Smoking and Mental Health

Reviewed Nov 1, 2017

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Summary

  • People with mental illness have high rates of smoking.
  • Studies show that people who smoke and have mental illness want to quit and can, but barriers stand in the way of quitting attempts.

Many people who have mental health problems smoke regularly. A large study in the United States found that people with mental illness are about twice as likely to smoke as other people. The study also found that people with mental illness consume less than half of all the cigarettes smoked in the United States.

Despite high smoking rates, studies show that people with mental illness can, and want to, quit smoking. In fact, quit rates for people who smoke and have mental illness are nearly as high as for other people. But people with mental illness face barriers to quitting that can keep them from trying in the first place.

This article will talk about:

  • Factors that may find the link between smoking and mental illness
  • What keeps those who smoke and have mental illness from quitting
  • Quitting methods that can help people with mental illness

Why do people with mental illness smoke more?

Many theories try to explain such high smoking rates, including:

  • Genetics. Some people may inherit genes that increase their chance of smoking and mental illness. Certain gene variations that play a role in both mental and drug overuse problems also appear to play a role in smoking behavior.
  • Brain chemicals. Nicotine affects the action of certain brain chemicals involved in mental illness and alcohol and drug problems. Dopamine is one type of brain chemical that is affected by nicotine. It is involved in the brain’s reward and pleasure system.
  • Self-medication. Some people with mental illness smoke to lessen symptoms. A person may light up to cope with depression or anxiety. People with schizophrenia may light up to help memory and attention.

Smoking may be a risk factor for mental illness

Research suggests that smoking raises your chance of mental illness. For instance, people who smoke are more likely than those who don't or used to smoke to have a first-time panic attack. Nearly all people who smoke and have schizophrenia regularly smoked before developing the disease. Young people who smoke have higher future chance of depression and anxiety.

Why is quitting hard for people who smoke and have mental illness?

People who smoke and have mental illness want to quit, and they can. But they may need more intensive treatment than those without it. Many believe that people who smoke and have mental illness can’t quit. Because of this stigma, doctors might not ask people with mental illness about their tobacco use or quitting. Many people also believe that quitting would threaten mental health recovery by taking away a coping method and worsening symptoms. This is why smoking is tolerated in some drug and alcohol treatment programs. But studies do not support this, and it is not allowed in most inpatient programs.

What methods can help people who smoke and have mental illness quit for good?

Methods proven to help most people who smoke quit can most often help people with mental illness as well. Experts have found that people who smoke and have mental illness benefit the most from quit-smoking programs that:

  • Are intensive. This means they offer four or more, one-on-one office visits, each which last at least 10 minutes.
  • Deliver quit-smoking interventions through many types of care providers. Successful programs also blend quit-smoking treatment with medical and mental health care.
  • Support the use of drugs to take care of withdrawal symptoms and cravings. People with mental illness seem to have more withdrawal symptoms when quitting than other people. Some people might benefit from long-term use of quitting medicines.
  • Give useful counseling, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), as well as social support. CBT focuses on identifying and changing harmful patterns of thinking, behavior, and feeling. Individual or group therapy, or a mixture of both, can work. Groups of eight to 10 people that meet once a week for seven to 10 weeks, have the most successful quit rates. With the developing popularity and acceptance of the phone as a key social-networking tool, phone counseling support is also on the rise.
  • Check depressive or other mental health symptoms and medication side effects while quitting.

With individualized treatment and support that fits the person more people with mental illness can quit smoking for good.

Resources

www.smokefree.gov

Guide To Quitting Smoking. American Cancer Society, 2014. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/Healthy/StayAwayfromTobacco/GuidetoQuittingSmoking/index

CHOICES (Consumers Helping Others Improve Their Condition by Ending Smoking)
www.njchoices.org

National Mental Health Consumers’ Self-help Clearinghouse
www.mhselfhelp.org

By Christine P. Martin
Source: Lasser K, Boyd JW, Woolhandler S, Himmelstein DU, McCormick D, Bor DH. "Smoking and mental illness: a population-based prevalence study." JAMA. Nov. 22/29, 2000;298(20):2606-2610. Expert Panel Addresses High Rates of Smoking in People With Psychiatric Disorders. National Institute of Mental Health, www.nimh.nih.gov/science-news/2009/expert-panel-addresses-high-rates-of-smoking-in-people-with-psychiatric-disorders.shtml. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Results from the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Mental Health Findings, NSDUH Series H-42, HHS Publication No. (SMA) 11-4667. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2012; U.S. adult mental illness surveillance report. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Smoking Cessation for Persons With Mental Illness: A Toolkit for Mental Health Professionals. Denver, CO: University of Colorado Denver Department of Psychiatry, Behavioral Health and Wellness Program, 2009; Bjornson W. Bringing Everyone Along: Resource Guide For Health Professionals Providing Tobacco Cessation Services for People With Mental Illness and Substance Use Disorders. Portland, OR: Tobacco Cessation Leadership Network Oregon Health & Science University Smoking Cessation Center, 2008.
Reviewed by Sherrie Bieniek, MD, Group Medical Director, Beacon Health Options

Summary

  • People with mental illness have high rates of smoking.
  • Studies show that people who smoke and have mental illness want to quit and can, but barriers stand in the way of quitting attempts.

Many people who have mental health problems smoke regularly. A large study in the United States found that people with mental illness are about twice as likely to smoke as other people. The study also found that people with mental illness consume less than half of all the cigarettes smoked in the United States.

Despite high smoking rates, studies show that people with mental illness can, and want to, quit smoking. In fact, quit rates for people who smoke and have mental illness are nearly as high as for other people. But people with mental illness face barriers to quitting that can keep them from trying in the first place.

This article will talk about:

  • Factors that may find the link between smoking and mental illness
  • What keeps those who smoke and have mental illness from quitting
  • Quitting methods that can help people with mental illness

Why do people with mental illness smoke more?

Many theories try to explain such high smoking rates, including:

  • Genetics. Some people may inherit genes that increase their chance of smoking and mental illness. Certain gene variations that play a role in both mental and drug overuse problems also appear to play a role in smoking behavior.
  • Brain chemicals. Nicotine affects the action of certain brain chemicals involved in mental illness and alcohol and drug problems. Dopamine is one type of brain chemical that is affected by nicotine. It is involved in the brain’s reward and pleasure system.
  • Self-medication. Some people with mental illness smoke to lessen symptoms. A person may light up to cope with depression or anxiety. People with schizophrenia may light up to help memory and attention.

Smoking may be a risk factor for mental illness

Research suggests that smoking raises your chance of mental illness. For instance, people who smoke are more likely than those who don't or used to smoke to have a first-time panic attack. Nearly all people who smoke and have schizophrenia regularly smoked before developing the disease. Young people who smoke have higher future chance of depression and anxiety.

Why is quitting hard for people who smoke and have mental illness?

People who smoke and have mental illness want to quit, and they can. But they may need more intensive treatment than those without it. Many believe that people who smoke and have mental illness can’t quit. Because of this stigma, doctors might not ask people with mental illness about their tobacco use or quitting. Many people also believe that quitting would threaten mental health recovery by taking away a coping method and worsening symptoms. This is why smoking is tolerated in some drug and alcohol treatment programs. But studies do not support this, and it is not allowed in most inpatient programs.

What methods can help people who smoke and have mental illness quit for good?

Methods proven to help most people who smoke quit can most often help people with mental illness as well. Experts have found that people who smoke and have mental illness benefit the most from quit-smoking programs that:

  • Are intensive. This means they offer four or more, one-on-one office visits, each which last at least 10 minutes.
  • Deliver quit-smoking interventions through many types of care providers. Successful programs also blend quit-smoking treatment with medical and mental health care.
  • Support the use of drugs to take care of withdrawal symptoms and cravings. People with mental illness seem to have more withdrawal symptoms when quitting than other people. Some people might benefit from long-term use of quitting medicines.
  • Give useful counseling, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), as well as social support. CBT focuses on identifying and changing harmful patterns of thinking, behavior, and feeling. Individual or group therapy, or a mixture of both, can work. Groups of eight to 10 people that meet once a week for seven to 10 weeks, have the most successful quit rates. With the developing popularity and acceptance of the phone as a key social-networking tool, phone counseling support is also on the rise.
  • Check depressive or other mental health symptoms and medication side effects while quitting.

With individualized treatment and support that fits the person more people with mental illness can quit smoking for good.

Resources

www.smokefree.gov

Guide To Quitting Smoking. American Cancer Society, 2014. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/Healthy/StayAwayfromTobacco/GuidetoQuittingSmoking/index

CHOICES (Consumers Helping Others Improve Their Condition by Ending Smoking)
www.njchoices.org

National Mental Health Consumers’ Self-help Clearinghouse
www.mhselfhelp.org

By Christine P. Martin
Source: Lasser K, Boyd JW, Woolhandler S, Himmelstein DU, McCormick D, Bor DH. "Smoking and mental illness: a population-based prevalence study." JAMA. Nov. 22/29, 2000;298(20):2606-2610. Expert Panel Addresses High Rates of Smoking in People With Psychiatric Disorders. National Institute of Mental Health, www.nimh.nih.gov/science-news/2009/expert-panel-addresses-high-rates-of-smoking-in-people-with-psychiatric-disorders.shtml. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Results from the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Mental Health Findings, NSDUH Series H-42, HHS Publication No. (SMA) 11-4667. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2012; U.S. adult mental illness surveillance report. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Smoking Cessation for Persons With Mental Illness: A Toolkit for Mental Health Professionals. Denver, CO: University of Colorado Denver Department of Psychiatry, Behavioral Health and Wellness Program, 2009; Bjornson W. Bringing Everyone Along: Resource Guide For Health Professionals Providing Tobacco Cessation Services for People With Mental Illness and Substance Use Disorders. Portland, OR: Tobacco Cessation Leadership Network Oregon Health & Science University Smoking Cessation Center, 2008.
Reviewed by Sherrie Bieniek, MD, Group Medical Director, Beacon Health Options

Summary

  • People with mental illness have high rates of smoking.
  • Studies show that people who smoke and have mental illness want to quit and can, but barriers stand in the way of quitting attempts.

Many people who have mental health problems smoke regularly. A large study in the United States found that people with mental illness are about twice as likely to smoke as other people. The study also found that people with mental illness consume less than half of all the cigarettes smoked in the United States.

Despite high smoking rates, studies show that people with mental illness can, and want to, quit smoking. In fact, quit rates for people who smoke and have mental illness are nearly as high as for other people. But people with mental illness face barriers to quitting that can keep them from trying in the first place.

This article will talk about:

  • Factors that may find the link between smoking and mental illness
  • What keeps those who smoke and have mental illness from quitting
  • Quitting methods that can help people with mental illness

Why do people with mental illness smoke more?

Many theories try to explain such high smoking rates, including:

  • Genetics. Some people may inherit genes that increase their chance of smoking and mental illness. Certain gene variations that play a role in both mental and drug overuse problems also appear to play a role in smoking behavior.
  • Brain chemicals. Nicotine affects the action of certain brain chemicals involved in mental illness and alcohol and drug problems. Dopamine is one type of brain chemical that is affected by nicotine. It is involved in the brain’s reward and pleasure system.
  • Self-medication. Some people with mental illness smoke to lessen symptoms. A person may light up to cope with depression or anxiety. People with schizophrenia may light up to help memory and attention.

Smoking may be a risk factor for mental illness

Research suggests that smoking raises your chance of mental illness. For instance, people who smoke are more likely than those who don't or used to smoke to have a first-time panic attack. Nearly all people who smoke and have schizophrenia regularly smoked before developing the disease. Young people who smoke have higher future chance of depression and anxiety.

Why is quitting hard for people who smoke and have mental illness?

People who smoke and have mental illness want to quit, and they can. But they may need more intensive treatment than those without it. Many believe that people who smoke and have mental illness can’t quit. Because of this stigma, doctors might not ask people with mental illness about their tobacco use or quitting. Many people also believe that quitting would threaten mental health recovery by taking away a coping method and worsening symptoms. This is why smoking is tolerated in some drug and alcohol treatment programs. But studies do not support this, and it is not allowed in most inpatient programs.

What methods can help people who smoke and have mental illness quit for good?

Methods proven to help most people who smoke quit can most often help people with mental illness as well. Experts have found that people who smoke and have mental illness benefit the most from quit-smoking programs that:

  • Are intensive. This means they offer four or more, one-on-one office visits, each which last at least 10 minutes.
  • Deliver quit-smoking interventions through many types of care providers. Successful programs also blend quit-smoking treatment with medical and mental health care.
  • Support the use of drugs to take care of withdrawal symptoms and cravings. People with mental illness seem to have more withdrawal symptoms when quitting than other people. Some people might benefit from long-term use of quitting medicines.
  • Give useful counseling, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), as well as social support. CBT focuses on identifying and changing harmful patterns of thinking, behavior, and feeling. Individual or group therapy, or a mixture of both, can work. Groups of eight to 10 people that meet once a week for seven to 10 weeks, have the most successful quit rates. With the developing popularity and acceptance of the phone as a key social-networking tool, phone counseling support is also on the rise.
  • Check depressive or other mental health symptoms and medication side effects while quitting.

With individualized treatment and support that fits the person more people with mental illness can quit smoking for good.

Resources

www.smokefree.gov

Guide To Quitting Smoking. American Cancer Society, 2014. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/Healthy/StayAwayfromTobacco/GuidetoQuittingSmoking/index

CHOICES (Consumers Helping Others Improve Their Condition by Ending Smoking)
www.njchoices.org

National Mental Health Consumers’ Self-help Clearinghouse
www.mhselfhelp.org

By Christine P. Martin
Source: Lasser K, Boyd JW, Woolhandler S, Himmelstein DU, McCormick D, Bor DH. "Smoking and mental illness: a population-based prevalence study." JAMA. Nov. 22/29, 2000;298(20):2606-2610. Expert Panel Addresses High Rates of Smoking in People With Psychiatric Disorders. National Institute of Mental Health, www.nimh.nih.gov/science-news/2009/expert-panel-addresses-high-rates-of-smoking-in-people-with-psychiatric-disorders.shtml. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Results from the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Mental Health Findings, NSDUH Series H-42, HHS Publication No. (SMA) 11-4667. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2012; U.S. adult mental illness surveillance report. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Smoking Cessation for Persons With Mental Illness: A Toolkit for Mental Health Professionals. Denver, CO: University of Colorado Denver Department of Psychiatry, Behavioral Health and Wellness Program, 2009; Bjornson W. Bringing Everyone Along: Resource Guide For Health Professionals Providing Tobacco Cessation Services for People With Mental Illness and Substance Use Disorders. Portland, OR: Tobacco Cessation Leadership Network Oregon Health & Science University Smoking Cessation Center, 2008.
Reviewed by Sherrie Bieniek, MD, Group Medical Director, Beacon Health Options

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, quizzes, and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical, health care, psychiatric, psychological or behavioral health care advice. Nothing contained on the Achieve Solutions site is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care professional. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have concerns about your health, please contact your health care provider.  ©2017 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

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