Thinking of Quitting Smoking Tobacco? We Can Help You!

Cardinal Innovations Healthcare — February 12, 2021 — 4 min read
We’ve all heard that smoking tobacco is not good for our health, but quitting can be a huge challenge for anyone. The good news is that it is possible to address the dependence to nicotine. Finding the right resources and support can make all the difference. If you are living with a mental health condition and want to quit, the following information can help you succeed.


Smoking and Behavioral Health Conditions

Research shows that adults with mental health or substance use disorders smoke cigarettes more than adults without these conditions. The nicotine dependency rate for people with these diagnoses is 2-3 times higher than the general population. In the United States, 44.3% of all cigarettes are consumed by people who live with mental illness and/or substance use disorders. Statistics show that every year, smoking kills about 200,000 people who live with mental illness.
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Find resources related to mental health and substance use disorders.


Here are a few facts that explain this reality:

Nicotine temporarily affects the mood, which can hide some of the symptoms of mental health disorders. This makes this population more vulnerable and can lead them to smoke to reduce symptoms such as low concentration, low energy, and high stress. 

People with mental health conditions can experience more intense withdrawal symptoms when trying to quit, which can make quitting even harder. Nicotine withdrawal symptoms may include:
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • More appetite
  • Anxiety
  • Difficulty in concentrating
Smoking has been accepted in treatment settings for mental illness. Access to smoking is sometimes used as a reward or compensation resource during treatment. This may encourage individuals to continue smoking long term. Today, mental health organizations advocate for non-smoking mental health facilities to help reduce smoking among patients.

Some people with mental illness also face challenges like lower social and economic status. This may result in low access to health insurance. It may also cause stressful living situations, including homelessness. In this environment, a culture of tobacco is common, which makes quitting more difficult. Experts have found that this population may view smoking as one of the few things they can control in their lives, which may bring a sense of comfort in the middle of their circumstances.  

Benefits of Quitting Smoking Tobacco

Safely quitting smoking is possible for everyone. It is proven that people with a mental health diagnosis have higher rates of success when they get additional support from their mental health doctors and therapists. And the good news is that addressing smoking and mental health together can improve an individual’s overall health. So even though the person may feel discomfort in the beginning, they will soon enjoy the benefits of quitting. These may include:
  • Reduced depression, anxiety, and stress
  • Food tastes better
  • Sense of smell returns to normal
  • Breath, hair, and clothes smell better
  • Teeth and fingernails stop yellowing
  • Ordinary activities (like climbing stairs or light housework) leaves the person less out of breath
  • General better quality of life 
Also, if a smoker with a mental health condition quits, they may be able to get the same psychiatric treatment results from lower doses of medications. Studies show that smoking can interact and interfere with psychiatric medications, which may result in the need for higher medication doses. However, any decisions related to treatment adjustments must always be supervised by a psychiatrist.

And the list of benefits doesn’t end here. See the graphic below for extra motivation!

 

Free Tobacco Cessation Program

As you continue working on your health goals, consider joining this session. On February 24, from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m., Cardinal Innovations will partner with Joyce Swetlick, NC DHHS Director of Tobacco Cessation. We will share information on the statewide free program called QuitlineNC.

In this session, you will learn more about this program to improve your health. Registration is required and closes two business days before the class begins.​ You can find more details and register by visiting our Events Calendar.

Need Mental Health Help Fast?

Call **ASK (star-star-2-7-5) from your cell phone or 1-800-939-5911.

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