Smoking and Recovery


Smoking and recovery is two addictions that do not mix.  Bridgeway Behavioral Health’s CEO, Mike Morrison, wrote about his struggles of going through recovery while smoking.  This was inspired after reading a NPR article on smoking: Smoking’s Death Toll May Be Higher Than Anyone Knew

There are at least 21 diseases that the Surgeon General lists as being caused by smoking. Now, a recent study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, points to 17 additional diseases linked to tobacco use. Smoking related deaths caused by smoking number over 437,000 annually. This number means that 1 in 5 deaths are caused by tobacco.

Smoking and recovery

Let’s talk a moment about smoking and recovery. It is no secret that many alcoholics and addicts smoke. While many are now smoke free, 12 Step meetings have historically been smoke filled. Several years ago I was at my home group and a fellow member who is a physician said, “I am so sick of seeing my fellow AA members achieve sobriety, only to die of smoking related causes.” That statement has been rolling around in my head for years. As a former smoker myself, I fully realize how difficult it is to quit.

Smoking and recovery

When I got into recovery, I quit alcohol and other drugs, and, by the grace of God and support of many people, have never gone back. But I continued to smoke for years into my recovery. I always told myself and others, “One thing at a time. It is too hard to quit everything at once”. In my mind, I put smoking into another category of addiction because it did not cause the kind of crises that the other substances I was addicted to had caused.   The truth is, it is just a little slower to kill you! My Mom died of lung cancer, my Dad had cardio-pulmonary disease, two of my friends have mouth cancer, and my best friend has emphysema. All were smokers.

Smoking and recovery

I was addicted to tobacco and it was a very hard addiction to overcome. I quit smoking the first time after about 4-5 years clean and sober. I started running and chewing toothpicks and was successful for about 14 years. I felt better, smelled better, and was healthier because of it. Then, during a painful divorce, a friend offered me a cigarette and I said, “What the hell, one won’t hurt”. 6-7 years later, I was still smoking. I quit again for a few years and then the cigar craze started to take off. I never like cigars and resisted smoking them despite multiple friends picking it up. It looked like fun, was a social activity, and many didn’t even inhale.   Eventually I tried one. This led to weekend cigars, then evening cigars, then several inhaled daily. Once again I was hooked on tobacco. I finally stopped those couple of years ago and, hopefully, will never smoke again. One Day at a Time. I have to admit, they still call to me once in a while. And those new vapor things are intriguing. A lot of people I see smoking them at meetings tell me that they are “safe”. Right.

Smoking and recovery

Keep up the great work Mike!

Smoking is an addiction.  If you would like would like to speak with someone about quitting smoking, please contact Bridgeway Behavioral Health today by calling 866-758-1152 or visiting us online

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