Tag Archives: recovery

Does Smoking Inhibit Recovery?

One of the most common sites to see in a treatment facility is cigarette smoking. Clients and counselors often engage in smoking as a way to temporarily reduce stress, socialize and still feed at least one of their addictions. However, new research is showing that smoking can also be a serious hindrance to maintaining sobriety.

Researchers at Columbia University’s School of Public Health investigated data gathered from 35,000 adults, specifically looking at rate of relapse after treatment. They found that people who smoke before treatment and continue doing so afterward are nearly twice as likely to relapse as non-smokers.

This information is especially interesting because of the current take on smoking in most treatment centers. Since coming off of drugs can be so stressful and patients are often having to work through painful past experiences, smoking is accepted because it is a “lesser” addiction. However, according to this research it can be detrimental.

“If research continues to show a relationship between smoking and relapse to substance use among those in recovery, making tobacco treatment a standard part of treatment for illicit substance use disorders may be a critical service to provide to adults toward improving substance treatment outcomes over the long term,” commented Renee Goodwin, author of the study.

Perhaps some of the indicators of having a compulsive behavior tied to a chemical leaves a pathway open in the brain that makes people more susceptible to relapse. Whereas research into neuroplasticity has shown that the brain can be “re-trained” to create new pathways and behaviors, maintaining an active addiction to nicotine may prevent that re-writing process from occurring.

How Mindfulness Enhances Recovery

practicing mindfulness in recoveryThere is a growing body of research showing the benefits of incorporating mindfulness practices into many parts of our daily lives. Recovery is no exception, as it has been shown to be particularly helpful in preventing relapse and improving overall mental stability.

Sometimes there are some misconceptions of what mindfulness really is, as people may think it is only a part of an Eastern religion. While it definitely has roots dating back 2,500 years or so in that foundation, it is not limited to any particular set of beliefs at all.

The definition of mindfulness is: “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.”

Practicing being aware of things in the moment can be extremely helpful in addiction recovery in many ways, whether those situations are initially positive or if they are threatening in some way. For example, if a person is experiencing a drug or alcohol craving, through a deeper awareness they are able to see themselves through it as it passes rather than falling prey to the transient reactive impulses. They are able to withstand the craving with more ease each time as they become less affected by the sensations that arise during such episodes. Treatment programs that incorporate some form of mindfulness practice will become more sought after.

It is also helpful in building longer-lasting stability by being more in tune with one’s thoughts and feelings and paying more attention to daily tasks, especially those that bring warmth or pleasure. These may include time with family, playing a sport, creating something artistically or simply enjoying yourself on a vacation. These positive experiences can have a greater impact the more aware of them we are, and help us to focus more on the good things in life rather than the bad things.

One mistake many people think is that if they do it a few times then that is sufficient, but mindfulness is a practice that should always continue, and the longer that it is, the more effective it will be with regards to recovery as well as general happiness. This continued practice helps bring us more out of the realm of past upsets or future anxieties and helps us to maintain more balance in the continuously present moments of each day.