Alcohol and Cigarettes

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Drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes is a common combination for many people, and quitting both simultaneously can be challenging. However, addiction recovery should be about promoting independence from all substances. Discontinuing the use of alcohol and tobacco together means promoting a more profound sense of personal freedom and a dedication to living free from chemical and emotional dependence.

Guardian Recovery offers customized, comprehensive programs designed to address all the factors contributing to the development of addiction. Contact us today if you are struggling with misusing alcohol, tobacco, and other addictive substances. We are here to help you get on the road to recovery and provide you with the education and tools you need to maintain long-lasting abstinence and wellness.

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What Happens When You Detox From Alcohol and Cigarettes?

Alcohol and nicotine are both harmful to overall health and highly addictive. If you detox from these substances concurrently, you will experience withdrawal effects related to each. While nicotine withdrawal is very uncomfortable, you will not experience severe or life-threatening physical effects. But alcohol detox is a different matter entirely. In extreme cases, abruptly discontinuing use can result in severe symptoms, which can be fatal if unaddressed.

Tobacco Withdrawal Symptoms Can Include:

  • Intense cravings.
  • Headaches.
  • Sweating. 
  • Fatigue.
  • Nausea.
  • Sore throat.
  • Impaired concentration.
  • Insomnia and sleeping difficulties.
  • Anxiety and irritability.
  • Depression.
  • Increased appetite and weight gain.

Nicotine withdrawal symptoms typically last from a few days to a few weeks. Although, some people can experience them for several months.

Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms Include:

  • Anxiety and restlessness.
  • Depression and fatigue.
  • Mood swings.
  • Headaches and light sensitivity.
  • Stomach pain.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Fever, profuse sweating, and night sweats.
  • Insomnia and sleep disturbances.
  • Elevated blood pressure and body temperature.
  • Increased heart rate.

Alcohol withdrawal can also result in delirium tremens, a condition characterized by tremors, hallucinations, delusions, disorientation, extreme agitation, seizures, and death.

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How to Detox From Alcohol and Cigarettes

Dependence on alcohol or nicotine can be challenging to overcome on your own, especially if you are trying to do this at home. However, professional treatment for alcoholism, such as detox and therapy, can also help with smoking and mitigate the severity of combined withdrawal.

Substance users who also smoke can usually be treated with behavioral and pharmacological treatments similar to others who smoke. Still, more intensive and prolonged treatment may be necessitated.

It appears that quitting smoking while undergoing other drug treatment does not adversely affect drug treatment outcomes and may, in fact, improve them. Therefore, many addiction experts recommend that smoking be integrated into treating those who misuse alcohol and other drugs.

Alcohol Detox

Because alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be intense and even deadly, a medically-assisted detox is the safest and most comfortable for discontinuing alcohol use. During detox, health professionals supervise individuals 24/7 while undergoing the withdrawal process. They will closely monitor vital signs and administer medication to reduce many of the most severe symptoms.

Cigarette Detox

Detoxing from nicotine is not dangerous, but without help the likelihood of relapse is relatively high. Estimates of relapse rates for smokers trying to quit range from 60-90% within the first 12 months. Yet many people successfully use tapering methods, such as nicotine, gum, patches, and nasal sprays. These products can help you wean yourself off nicotine and lessen the severity of associated withdrawal symptoms.

Withdrawal symptoms associated with the combined cessation of alcohol and cigarettes include those associated with either, and some similar effects can be amplified (e.g., anxiety and insomnia). Medication to help with these issues can be prescribed and be helpful to deal with the sudden absence of either substance.

Alcohol and Cigarettes & Dual Withdrawal

If an individual decides to quit alcohol, whether on their own or in a treatment center, it may be tempting to rely on tobacco as a coping mechanism. But doing so may strengthen nicotine dependence while attempting to manage stress and anxiety. Fortunately, cigarettes aren’t the only method you can use to help manage the stress of alcohol cessation.

To detox from both alcohol and nicotine, you should seek professional treatment and consult your recovery team about your desire to quit them in conjunction. An alcohol addiction program can include help with quitting smoking and consist of many of the same aspects of drug and alcohol recovery, such as therapy, counseling, and medication.

If you decide to quit smoking while detoxing from alcohol, you are liable to experience a range of benefits including the following:

  • Ridding your body of all toxic substances can improve your physical and mental wellness. 
  • The ability to pursue complete, holistic recovery. 
  • Cultivating an all-encompassing lifestyle change when you free yourself from all substances that cause chemical and emotional dependence.
  • Quitting smoking as soon as possible reduces your risk of developing lung cancer, COPD, and other respiratory disorders.

Research indicates that drug- or alcohol-dependent people have very high smoking rates and are much more likely to die from a smoking-related health condition than one that is alcohol-related. This may be because smoking cessation in this group is considered a lower priority and frequently delayed or ignored. 

The Link Between Alcoholism & Smoking Cigarettes

According to The National Institutes of Health, smoking rates among alcoholics may be as high as 90%, and approximately 70% smoke at least one pack of cigarettes daily. While the number of individuals who engage in daily tobacco use has been steadily declining, the number of people who identify as social smokers has gradually increased.

Research has found multiple associations between alcohol and cigarettes. Both act on the brain’s dopamine system and could increase the urge to use either or both substances. At least one study has shown that nicotine can boost the enjoyable effects of alcohol consumption and “lead to a heightened sense of reward” and increase use.

Another recent study suggested the combined use of cigarettes and excessive drinking is linked to a “faster cognitive decline” and other adverse health outcomes, such as certain forms of cancer.

Eliminating alcohol and cigarettes from your life can be daunting because you are trying to discontinue using two highly addictive substances simultaneously. But it is by no means impossible.

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Get Help for Alcohol & Cigarette Addiction Today

If you are struggling with alcohol misuse and nicotine dependence, we are here to help. Try not to allow a fear of withdrawal to prevent your recovery.  Slight physical discomfort early on can save you from years or decades of alcohol and cigarette dependence and lifelong, painful, and possibly fatal health conditions.

Detoxing from alcohol without medical supervision is never advised due to possible life-threatening effects. At Guardian Recovery, our dedicated team of healthcare professionals medically monitor individuals undergoing detox to ensure severe symptoms are effectively treated.

Withdrawal is one of many consequences of alcohol and tobacco misuse, but there is hope for a better life. Contact us today for a free, no obligation insurance benefit check. You can also learn more about our evidence-based addiction treatment programs and how to can begin your new life free from addiction.

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Disclaimer: Does not guarantee specific treatment outcomes, as individual results may vary. Our services are not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis; please consult a qualified healthcare provider for such matters.

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Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave

L.M.H.C.

Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.

Written by:

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Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting. Since then she has been writing on addiction recovery and psychology full-time, and has found a home as part of the Guardian Recovery team.

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