New research from the National Institute of Drug Abuse, a part of the National Institutes of Health, suggests that people who are addicted to cocaine or methamphetamine are able to quit cigarette smoking while being treated for their substance addictions, and that quitting will not hinder their treatment.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cigarette smoking causes 1 in 5 deaths in the US every year. But the researchers say the highest death rate from smoking tobacco occurs in patients receiving treatment for substance abuse.

Figures from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reveal that in 2008, 63% of people who had a substance abuse disorder in the past year reported current tobacco use, while tobacco use in the general population stood at 28%.

But the researchers note that the majority of programs treating substance abuse do not look at helping patients quit smoking as part of their treatment.

Cigarette stub pinned to a calendar with 'Quit' written in red for that dateShare on Pinterest
Fit to quit: researchers say their study shows that patients undergoing substance abuse treatment are able to quit smoking with the additional help of smoking cessation therapy.

With this in mind, the researchers conducted a study in which patients being treated for cocaine and methamphetamine addiction were randomly assigned to treatment aimed at helping them stop smoking (smoking cessation therapy).

Their treatment involved weekly counseling sessions for a period of 10 weeks, during which time the patients received bupropion extended-release medication – a form of antidepressant.

From weeks 4 to 10, participants received nicotine inhalers alongside contingency management – a strategy that awarded prizes to subjects with the aim of encouraging them to stop smoking.

All participants underwent drug and carbon monoxide testing to measure the levels of these substances in their bodies during the 10-week study, and at a 3- and 6-month follow-up. They were also required to self-report their outcomes.

Results of the study, published in The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, revealed that patients who underwent smoking cessation therapy showed high smoking quit rates during substance abuse therapy and during the 3- and 6-month follow-up.

Furthermore, the researchers report that smoking cessation therapy did not interfere with patients’ participation in substance abuse treatment.

Commenting on the findings, Dr. Nora D. Volkow, director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), says:

Substance abuse treatment programs have historically been hesitant to incorporate concurrent smoking cessation therapies with standard drug addiction treatment because of the concern that patients would drop out of treatment entirely.

However, treating their tobacco addiction may not only reduce the negative health consequences associated with smoking, but could also potentially improve substance use disorder treatment outcomes.”

First author of the study Dr. Theresa Winhusen, of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, notes that these findings, alongside previous studies, “should reassure clinicians that providing smoking cessation treatment in conjunction with treatment for other substance use disorders will be beneficial to their patients.”

Medical News Today recently reported on a study revealing that around 600 under-16s take up smoking each day in the UK.