A Systematic Review of Smoking Cessation Interventions for Adults in Substance Abuse Treatment or Recovery

Nicotine Tob Res. 2016 May;18(5):993-1001. doi: 10.1093/ntr/ntv127. Epub 2015 Jun 11.


Introduction: The aim was to evaluate the effectiveness of smoking cessation interventions for patients with substance use disorders. The secondary aim was to evaluate impact on substance use treatment outcomes.

Methods: Randomized controlled trials involving adult smokers, recently or currently receiving inpatient or outpatient treatment for substance use disorders were reviewed. Databases, grey literature, reference lists, and journals were searched for relevant studies between 1990 and August 2014. Two authors extracted data and assessed quality. The primary outcome was biochemically verified continuous abstinence from smoking at 6 or 12 months, secondary outcomes were biochemically verified 7-day point prevalence smoking abstinence (PPA) at 6 or 12 months and substance use outcomes. Heterogeneity between studies precluded pooled analyses of the data.

Results: Seventeen of 847 publications were included. Five studies reported significant effects on smoking cessation: (1) nicotine patches improved continuous abstinence at 6 months; (2) nicotine gum improved continuous abstinence at 12 months; (3) counseling, contingency management and relapse prevention improved continuous abstinence at 6 and 12 months; (4) cognitive behavioral therapy, plus nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), improved PPA at 6 months; and (5) a combination of bupropion, NRT, counseling and contingency management improved PPA at 6 months. Two studies showed some evidence of improved substance use outcomes with the remaining eight studies measuring substance use outcomes showing no difference.

Conclusions: NRT, behavioral support, and combination approaches appear to increase smoking abstinence in those treated for substance use disorders. Higher quality studies are required to strengthen the evidence base.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Counseling
  • Humans
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Smoking Cessation* / methods
  • Smoking Cessation* / statistics & numerical data
  • Substance-Related Disorders*
  • Tobacco Use Cessation Devices
  • Tobacco Use Disorder / therapy*