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Persons with Psychiatric Disorders More Likely to Smoke

Mental Disorders & Smoking

SmokingAccording to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, studies have recently revealed that people who are diagnosed with a mental disorder are 70 percent more likely to begin smoking cigarettes than people who do not have a mental disorder.[1] In fact, one in every three adults with a mental illness picks up smoking, compared to one in five adults who are mentally healthy.1

Director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Thomas Frieden, stated that people who are mentally ill and smokers are more likely to die early of their smoking habit rather than from complications due to their mental condition.1

Smoking is a Coping Mechanism

Frieden states that the National Survey on Drug Use and Health conducted a study from 2009 to 2011, interviewing 138,000 adults.1 The adults were asked a series of questions to determine their mental status and whether or not they were a smoker.1

The link between mental illness and smoking cigarettes may be interesting. Mentally ill patients may use nicotine as a coping mechanism for stress and to mask some of the symptoms of certain disorders.1 However, smoking cigarettes can actually make some medicines less effective, leaving the patient to feel more symptoms of their illness.1 Also, the tobacco industry promotes cigarettes as an incentive for good behavior in jails and psychiatric hospitals, as they have always historically done.1

More Effective Treatments to Quit Smoking Needed

Overall, smoking in persons with psychiatric disorders is a health problem that needs to continue to be researched for precise reasons to be discovered and effective treatments to be developed.1


[1] Belluck, Pam. “People With Mental Illness More Likely to Be Smokers, Study Finds.” The New York Times. The New York Times Company, 5 Feb. 2013. Web. 8 Feb. 2013. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/06/health/more-smoking-found-by-mentally-ill-people.html?_r=1&. Smoking.

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