Background: Literature suggests that tobacco smoking among clients in alcohol treatment has important clinical implications, including poorer treatment outcome. Much of this literature, however, has been derived from research-based treatment samples that utilized stringent inclusion and exclusion criteria, limiting generalizability of findings.
Objective: In order to further our understanding of the correlates of smoking among clients with alcohol problems, the present research examines tobacco smoking status at admission for 21,128 adult treatment seekers from 253 community outpatient substance abuse clinics across New York State.
Methods: This sample includes tobacco smokers at admission (62%) and women (25%). Clinical complexities at admission (unemployment, lack of high school diploma/GED, criminal justice involvement, mental illness, polysubstance abuse) and length of treatment stay and alcohol-related goal achievement at discharge were assessed by clinic staff.
Results: Mixed models revealed that tobacco smoking was significantly associated with all five clinical complexities; interactions with gender indicated that this association was stronger for women with regard to criminal justice involvement and polysubstance abuse. Also, these smokers evidenced shorter substance disorder treatment duration and were less likely to achieve alcohol-related treatment goals relative to their nonsmoking counterparts.
Conclusions: Admission tobacco smoking status of alcohol treatment seekers is an important client characteristic with regard to clinical presentation and treatment outcome. Our findings underscore the need to further our understanding of the complexities associated with smoking and especially as it pertains to female smokers.
Keywords: Alcoholism; gender; substance abuse; tobacco smoking; treatment outcome.