Trends and Statistics - Treatment Professional - Sobriety

Should I Discourage Nicotine Use In My Clients?

People recovering from substance use disorders should not use nicotine. We’ll help your client find healthy coping mechanisms.

Should I Discourage Nicotine Use In My Clients?

Table of contents

Written by

Brian MooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

Jeremy ArztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

June 16, 2022

The Forge Recovery Center

Nicotine is a substance used in abundance throughout the United States. In 2020, approximately 23.6 million people had nicotine dependence, with cigarettes and vaping the most commonly used forms of nicotine. 

While most Americans are aware of the dangers of smoking, the long-term effects of vaping are relatively unknown. Regardless, nicotine is a highly addictive drug and should be avoided to ensure your client stays and maintains their progress.

Poor Health Outcomes

Nicotine has many adverse health effects, regardless of how it is ingested. Studies have shown that nicotine stresses the body, causes cancer, and can have long-term effects on the lungs, kidneys, heart, and reproductive system. How nicotine is ingested will only further exacerbate any potential side effects.

The complications that can result from ingestion are as follows:

  • Smoking: Smoking cigarettes is known to cause heart disease, stroke, cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lung disease, and diabetes. 

  • Vaping: Vaping is a newer form of ingestion and safer than smoking. However, vaping has been linked to chronic lung disease, asthma, and an increased risk of a heart attack. 

  • Chewing tobacco: Chewing tobacco can cause throat and mouth cancer, tooth loss, and gum disease. 

Your client chose a path of sobriety so they can become healthier. Continuing to use nicotine is not a healthy choice due to the adverse side effects it can have on your client's physical health. Discouraging nicotine usage in your client will give them a better chance of leading a healthier life. 

Replacing One Addiction for Another

Although nicotine usage usually does not have the same adverse effects on someone's life as heroin, methamphetamine, alcohol, or cocaine, it is still highly addictive. If your client is electing to use nicotine as a coping mechanism during recovery, they are more than likely replacing one substance for another. 

Using nicotine will only keep your client's brain wired to addiction. They will still spend time, energy, and money on nicotine to keep up with their habit, developing rituals to support their addiction. The point of recovery is to ensure your client is living a life free of addiction so they can move forward. Discouraging nicotine usage will allow them to live a life of independence from any substance. 

Risk of Relapse

There is a significant amount of people with substance abuse disorders who also use cigarettes. If your client is using nicotine as a coping mechanism through recovery, their brain is still thriving off of the rewards that the drug gives them when they use, thus priming their brain for relapse. They are not learning to live without drugs in their life, and more importantly, smoking and vaping are social acts that go hand in hand with other substances. 

If your client uses nicotine, they are likely to spend time with people who do the same. This means they are at higher risk for other drugs and alcohol to be present in these settings. This will open your client to peer pressure, making it harder to ignore their cravings and increasing the temptation to use.

To ensure the best chance of recovery for your client, they must discontinue using nicotine to ensure they are not putting themselves in a compromising position during recovery. 

Why Your Client Shouldn't Use Nicotine 

If your client is currently recovering from alcoholism or another substance use disorder (SUD), it is vital to discourage nicotine use. Many people recovering from addiction will use nicotine as they believe it reduces stress and helps with their anxiety. If your client relies on nicotine as a coping mechanism through their recovery, they could continue to compromise their health.

Essentially, they will be replacing their substance of choice with another drug, which will not allow them to recover and put them in danger of relapse. 

Substitutes for Nicotine

There are times when recovery will be stressful for your client as they face burnout and cravings. Naturally, they will want to try different coping mechanisms on their journey to recovery. Many other activities can replace nicotine usage, and there are resources that can help them stop using nicotine to improve their chances of recovery. 

If your client is struggling with nicotine usage, it will be necessary to recommend them to a healthcare provider that can provide treatment options to help them give up the drug. Additionally, you can recommend different coping mechanisms that will help them deal with stress and anxiety, such as:

  • Exercise

  • Mediation 

  • Listening to music

  • Writing

  • Spending time with people who do not smoke

  • Chewing gum

  • Practicing self-care

The Forge Recovery Center Will Help Your Client Live a Happy, Healthy Life

While it may seem relatively harmless on the surface, nicotine is a coping mechanism that will not help your client but hurt them. At The Forge Recovery Center, we understand that nicotine usage will not allow them to break their cycle of addiction and will more than likely result in health complications if used long-term.

We have the expertise to help those recovering from addiction develop positive coping mechanisms that will help prevent your client from relapsing. If you have questions about what treatment options are available, contact The Forge Recovery Center today.

Newsletter banner

Sign up for our newsletter

Stay updated with the latest news, resources, and updates from The Forge Recovery Center.