Sunday, April 4, 2010

GCASA's patients have a huge prevalence of tobacco addiction

About 75% of the patients which GCASA admitted to its outpatient programs in 2009 have used tobacco and about 90% of residential services clients have used tobacco.

Right now the New York prevalence rate for tobacco use is about 18%. Why would substance abuse patients use tobacco at a rate 4 times the general population?

There is some evidence that the same brain chemistry which is at work when someone becomes addicted operates the same way with tobacco.

What are the implications for service delivery?

1. GCASA has a policy that tobacco and tobacco paraphanalia are contraband on GCASA grounds and in GCASA vehicles.

2. The most complaints that we receive from the public are concerning the people who smoke on the public sidewalks in front of GCASA's properties.

3. GCASA aggressively provides treatment for people wishing to quit using tobacco.

4. This coming fall GCASA will not admit any patient to its residential services program that tests positive for tobacco use.

5. Tobacco is the most addictive and deadly drug in America. 410,000 Americans die from tobacco every year, while 100,000 die from alcohol, and only 30,000 from street drugs. Policies and community norms and attitudes are slowly changing to reflect the reality, but as a society we still have a long way to go.

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