Patients' views on smoking cessation and tobacco harm reduction during drug treatment

Kimber Paschall Richter, Robert M. McCool, Kolawole S. Okuyemi, Matthew S. Mayo, Jasjit S. Ahluwalia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Efforts to help smokers in drug treatment quit smoking have met with little success. To explore barriers to quitting and interest in tobacco harm reduction we conducted focus groups and interviews among 78 patients from rive Methadone Maintenance Treatment (MMT) sites. Measures included a written survey and open-ended questions on (a) motivation for quitting, (b) what quit methods worked and what didn't work, and (c) interest in smoking reduction and nicotine maintenance as an alternative to complete cessation. Discussions were audiotaped, transcribed, and coded using computer-based qualitative software; our interobserver reliability was 83%. Successful quitters used in general a combination of quit methods such as prayer, nicotine gum, keeping busy, quitting 'one day at a time,' nicotine patches, deep breathing, and avoidance of triggers. Nicotine craving, rather than withdrawal, was cited as the biggest challenge to staying quit. Some current smokers feared quitting smoking would divert them from their goal of quitting illicit drug use or tapering off MMT. Current smokers were interested in smoking reduction as an alternative to quitting; however, those who had tried but failed to reduce smoking preferred complete cessation. Nicotine maintenance was favored by only a few participants with major health problems who didn't hold out hope for quitting. Findings suggest combination pharmacotherapy could help patients control withdrawal and acute episodes of craving. Patients have a number of skills from coping with illicit drug dependence that are useful in combating nicotine dependence. Behavioral methods and short-term pharmacotherapy to help patients reduce tobacco exposure should be explored.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S175-S182
JournalNicotine and Tobacco Research
Issue numberSUPPL. 2
StatePublished - 2002


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