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Smoking and Mental Illness Connection

Published : 2013-02-17 - Updated : 2013-02-18
Author : Disabled World

Synopsis* : Study reveals 44.3% of cigarettes in the United States are consumed by people with forms of mental illnesses or substance abuse disorders.

Main Digest

People who experience forms of mental illnesses also have very high rates of smoking. A study by The Journal of the American Medical Association reported that 44.3% of all of the cigarettes in the United States of America are consumed by people who live with forms of mental illnesses or other substance abuse disorders. What this means is that people living with mental illness are around two-times as likely to smoke as other people. Fortunately, people who experience mental illness also have substantial quit rates, almost as high as the population of those without mental illness.

The Connection between Mental Illness and Smoking

There is no one, specific reason why so many people with forms of mental illnesses smoke. It might be a combination of psychological effects, brain effects, and the social environment in which we all live. From a brain-based perspective, research is being performed in order to determine if and how nicotine is involved in some of the brain's memory functions. If nicotine is indeed a factor, it might explain why so many people with mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and other forms of mental illness involving cognitive deficits smoke. Even though smoking is believed to enhance cognition and concentration, the effects are short in duration.

The medical community and researchers have a lot to learn about how smoking impacts the brains of people living with forms of mental illnesses. What is known is that people who have been diagnosed with schizophrenia many times smoke prior to the onset of symptoms. They also smoke more often and inhale the smoke more deeply than smokers who do not have schizophrenia.

Even though there remains much to be learned about the reasons people smoke, there is an abundance of information to support the serious health risks related to smoking. While there might be reasons why people are attracted to smoking, the key is to find out ways to increase the rates of quitting. Nicotine is not a health issue of itself, but when smoked and combined with literally hundreds of additional chemicals that are present in cigarettes - the practice of smoking is toxic.

From a psychological perspective, every addiction soothes cravings. People many times find themselves less tense and relaxed when their addictions are fed. The same is true in regards to cigarette smoking. Smoking may also be a part of a social norm, one where people in a person's social group all socialize and smoke together. Some people who experience mental illness learn to smoke in group-living settings or a hospital. These examples demonstrate how mental health culture must move towards reducing the tie between socialization and cigarette smoking.

Smoking Facts

Sadly, people die from smoking-related illnesses. Each year, smoking kills around 200,000 people who also experience forms of mental illnesses. Smoking harms almost every single organ in a person's body while diminishing their overall health. Smoking is a leading cause of cancer and cancer-related death. Smoking causes stroke, heart disease, as well as lung disease. With the increased risk of heart disease from second-generation atypical antipsychotic medications (SGA's), people who experience mental illness need to try to quit smoking.

Inhaled cigarette smoke is comprised of 4,000 different chemicals to include:

No tobacco product is safe and switching to a, 'chew,' or smokeless tobacco product does not eliminate a person's risk of smoking-related diseases.

Many people are finally realizing the fact that smoking is truly a health hazard. They understand the need to quit smoking in order to live longer lives. More psychiatric facilities are going smoke-free and organizations are advocating for access to smoking cessation in outpatient settings.

Facts About Second-hand Smoke

Two types of second-hand smoke exist. One of them is, 'mainstream smoke,' and is the smoke that is exhaled by a person who smokes. The second type is, 'sidestream smoke,' and is the smoke that comes from a burning cigarette, pipe, or cigar. People who do not smoke who are around people who do smoke inhale second-hand smoke. The smoke lingers in the air after cigarettes, pipes, or cigars have been extinguished. Exposure to second-hand smoke is called, 'involuntary smoking,' or, 'passive smoking.' Second-hand smoke may cause or exacerbate a number of adverse health effects, particularly in children. Second-hand smoke has been classified by the Environmental Protection Agency as a known carcinogen. The smoke contains hundreds of chemicals to include:

The American Lung Association states that second-hand smoke causes nearly 50,000 deaths in adult non-smokers in America every single year, to include approximately 3,400 deaths from lung cancer and up to 69,000 deaths from heart disease. Second-hand smoke can also irritate a person's lungs and cause wheezing, coughing, increased phlegm and breathlessness. Children who are exposed experience an increased risk of ear infections, asthma attacks, and lung diseases such as bronchitis and pneumonia.

Do not permit anyone to smoke in your home in order to protect yourself and your family from second-hand smoke. If you have loved ones or co-workers who do smoke, make sure they are aware that you would prefer them not to smoke around you and your family. Do not smoke or permit others to smoke in your vehicle. Choose bars and restaurants that are smoke-free. Make sure your child's day care, school, and after-school programs are smoke-free. Ask your employer, hospital, clubhouse, or day program to create a smoke-free policy.

The Effects of Smoking on Medications and Symptoms

Research has demonstrated that people who experience mental illness do not have worse symptoms after they quit smoking. It is understandable that this may be a concern related to quitting smoking. Quitting is hard and might take several attempts for a person to be successful. Get support, speak with your doctor, set a quit date and reach for the resources that are available to you to quit smoking.

People who smoke and then quit can usually get the same treatment results from lower doses of psychiatric medications. Smoking increases the breakdown of medications in a person's body, so smokers need to take higher doses of medications in order to achieve the same results as a person who does not smoke. Without cigarettes a person might need to take less medication. An additional benefit is that a reduction in dose will most likely reduce the side-effects related to medications, such as weight gain or other side-effects.

Diabetes and Smoking

Living with more than one medical issue is very difficult. Diabetes is a huge issue for a number of people who also experience a form of mental illness and like smoking, it increases the chances of early death. The two issues together are twice as dangerous. Smoking is extremely bad for diabetes; the two combined worsen all risks. As an example, smoking and diabetes combined increase a person's chances of having a heart attack 11 times more than people in the population as a whole. Make sure you speak with a health care provider about ways to manage the risks, as well as how to prioritize your own care efforts.

Adult Smoking
Focusing on People with Mental Illness

Despite overall declines in smoking, many people with mental illness smoke than people without mental illness.

Smoking and Mental Illness

The average number of cigarettes smoked in the past month was higher among adult smokers who had mental illness than among smokers who did not have mental illness.

Smoking Cessation Health Center

Adults with mental illness have a smoking rate 70% higher than adults with no mental illness, a new report suggests.

About the Author

Disabled World (Disabled-World.Com) is an independent disability community established in 2004 to provide disability news, assistive technology reviews, and disability sporting events, as well as general information for people with disabilities, seniors, their family and/or carers. Be sure to check out our homepage for informative reviews, exclusive stories and how-tos. You can also find us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

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Cite Page: Journal: Disabled World. Language: English (U.S.). Author: Disabled World. Electronic Publication Date: 2013-02-17 - Revised: 2013-02-18. Title: Smoking and Mental Illness Connection, Source: <a href=>Smoking and Mental Illness Connection</a>. Retrieved 2021-05-09, from - Reference: DW#274-9577.