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Smoking

Dealing with mental illness can be tough, and some folks may turn to smoking to cope with their symptoms and life stress.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), an estimated 18.2 million adults in the United States with mental illness use tobacco products, including cigarettes, cigars, and e-cigarettes. This is significantly higher than the rate of tobacco use among adults in the general population, which is 14%

This means that even though only a quarter of American adults have mental health problems, they buy 40% of all cigarettes in the country. This extra smoking is harmful to their mental and physical health and can lead to problems in the long run.

Smoking might seem like it helps with some mental health symptoms temporarily, but it’s not a good solution. It can lead to more serious health issues like heart disease, cancer, and lung disease. Plus, it can make mental health symptoms worse in the long run.

Vaping is not a safe alternative to smoking, as e-cigarettes also contain nicotine and other chemicals. It’s important to know that e-cigarettes are not approved for quitting smoking by the FDA.

Young people, including those with mental health problems, are using e-cigarettes more and more. They may use smoking as a way to cope with mental health symptoms or stress.

Here are some key facts to remember:

  • Many people with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder smoke.
  • Secondhand smoke can harm non-smokers.
  • Smoking can be expensive, and quitting can save money.
  • Most people with mental health problems want to quit smoking.
  • Quitting smoking is hard for anyone, but it’s even harder for those with mental illness. Still, it’s possible and can greatly improve your health. There are treatments and strategies to help you quit without making your mental health worse.

Here’s how you can start quitting:

  • Choose a quit date.
  • Buy only a small number of cigarettes at a time.
  • Get rid of ashtrays and lighters.
  • Figure out what triggers your smoking.
  • Find healthy ways to distract yourself.
  • Let someone you trust know about your plan to quit.

There are three common ways to quit smoking:

  • Cold Turkey: You stop all at once.
  • Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT): You use products like gum or patches to help reduce withdrawal symptoms.
  • Prescription Medications: Two FDA-approved drugs, varenicline and bupropion, can help. They’re safe for people with mental illness.

No matter which method you choose, talk to your healthcare provider to create a personalized quit plan. Don’t wait for them to bring it up; you can start the conversation. They can answer your questions and help you quit smoking safely.