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Providence — CODAC Behavioral Healthcare announced that it is helping to lead a new statewide effort on tobacco cessation, especially among those in treatment for mental health and substance use disorders.
CODAC is uniquely positioned to contribute to the smoking cessation effort since it pioneered a dual substance use disorder and smoking cessation program in the early 2010s.
“CODAC has been really focused on tobacco cessation for 15 years. We were the first opioid treatment program in the country to become a tobacco-free campus. Tobacco is the only substance use disorder that will absolutely kill its users and is the leading cause of preventable deaths. Over fifty percent of the people who use tobacco will die of smoking-related conditions. However, because the fatalities are not as acute and because it’s legal, there continues to be this sense of diminished risk,” said Linda Hurley, President and CEO of CODAC.
Because CODAC is a medication-assisted treatment facility, we decided we had an ethical imperative to also use medication to assist its patients in smoking cessation, Hurley said.
In mid-July, 40 individuals representing tobacco control, behavioral health, public health, cancer control, primary providers, nonprofit organizations, and other services from across Rhode Island participated in a virtual summit hosted by SAMHA’s Tobacco Cessation Leadership Center.
Other sponsors of the summit included Rhode Island’s Department of Health, Rhode Island Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals, and the Executive Office of Health and Human Services.
The purpose of the summit is to develop solutions to reduce the prevalence of tobacco use among adults with behavioral health disorders. CODAC was represented at the summit by two staff members. Also, two CODAC patients also gave a presentation and participated in a Q&A, sharing details of their journeys to quit smoking and testifying to the effectiveness of a behavioral health program that provides tobacco cessation, treatment, education and services, including a peer-support group.
Following the summit, four work groups have been established to identify existing resources and establish partnerships to effectively leverage these resources. The four groups are: Data, Education, Policy, and Systems Change, Equity, and Access. CODAC’s President and CEO Linda Hurley is co-chairing the Education subcommittee and CODAC’s Tobacco Program Coordinator, Carolyn James, is co-chairing the subcommittee on Systems Change, Equity, and Access.
Although smoking rates are on the decline nationally, a high number of adults and youth still smoke. In 2018, 14.6 percent of Rhode Island adults smoked and, in 2019, 4.2 percent of high school students had smoked cigarettes at least once in the past 30 days, according to CDC data. In addition, vaping has increased the popularity of tobacco use among youth. In 2019, 30.1 percent of high school students used electronic vapor products at least once in a 30-day period, according to the CDC.
About CODAC Behavioral Healthcare
Founded in 1971, CODAC Behavioral Healthcare is Rhode Island’s oldest and largest provider of outpatient services for opioid use disorder, other substance use disorders, and concurrent behavioral health challenges. With seven locations across Rhode Island and MAT programs in the RI ACI and the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department, MA, CODAC is uniquely positioned to provide services when and where they are needed. For more information about CODAC, visit: www.codacinc.org.