Families of adults and adolescents across Florida are widely aware of the status of Family Recovery Specialists as one of the leading intensive outpatient programs tackling alcohol and drug abuse. What they may be less aware of, however, is the smoking cessation program that it now offers. Available free of charge, the new service makes Family Recovery Specialists one of the relatively few adolescent programs to even address the topic, let alone offer a complete dedicated program.
If parents have not read and are concerned by the 31st Surgeon General’s report on youth smoking, they certainly should be – after all, the figures have potentially grave implications for our children’s future. It is now 50 years since the release of the first Surgeon General’s report warning us about the perils of smoking, and the latest report is even more eye-opening, revealing an epidemic of tobacco use among youths in the 12 to 17 age bracket, as well as adults aged between 18 and 25 years old.
Guardians both taking advantage and not taking advantage of intensive outpatient programs like Family Recovery Specialists will be concerned to read the report’s finding that more than 600,000 middle school and 3 million high school students smoke cigarettes. Not only that, but smoking can be attributed to more than 1,200 deaths each day. For each of those deaths per day, at least two youth or young adults begin to smoke regularly for the first time. After a period of decline for smokeless tobacco use, it now appears to be on the rise again among certain groups, with cigars – in particular cigarette-sized cigars – being popular among youth.
It is common for young people to use multiple tobacco products, including cigarettes, cigars and smokeless tobacco. Furthermore, it is almost unheard-of for people to begin smoking after the age of 25. Almost 90 per cent of smokers started smoking before their 18th birthday, with 99 per cent starting by age 26 – the age by which smoking almost always progresses from an occasional to a daily habit. Tobacco use is therefore a major concern for many of those parents who have put their adult or adolescent children through intensive outpatient programs.
That is especially the case given the Surgeon General’s report’s statement that “the younger youth are when they start using tobacco, the more likely they’ll be addicted.” Indeed, the likelihood of teenage smokers using alcohol is three times greater than is the case for their non-smoking peers. Marijuana use is eight times more likely, while the use of cocaine is 22 times more likely. Behaviors like fighting and unprotected sex are also more common among teenagers who smoke, while discoveries are still being made into the longer-term, perhaps permanent effects of teenage nicotine use.
There has therefore never been a greater need for intensive outpatient programs incorporating tobacco cessation treatment, like that of Family Recovery Specialists, as offered by Masters prepared nurse and Certified Addiction Registered Nurse and Tobacco Treatment Specialist Suzan Blacher.