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Do I Have to Quit Smoking to Enter Treatment?

You will almost never be required to quit smoking to enter treatment, and in fact, few treatment centers even offer to help you quit smoking. There are several reasons for this.

First, the vast majority of people addicted to alcohol or other substances also smoke. Most estimates put the number at around 90 percent. If you make everyone who enters treatment quit, or just forbid smoking while in treatment, a lot of people will leave early or just not get treatment at all. Since you can smoke and still function normally, or at least without a lot of the destructive behaviors associated with other addictions, the logic is that you should deal with the most destructive addictions first and worry about smoking later.

Second, some people believe quitting smoking at the same time as other addictions is just too much to ask. Nicotine is one of the most addictive drugs and it’s reinforced by deeply ingrained habits. If you’re trying to quit other addictive drugs, some of which may have terrible withdrawal, quitting cigarettes too makes it even harder.

Despite these objections, you might want to consider quitting smoking at the same times as other drugs. Look for a treatment center that offers special help to quit smoking. If that help isn’t available, you can always try to quit on your own. Keep in mind, though, most of the people around you will be smoking so it might be hard.

The reasons you want to quit are simple. The biggest reason is that smoking will kill you. Smoking kills more people than any other drug. To put it in perspective, around 50,000 people die each year from opioid-related overdoses–more than car crashes and violent crime combined, but nearly 10 times as many people die from smoking each year.

Second, smoking is closely associated with drinking and drug use. It’s linked to those behaviors in smell, taste, and habit. Therefore, smoking in recovery may cause cravings. In fact, studies show people who continue smoking after treatment are more likely to relapse than people who quit smoking or never smoked.

Third, withdrawal is bad anyway, so you might as well throw quitting cigarettes into the bargain. Whatever drug you’re quitting, you’re likely to be sick and irritable for at least a couple of weeks. It’s pretty much the same as smoking withdrawal–cravings, headaches, irritability, nausea–so why not do it all at once, when you can actually get treatment for withdrawal symptoms? There’s no point in going through it all over again.

For any other multiple addiction, every addiction is treated. You wouldn’t have someone come in addicted to alcohol and cocaine and say, “Nah, I’m only doing the cocaine this time; I’ll take care of the alcohol later.” We know that addictions feed each other, but smoking gets a pass. However, you can still decide to quit smoking too.

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, Gardens Wellness Center can help you detox safely and decide on a treatment strategy. Call us today at 844-325-9168 or email us at to learn more.