On March 1st 2020 The Sobering Center became a tobacco free workplace. In collaboration with TTTF (Taking Texas Tobacco Free) staff took part in an evidence based education program and gained overall a 43% increase in their awareness of the risks associated with tobacco use. TTTF provided posters to display in the faculty along with patient education leaflets.
Research shows that 70-87% of people with a substance use disorder smoke cigarettes and that quitting smoking results in positive outcomes including lower risks of relapse and decrease in overall substance use. 44 % of all cigarettes consumed in the US are from those with a substance use or mental health diagnosis. Quitting smoking leads tosignificant reductions in anxiety, depression and stress (greater than or equal to the effect of anti-depressants).
While many of the staff were excited about creating a tobacco free facility, it was well recognized that many clients would often want to smoke during their sobering up event to manage both stress and cravings. Being told they could not do so often led to strong emotions and agitated behaviorswhich were difficult to manage at times. This year we have been very grateful to TTTF who have provided a grant for NRT products (patches and lozenges) allowing us to offer our clients an alternative to smoking that aligns with our focus on healthy living. Since there is a clear connection with using substances and smoking tobacco it also gives our counselors an opportunity to discuss smoking cessation and offer NRT as an incentive for clients to return for follow upservices. Our Program Manager, through the TTTF grant, was also funded to become a certified tobacco prevention specialist, allowing them to offer counseling skills to clients wishing to return for such services.
Since March we have asked 653 clients about their smoking habits and of that group 45% stated they were smokers and 22% were interested in quitting. Since we implemented offering NRT to clients sobering up 61% of the smoking group accepted some form of NRT. All of our clients who successfully discharge are given the Texas Quitline number and offered NRT. As we continue to implement this policy we are hopeful that more conversations around healthy lifestyles will help reduce the impact smoking has on our society and increase the chances of our clients becoming free from other addictive substances.
If you or someone you know wants to stop smoking, call the Texas Quitline at 1-877-YES QUIT (1-877-937-7848) or visit www.yesquit.org.