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J Psychoactive Drugs. 2006 Sep;38(3):311-5.

Good and bad times for treating cigarette smoking in drug treatment.

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  • 1Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, University of Kansas School of Medicine, Kansas City, MO, USA.


Most substance abuse treatment facilities do not routinely treat cigarette smoking even though most of their clients smoke and many will die from tobacco-related illness. This study is a secondary analysis of a national survey of the prevalence and type of tobacco treatment services available in methadone maintenance treatment. It presents qualitative and quantitative information on provider attitudes regarding tobacco treatment in drug treatment. One clinic leader (either a medical director, head nurse, or clinic director) from all 697 U.S. facilities was invited to participate in the study. Most (38%) clinic leaders thought the best time to treat patients for nicotine dependence was whenever the patient wanted treatment. One in four clinic leaders reported they or one of their staff had advised patients to delay quitting smoking cigarettes. Fewer (14%) believed that patients in some way benefited from cigarette smoking; these benefits included managing mood disturbances (calming, reducing anxiety, depression, stress, anger) and substituting for illicit drug abuse. This suggests that some providers might rely on cigarettes in lieu of psychotherapy or prescription medications to address patients' mood disorders such as depression, anger, and anxiety. One tactic for disseminating tobacco treatment in drug treatment might involve identifying the purported benefits of tobacco and training providers in alternative methods for delivering these benefits.

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