September is Recovery Month. Did you know that the most prevalent and most deadly addiction is tobacco? Tobacco use kills almost 700 Alaskans every year; more than all drugs and alcohol combined. Though tobacco is an equal opportunity killer, tobacco use and its deadly effects are experienced almost exclusively in low-income and other vulnerable populations, including people with drug and alcohol use disorder. According to the CDC, 70-90 percent of people with substance use disorder are also addicted to nicotine. Historically people being treated for substance use disorder have been discouraged from quitting their tobacco use. It was believed that quitting smoking was too hard and would compromise a person’s chance at recovery. We know now that that is not true. People who quit smoking during treatment have a 25 percent increased likelihood of long-term sobriety. If any other medication or therapy provided such benefits, everyone would be encouraged to take it. Anyone who uses tobacco products should be encouraged to quit, and as a community, we should adopt policies, such as flavored tobacco restrictions, which prevent youth from becoming nicotine addicted. For help quitting tobacco, please call the Alaska Tobacco Quitline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW.
Tobacco Prevention for JAMHI Health and Wellness