Cigarettes and Coffee: A Recovery Report Card

by The Discovering Alcoholic on May 19, 2009

Original Pic by Kah Magueta now at The Discovering Alcoholic under creative commons attribution licenseI always said that I only smoked when I drank, but since I drank ALL THE TIME it was really a very misleading statement. This was proven true when my smoking only increased in recovery, especially early sobriety. Then it became cigarettes and coffee, the dietary staples of a recovery meeting. I couldn’t think of having one without the other and believed my recovery depended on having both. It took a few years to become comfortable in my recovery, many more to quit smoking… and coffee, well the love affair is still strong.

Research is now showing that one of the reasons why I may have felt uncomfortable for so long may have been the cigarettes. A recent study shows that smoking interferes with recovery from alcohol-related brain damage.

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Alcohol-use disorders (AUDs) can damage the brain, particularly the frontal and parietal cortices, although this damage is at least partially reversible with sustained abstinence from alcohol… “The brain’s frontal lobes are involved in higher-order cognitive function, such as learning, short-term memory, reasoning, planning, problem solving, and emotional control,” explained Anderson Mon, senior research fellow in the department of radiology at the University of California, San Francisco and corresponding author for the study. “The parietal lobes are involved in aspects of attentional regulation and visuospatial processing. Chronic and excessive drinking is associated with neurobiological abnormalities in these regions, which contribute to the cognitive dysfunction frequently observed in those with AUDs after detoxification.”

Bad for your health- and recovery, so cigarettes get a well deserved failing grade. Coffee on the other hand has recently been moved to the front of the class. In the past coffee had always been cast in a negative light by health professionals, but coffee researcher and epidemiologist at the Harvard School of Public Health, Rob van Dam, says new studies show just the opposite.

What happened? Lots of new research, and the recognition that older, negative studies often failed to tease apart the effects of coffee and those of smoking because so many coffee drinkers were also smokers.

Those darn cigarettes. FAIL!

Coffee drinkers, rejoice! The heavenly brew, once deemed harmful to health, is turning out to be, if not quite a health food, at least a low-risk drink, and in many ways a beneficial one. It could protect against diabetes, liver cancer, cirrhosis and Parkinson’s disease.

So put down that cigarette, especially those of you in early recovery. I know it may seem impossible now, but losing the butts may actually help you find a comfort zone in your recovery sooner rather than later. You can however still enjoy a delicious cup of coffee, in fact, stop by later this week and I will share my favorite international twist on conventional coffee, Vietnamese ca phe sua da. Coffee rates an A.

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