Alcoholics have poorer results in stop-smoking programs

December 01, 1999

Researchers looked at a previous smoking-treatment study involving 382 people. When they compared the results of active and recovering alcoholic participants versus other participants, they found that these two groups had significantly poorer stop-smoking rates -- 42 percent for alcoholics and 34 percent for recovering alcoholics, compared to 58 percent for nonalcoholics at the end of the eight-week study. After six months, a similar percentage of alcoholics and nonalcoholics remained smoke free, about 27 percent, but only 15 percent of recovering alcoholics were smoke free.

The study also found that the active and recovering alcoholics had more severe nicotine dependence than nonalcoholics. J. Taylor Hays, M.D., associate director of the Mayo Clinic Nicotine Dependence Center, says the study points out the need for more intensive treatment programs for these more strongly addicted smokers.

Estimates are that from 60 to 95 percent of active or recovering alcoholics are smokers. "The fact that recovering alcoholics more often die from diseases related to their nicotine addiction than to their alcoholism is a tragedy that cannot be overstated," says Dr. Hays.

Mayo Clinic

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