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Speakers at NCAD will demonstrate that smoking cessation is possible in treatment programs

May 19, 2010
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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Professionals are rejecting the old wisdom that tobacco is an addict’s only friend

Of all disciplines in healthcare, the substance abuse professional is seen by many as best situated to help a patient quit smoking, given the professional’s understanding of addictive processes. Yet the effort to engage the substance abuse professional on this subject never has been particularly easy.

“Once they decide they want to do this, they’re really good at it,” says Connie Revell, deputy director of the Smoking Cessation Leadership Center at the University of California, San Francisco. At this September’s National Conference on Addiction Disorders (NCAD) in Washington, D.C., Revell will be one of several presenters who will carry the message that many addiction treatment programs are addressing client smoking head-on without compromising other clinical goals.

“We’ve found that the real heavy-duty core of remaining smokers are people with behavioral health issues,” says Revell. This is why the Smoking Cessation Leadership Center, which started seven years ago as a national program office of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, has focused a great deal on initiatives with both the addiction and mental health treatment communities.

Revell explains that the project works mainly with national associations, often providing seed money for member surveys that drive interest in smoking cessation efforts. She says the center, which also receives funding from the American Legacy Foundation, has worked with the National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors (NASADAD), Faces and Voices of Recovery, and NAADAC, the Association for Addiction Professionals, among other field groups.

Revell’s session at the Sept. 8-11 NCAD ’10 conference is titled “Tobacco-Free for Recovery” and will take place on Sept. 10.

Revell says that contrary to a once-held belief among addiction professionals, studies have shown that individuals with behavioral health disorders want to quit smoking as much as or more than individuals without behavioral health problems do. In addition, research has indicated that simultaneous efforts to address all of a patient’s substance use issues are likely to prove more effective than relegating smoking cessation to the back burner during primary drug or alcohol treatment.

“Many well-meaning people said tobacco was these patients’ best friend, or the only thing they had,” Revell says. “But it’s not a friend—it’s an enemy. This is the number one killer.”

Other tobacco-related presentations at NCAD will look at the use of technology and collaborative partnerships to perform a needs assessment in tobacco control, as well how New York state initiatives have built professionals’ motivation and competency for integrating tobacco cessation into substance use treatment services.

NCAD is being produced by Vendome Group, publisher of Addiction Professional, as an event combining treatment, administration, design, technology and other information for addiction professionals. Participating associations are NAADAC (which will now hold its annual meeting under the NCAD title), the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers (NAATP) and the International Coalition for Addiction Studies Education (INCASE). For more information about the conference, visit www.ncad10.com.