Drug free means tobacco free?

PeaPod steps into a little controversy:

A professor of psychiatry, Tom McLellan is well respected and has had a distinguished career including as an advisor to the White House. When it comes to addiction, he tends to know what he’s talking about.

At a conference in New Zealand last week, he said;

“The consensus definition now used for recovery in the US, Britain and France is ‘a voluntary lifestyle characterised by sobriety, good personal health and citizenship’.

“By this definition, sobriety alone is not enough to qualify. The citizenship aspect also means acting in a responsible manner towards those around you. It is widely agreed those who simply stop drinking or using but do not change their attitudes and behaviours are not likely to remain abstinent for long.”

And there’s where the smoking thing comes in. Smoking represents unchanged addictive behaviour. Can someone really be in recovery if they continue to smoke?

“Logically we’d have to say no. Why would a definition of recovery emphasising abstinence from drugs of abuse and good personal health allow individuals to use nicotine, the most abused drug in the world?”

It reminds me of this Bill White paper from a few years ago:

Moving forward to address nicotine addiction within the larger rubric of addiction treatment is no longer a question of inadequate research; it is a question of honesty, courage and leadership.

Every day, addictions professionals who have been addicted to nicotine are shedding that addiction and embracing a personal manifesto containing one or more of the following propositions.

…and selected statements from his proposed manifesto:

I choose to:

  • Help hasten the end of the addiction field’s enabling of tobacco addiction among our clients and our workers.
  • Model responsible decision-making regarding all psychoactive drugs and encourage my clients and peers to do the same.

I refuse to:

  • Model a behavior (smoking) that could take years from my own life and the lives of those who could be influenced by my example.
  • Live the hypocrisy of being addicted while working as an addictions professional.

In an interview with Bill White, John Schwarzlose of the Betty Ford Center said:

…in our most recent conference on defining recovery, the group was unanimous in declaring that full recovery also means being nicotine free.

What do you think?

Just this morning, I heard a guy who has be in recovery for years talk about quitting smoking. He said that he didn’t know how he’d deal with stress without smoking. What does that say?

One thought on “Drug free means tobacco free?

Comments are closed.