Quitting smoking may help sobriety

June 9, 2008 at 12:46 AM
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BOSTON, June 9 (UPI) -- Those dependent on alcohol are also apt to smoke, but quitting smoking may increase their chance of staying sober, a U.S. newsletter says.

People who are dependent on alcohol are also likely to smoke cigarettes, but it is a common worry that quitting smoking and drinking at the same time will undermine treatment for alcohol dependence, the Harvard Mental Health Letter says.

However, most studies have reported that efforts to quit smoking either have no impact on maintaining sobriety or actually increase success of alcohol treatment.

A still unresolved question is whether it's better to give up smoking and drinking together, or one addiction at a time.

Researchers have found that when smoking cessation support was delayed by six months, study participants were more likely to remain sober compared with those who received concurrent treatment for both addictions. But a follow-up analysis found this may have been true only for white people in the study.

Dr. Michael Miller, editor in chief of the Harvard Mental Health Letter, notes that no single approach is best for those struggling with both alcohol and nicotine addiction, but for now, the best option is to follow the federal guidelines for treating tobacco dependence, which recommend a combination of counseling and medication.

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