One of the common misconceptions about recovery is that achieving sobriety is the cure for substance use disorder. In reality, this is a vital step of a life-long journey that requires patience, commitment, and care.
When it comes to remaining in recovery, developing coping mechanisms and tools for managing stress is undeniably crucial. But it’s important to remember that not all stress-relieving activities are healthy—especially when the goal is to achieve and maintain long-term health.
World No Tobacco Day is recognized every year on May 31 to bring attention to the fact that cigarettes and other nicotine products are detrimental to our health.
What is the Link Between Smoking and Recovery?
Smoking cigarettes during recovery is incredibly common. In fact, in a survey conducted of Alcoholics Anonymous participants in 2007, 56.9% smoked.
78.7% of those smokers went through over a half a pack a day. These numbers are dramatically higher than the national average.
For those overcoming drug and alcohol addiction, smoking cigarettes may feel like nothing more than a bad habit in comparison to their substance use disorder. However, smoking is not only detrimental to overall health, it could put recovery in jeopardy.
The Dangers of Smoking During Recovery
It was once believed that smoking helped those in recovery manage their stress and cravings, but smoking can actually increase the risk of relapse.
Those who smoke before achieving sobriety often smoke while using drugs and alcohol, creating a familiar link between drinking and substance use.
While in recovery, smoking may increase cravings for drugs and alcohol, given that the two behaviors were once closely intertwined.
Many people continue to smoke in recovery as they don’t consider it as dangerous as their other addiction. In reality, smoking can be just as detrimental to a person’s health as drug and alcohol misuse.
Smoking can cause lung disease and lung cancer, increase the risk for stroke, negatively affect bone health, seriously damage the heart, and cause other cancers throughout the entire body.
Each year, 480,000 people die in the United States as a result of cigarette smoking. That is more deaths per year than all other substance use related deaths combined.
Another false belief about smoking in recovery is that it’s best to quit one addiction at a time. Because of this, many people seeking help for a substance use disorder continue smoking throughout their treatment.
However, quitting smoking in treatment for drug or alcohol addiction will actually benefit recovery and prevent relapse down the road.
Research has shown that quitting smoking within the first year of addiction treatment will increase the chances of remaining abstinent from drugs and alcohol.
So while it may be more challenging to quit smoking while in treatment for a substance use disorder, it’s best to quit as soon as possible.
Healthy Coping Mechanisms During Recovery
Quitting smoking isn’t easy. Not only are cigarettes and nicotine highly addictive, they’re a handy coping mechanism for stress. Because of this, it’s essential to discover new, healthy ways to cope with stress.
The best stress management techniques vary based on the individual. What might work for one person may not work for everyone, so it’s important to explore different options in order to discover the best ways to keep daily stress at bay.
13 Healthy Ways to Manage Stress
There are many healthy ways to deal with stress, but here are some ideas that will help most people to get started:
- Establish a routine
- Avoid caffeine
- Exercise daily
- Participate in sound healing
- Create a soothing environment at home
- Use aromatherapy techniques
- Journal regularly
- Meditate at least once or twice a day
- Start a garden and tend to it every day
- Volunteer at work, school, or in the neighborhood
- Pick up a new hobby
- Do yoga
- Find a creative outlet
World No Tobacco Day
For anyone looking to give up a smoking addiction and start on a new path to a healthier life, there’s no time like the present.
May 31 is World No Tobacco Day. This yearly initiative, led by the World Health Organization, seeks to spread awareness about the negative impact of tobacco on people’s health and well being.
Nicotine is a very powerful addictive substance found in cigarettes, eCigarette vape pens, and smokeless tobacco products.
For teens who haven’t started using tobaco yet, it’s best to not experiment with it no matter how cool it might appear to be.
Those who have already formed a dependence or addiction to nicotine can attest to how difficult it can be to quit smoking or using tobacco.
World No Tobacco Day is chance to consider quitting and take the necessary steps to at least decrease daily use and create a goal to quit altogether in the very near future.
Get involved this year by abstaining from using tobacco products for 24 hours, and encouraging your friends and family to do the same. Spread the word by using the hashtag #WorldNoTobaccoDay on social media and make a meaningful impact by writing your local government officials, participating in activities, meetings, and attending educational programming.
If you’re ready to give up smoking, follow these tips from the American Cancer Society on how to quit and make World No Tobacco Day the first day of your journey toward a cigarette-free life!