Effect of treatment for nicotine dependence on alcohol and drug treatment outcomes

Anne M. Josephc, Kristin L. Nichol, Hazel Anderson

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81 Scopus citations


This study was designed to examine the effect of a policy banning smoking and a smoking-cessation intervention on alcohol and drug treatment outcomes. We compared long-term alcohol and drug treatment outcomes in two cohorts hospitalized for substance use treatment, subjected to different smoking policies and cessation interventions in two periods. The study included 314 male patients, aged 18-65. The intervention cohort was subjected to a total hospital smoking ban and concurrent drug and nicotine dependency treatment, with a requirement for nicotine abstinence during hospitalization. The control cohort was hospitalized under a policy permitting smoking in designated areas, with no specific smoking-cessation intervention. Current alcohol, drug, and tobacco use were ascertained by follow-up interview with patients 8-21 months after completion of treatment. There was a 60% response rate in the intervention group (n = 92) and a 66% response rate in the control group (n = 105). Among respondents, there were no significant differences between intervention and control groups in rates of "improvement" for alcohol, cocaine, or marijuana use, or for these drugs combined, although there was a nonsignificant trend toward less "improvement" in the intervention group. When nonrespondents were analyzed as treatment failures, the rate of "improvement" was significantly worse for cocaine users in the intervention group, but not for other drug users or for all patients combined. Ten percent of patients reported quitting smoking in the intervention group compared to 4% in the control group (difference not significant). Although patients resisted the mandatory nature of the smoking intervention, many continuing smokers requested information and referral for smoking cessation at the time of follow-up. These data suggest that concurrent intervention for nicotine dependence did not significantly harm treatment outcomes of patients using alcohol or marijuana as their drug of first choice. Due to a trend in this direction, this possibility should be investigated in randomized, controlled trials. The intervention was associated with a small increase in self-reported smoking cessation. There is considerable interest in this patient population in smoking cessation after completion of treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)635-644
Number of pages10
JournalAddictive Behaviors
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1993

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Supported by a grant from the Minnesota Medical Foundation. The authors would like to thank Dr. Willenbring, Dr. Heilman, Vincent Pletcher, Linda Lysaght, and the DDTP staff for their help with this project. Requests for reprints should be sent to Anne M. Joseph, M.D., M.P.H., Section of General Internal Medicine (11 l-O), Veterans Affairs Medical Center, One Veterans Drive, Minneapolis, MN 55417.


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