People in addiction-treatment programs are about two to three times more likely to smoke than other people, a new study finds.
Researchers reviewed 54 studies that included more than 37,000 people in 20 countries and found that 84 percent of those in treatment for drug and alcohol problems were smokers. Only 31 percent of people in the general population smoke.
“When people come into treatment for drugs and alcohol, we are not treating another addiction that has a significant chance of eventually killing them, which is tobacco use,” study leader Joseph Guydish, a professor of medicine and health policy at the University of California, San Francisco, said in a university news release.
“At a public health level, this means that our addiction-treatment efforts should address smoking and tobacco use better than they do now,” he added.
This study did not include data from the United States. But a previous study by Guydish and his colleagues found that the smoking rate among people in U.S. addiction-treatment centers was about 76 percent, compared with less than 18 percent in the general population.
“Every person who enters substance abuse treatment ought to have their tobacco use evaluated and treated,” Guydish said. “If they don’t want to be treated and quit right away, they should have some education to help them think more about quitting.”
He noted that a number of studies “strongly suggest” that addressing patients’ smoking can improve the outcome of their substance abuse treatment. “That’s what we should be doing,” Guydish said.
The findings were published Sept. 22 in the journal Addiction.
The American Cancer Society offers a guide to quitting smoking.