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Mental Illness and the Benefits of Quitting Smoking

Author: Thomas C. Weiss : Contact: Disabled World

Published: 2013-02-18 : (Rev. 2017-01-02)

Synopsis and Key Points:

Information methods and reasons to help quit smoking for immediate long-term health and social benefits.

Main Digest

Quitting smoking presents people who smoke with immediate and long-term benefits. A number of these benefits are ones that a former smoker will notice right away. For example, your sense of taste will improve, as well as your sense of smell, and your hair, clothes, and breath will all smell better. People who quit smoking will notice their fingernails and teeth stop yellowing, they will save money, and they will have more time and energy to pursue activities. People who quit smoking will also notice that they are more socially acceptable to those who do not smoke.

Within minutes of smoking your last cigarette and beyond, your body starts to restore itself. After 20 minutes, your blood pressure and heart rate drop. After 12 hours, the level of carbon monoxide in your blood drops to average. Once 2 weeks to 3 months have passed, your circulation improves and your lung function increases.

People who quit smoking will discover that 1 to 9 months after they have quit smoking shortness of breath and coughing will decrease and their lung function will normalize. After a year, their excess risk of heart disease is reduced by 50%. Five years after a person has quit smoking, their risk of stroke is equivalent to that of a non-smoker. Ten years after a person has quit smoking, their lung cancer death rate is half of a person who smokes, and after 15 years, their risk of heart disease is equal to that of a person who does not smoke.

Tips and Support for Quitting Success

Quitting smoking is difficult, but you can do it. Research plainly demonstrates that people who live with forms of mental illnesses can and do quit. The rates of quitting are not significantly lower than for any other population of people. While it is unusual for anyone to quit on their first attempt, a number of people are successful in their efforts after 3, 6, or even 10 attempts. If you live with a form of mental illness and smoke, work with your health care provider to find a strategy to quit smoking, find your supports and get them in order and persist in your efforts to quit smoking for your own health and wellness. There are a number of tools that can help people to quit smoking. As you prepare to quit you can increase your chances of succeeding by:

There are three steps you can take to support your health and wellness. Get ready to quit smoking and set a date. Get medicine and talk to your health care provider. Get help and call 1-800-Quit-Now or find a local support group near you. A number of NAMI affiliates offer people with forms of mental illnesses support groups.

Solid evidence exists demonstrating that simple phone support can make a real difference for people who want to quit smoking. The 1-800-Quit-Now line is a wonderful resource for people who want to quit smoking. The resource is free and many people have received help through the line. Some smoking cessation programs offer free text messages that help to provide ongoing coaching and support. Stay in contact with your friends online and keep them updated concerning your progress. You might also find help by connecting with others who have quit smoking.

Medications, Treatments, and Alternatives

People might need to rely on more than one method at a time in order to quit smoking permanently. Methods might include phone support, step-by-step manuals, counseling, self-help classes, prescription medications, and/or nicotine replacement therapies (NRT's). There are a number of products that are scientifically proven to help double or even triple a person's odds of quitting for good. It is possible; however, that a person will feel some effects of nicotine withdrawal. Obtaining temporary nicotine in your system as you quit smoking may help you feel more comfortable and in control as you begin your tobacco-free lifestyle.

Nicotine Replacement Therapies (NRT)

NRT is a combination approach that includes a smoking cessation program in addition to support and behavior change. If used appropriately, NRT can help to double or even triple your chances of quitting. Every NRT product has side-effects, so prior to deciding on an option be aware of the risks and benefits of each option. Use caution if you have heart disease, or a history of heart disease, and consult your health care provider before you begin taking medication.

Over-the-counter Options

A number of over-the-counter options exist to help you quit smoking. What follows are some of these options:

Nicotine Patch: Patches are placed on your skin and supply a small but steady amount of nicotine to your body. Patches contain various levels of nicotine and you have the ability to reduce the dose of nicotine over time.

Nicotine Gum: Nicotine gum is chewed to release the nicotine within it. Gums also have various concentrations of nicotine and you have the ability to reduce the amount of nicotine over time.

Nicotine Lozenges: Nicotine lozenges look similar to hard candy and release nicotine while dissolving in your mouth.

Prescription Options

The prescription options available to help you quit smoking can be obtained through your health care provider. Unfortunately, prescription options to quit smoking may also present side-effects. What follows are some of the prescriptions options available to help you quit smoking.

Nicotine Inhaler: A nicotine inhaler allows you to inhale nicotine through a mouthpiece at set doses.

Nicotine Nasal Spray: Nicotine nasal spray allows you to spray nicotine directly into your nose and may be used for fast control of cravings, particularly for heavy smokers. Caution is advised when using a nicotine nasal inhaler if you have high blood pressure because it could worsen the condition. It is also important to be aware if you have asthma, a heart condition, or a glandular issue such as insulin dependent diabetes.

Bupropion: Bupropion is also known by the brand name, 'Zyban,' and helps to reduce nicotine withdrawal and the urge to smoke. It may be used with nicotine replacement products. Bupropion has side-effects that include mood changes and seizures and people who have experienced a head injury, seizures, who take some types of antidepressants, have an eating disorder, or take other medications should not take the medication.

Varenicline: Varenicline is also known by the brand name, 'Chantix,' and helps to ease nicotine withdrawal symptoms while blocking the effects of nicotine from cigarettes if you start smoking again. Varenicline has side-effects that have been reported such as depressed mood, agitation, feelings of hostility, impulsive or disturbing thoughts, changes in behavior, or people thinking about harming themselves or others. It is important to tell your health care provider immediately if you experience worsening depression or other mental health issues because them may worsen if you take this particular medication.

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