You have probably heard the expression “where there’s smoke, there’s fire.” Generally, it is used to suggest that if something seems suspicious (that’s the smoke), there is probably something going on (that’s the fire).

But when it comes to substance use disorders and the recovery journey, anything you smoke has the potential to flare up into a fire of addiction or relapse. Here are some reminders of why smoking is not a good idea.

Don’t Light Up that Cigarette

Cigarette smoking does not have the cultural cache it once did, but plenty of people—including people in recovery—still smoke. 

There are a whole range of reasons that smoking cigarettes is a terrible idea. Cigarettes are associated with a range of problems—including lung cancer and a number of other chronic respiratory problems that can severely impact your quality of life. Smoking is also linked to various circulation problems as well as premature aging.

In addition to being aware of these potential bad health outcomes, it is important to remember that cigarettes—via the nicotine they contain—are addictive. If you are trying to live your life free from addictive substances, cigarettes are simply not for you.

And what about e-cigarettes? We have some thoughts about those, too. Long and short: they are problematic due to the high levels of nicotine they expose users to.

Don’t Light Up that Joint

As smoking cigarettes has become less socially acceptable over time, when it comes to marijuana the reverse seems to be true. But even though the drug has been made legal for recreational use in many places across the United States, that does not mean that smoking marijuana is a great idea.

Some people experience what is known as marijuana use disorder—a specific kind of substance use disorder. People who develop this disorder may find it very difficult to give up the drug. Symptoms of withdrawal include strong cravings, headaches, trouble sleeping and concentrating, and a notable increase in symptoms of depression, among others.

We should also note that marijuana can serve as a gateway drug—meaning it is one stop along the way toward using even more dangerous substances. 

Speaking of more dangerous substances…

Don’t Light Up…Well, Anything

While tobacco and marijuana are the substances most commonly associated with smoking, they are far from the only options. Those additional options, however, are all terrible. Here are some of the many substances you should not smoke:

  • Opium: Derived from the poppy plant (which is a key source for narcotics like morphine and heroin), opium is highly addictive and can lead to a range of bad outcomes.
  • Methamphetamine: Meth is a stimulant that has devastating impacts on a person’s body and brain and is highly addictive.
  • Crack cocaine: The Clinical Manual of Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment calls crack—which induces short but intense highs—the most addictive form of cocaine. 
  • PCP: Commonly known as “angel dust,” PCP is a hallucinogen that, among many other negative effects, can lead to an increased risk of suicide.
  • Black tar heroin: Heroin is bad enough, right? Add “black tar” (and the smoking practice known as “chasing the dragon”) and you have a terrible, terrible substance with—unsurprisingly—terrible, terrible health impacts.
  • Fentanyl: This drug is in the news a lot today because there is a nationwide epidemic of fentanyl use—and the results have been all too deadly.

Even this list is not a complete accounting of the dangerous substances that can be smoked. But it should provide a strong sense of just how dangerous the behavior can be. Put simply, when the question is to smoke or not to smoke, not to smoke is easily the best answer. Avoid the fire of a substance use disorder by choosing not to start smoking anything at all.

This is No Smokescreen: We Can Help You Get and Stay Sober

Are you struggling with drugs or alcohol? If so, you might be feeling alone and hopeless. Maybe your relationships, your finances, and your health—both mental and physical—are all falling apart. Maybe you have tried to give up substances on your own and found it impossible. Maybe you are considering treatment, but are unsure that it will really help.

At The Aviary Recovery Center—located near St. Louis, Missouri—we offer evidence-based treatment that is personalized to meet your specific needs. Our medically supervised detoxification program provides a safe environment that is free of temptations. Our rehabilitation program—grounded in individual and group therapy sessions—provides strategies and resources for maintaining your sobriety over time as well as treatment for co-occurring mental health disorders. And our continuum of care provides ongoing support so that you can begin your recovery journey with confidence.

We asked if you are struggling, and we have an additional question: Do you want to reclaim your sobriety and your life? If the answer is yes, we are ready to help.