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Addressing Tobacco Use in One’s Personal Journey of Recovery

by Pennsylvania Department of Health

Jul 20, 2022
Addiction Treatment and Resources

The Department of Health Monday announced it is increasing efforts to encourage Pennsylvanians who are engaged in drug and alcohol recovery programs to seek treatment for tobacco use as part of their recovery.

The Pennsylvania Statewide Tobacco-Free Recovery Initiative (STFRI) was first launched in 2021. The education through STFRI includes a hope-inducing message that, through evidence-based treatment interventions, tobacco recovery is safe and achievable. Every day, 12 Pennsylvanians lose their lives to the life-altering effects of substance use.

In addition to the physical health benefits of reducing or eliminating tobacco use, research suggests that treatment​ for tobacco use may ​also increase long-term abstinence from substances, including opioids.​

“People with mental and substance use disorders can experience additional benefits by successfully recovering from their tobacco use at the same time,” said Acting Secretary of Health and Physician General Dr. Denise Johnson. “Learning tobacco-free coping skills not only improves physical health, but also improves behavioral health outcomes.”

The department has launched a new media campaign promoting tobacco-free recovery, encouraging people who are living with mental illness and substance use disorders to seek treatment for tobacco use.

The PA Free Quitline, a statewide program that helps nearly 32 percent of its participants to quit tobacco use each year, is also available with recently added services for callers with behavioral health needs, helping one of the largest demographics of smokers to be even more likely to succeed in their quest to quit.

In partnership with National Jewish Health, PA Free Quitline and smoking cessation services are available to all Pennsylvanians 24 hours per day seven days per week. The PA Free

Quitline offers:

  • up to five coaching sessions by phone
  • unlimited calls to the PA Free Quitline as needed
  • educational materials on quitting tobacco use
  • free Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) for qualified callers (up to eight weeks of patches)

“We’re excited about the latest enhancements to the PA Free Quitline and the Pennsylvania Statewide Tobacco-Free Recovery Initiative overall because we know that they provide support for longer, healthier lives for Pennsylvanians,” said Dr. Johnson. “These programs aim to provide the best possible care and resources for those who need help quitting tobacco, especially those who also are struggling with mental or substance use disorders at the same time.”

“The coaches’ support helped me to build momentum to fight this addiction, walk through the unpleasant withdrawals without picking up, and obtain the freedom to live the healthy lifestyle I live today. It’s been over 4 years!” shared one anonymous Quitline graduate.

These initiatives are part of Governor ​Tom Wolf’s legacy as a tireless advocate in the fight against the epidemic of substance abuse.

Individuals who need help on their journey to a tobacco-free life can call 1-800-QUIT-NOW or visit https://tobaccofreerecoverypa.com

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