Smoking Cessation in Alcoholics
Smoking and alcohol abuse are the biggest preventable causes of death worldwide. Smoking and alcohol used together or singly cause severe health risks in people that drastically reduce the life span of the individual. These addictions can not only cause traumatic injuries and accidents, but also various health problems that include cardiovascular disease, liver disease, cancers, danger to fetus, and alcohol poisoning. According to studies, people who smoke are likely to drink and those who drink are likely to smoke.
Use of alcohol and cigarettes together
People with a history of alcohol abuse have thrice the risk of getting addicted to smoking than in general public. It is reported that 85% of people who are recovering from alcohol are also addicted to smoking. People recovering from alcohol abuse get more addicted to nicotine and end up having more tobacco related diseases than alcohol related diseases.
Cancer risk due to alcohol and cigarettes
It is reported that in the United States around 75% of all oral and pharyngeal cancers are due to alcohol consumption and smoking. Drinking alcoholic beverages increase the risk of cancer. A 60% risk of cancer is seen, if the person consumes six alcoholic drinks or more per day. Smoking together with alcohol increases the risk of getting cancers like esophageal cancer, pharyngeal cancer, oral cancer, liver and laryngeal cancer. According to a case control study in the 1980’s, the risk of oral and pharyngeal cancer increased as the intake of alcohol increased. Smoking two to four packs of cigarette per day increased cancer risk by four times. People who consumed four or more alcoholic drinks per day have nine times the risk of getting oral and pharyngeal cancer. People who are heavy smokers as well as heavy drinkers have a 36 times more risk of developing cancer than people who abstain from smoking and drinking alcohol. The affect of alcohol is enhanced by the affect of tobacco raising the cancer risk considerably and abstaining from any one of them will reduce the risk of getting cancer.
Quitting smoking Vs quitting alcohol
It is found that people who are recovering from alcohol abuse tend to smoke more cigarettes. Smoking actually increases the craving for alcoholic drinks, hence one must quit smoking before or during the recovery from alcohol abuse.
According to studies, people who consume alcohol have a increased craving to smoke. According to investigations, chronic alcoholics tend to smoke 49 cigarettes per day and those who were not alcoholics smoked only 13 cigarettes per day. This clearly shows that alcoholics tend to smoke more. According to studies those who gave u drinking showed significant abstinence from smoking as well.
Programs that focus on quitting alcohol and smoking together
Treating patients who have drinking and smoking problem together could be challenging. Major depression is also seen in these patients which makes their condition complex. To overcome depression and feeling of sadness the patients tend to smoke and drink more. Drinking and smoking together for long periods of time decreases the brain chemical serotonin which further increases depression in the patient. Clinicians suggest program in which both addictions namely smoking and drinking along with depression are addressed. The program should consist of medications and psychotherapy. The medication Bupropion is the anti depressant that is also used for treatment of nicotine dependence and is approved by the Food and Drug Administration. In people who smoke and drink, the nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), helps in reducing the smoking and elevate the depressed mood. An anticonvulsant drug known as Topiramate 300mg/day helps in helps in avoiding smoking and alcohol together. Medication called Varenicline helps in reducing effects of nicotine.
Hypnosis has been said to be effective for treating addictions like smoking and alcohol but it must be done only by a certified hypnotist. Acupuncture is said to help in managing withdrawal symptoms after abstinence from smoking. In behavior therapy programs, the people addicted to smoking and alcohol are taught skills to overcome their addictions. It is also advised to joint support groups where one can met other people fighting the same addictions and learn ways and means to overcome the addictions successfully.
Tips for recovering alcoholics to quit smoking
The person who wants to quit smoking should gradually decrease the number of cigarettes he or she smokes per day. Maintaining a diary regarding the progress is recommended. To overcome the craving for cigarettes one can ask the doctor to prescribe some form of nicotine replacement therapy like nicotine gum, nicotine patch, nicotine lozenges and nicotine inhaler. Medications like Bupropion and Varenicline help in treatment of nicotine addiction. Deep breathing exercises, relaxation techniques can help the person overcome nicotine addiction and stress. When the craving for a cigarette increases, one can use a substitute like mint, celery sticks, gum, sun flower seeds, hard candy or carrot. Drinking lots of water when the craving arises helps in the craving disappearing faster.
Fighting alcohol and smoking addiction at the same time can be challenging and one may fail the first few times but it is not impossible. To fight the addictions, one needs the support from one’s family and friends. Joining support groups helps a lot.