Although many men and women who smoke are afraid of letting go of their smoking habit during their early recovery, recent research shows that ending a nicotine addiction can actually improve mental health. Along these lines, some people might be particularly attached to smoking if they also have a mental illness in addition to experiencing addiction.
Smoking Cessation May Help Substance Abuse Disorders
However, a recent study conducted at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri found that smoking cessation may help recovery from substance use disorders and from mood and anxiety disorders. The study included 5,000 daily smokers who completed the National Epidemiological Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions. Three years later, the participants were surveyed again. During the first interview, about 24 percent of the participants had a current or past history of a drug use disorder; 50 percent had an alcohol use disorder; and 39 percent had a mood or anxiety disorder.
The differences in the participants responses between both interviews were startling. Almost 60 percent of the respondents reported that they cut back on smoking by about 10 percent. Furthermore, there were about 19 participants who quit smoking altogether. Not only was there less smoking among the group, but there was also an improvement in their mental health. For instance, some of those who had reported having a mental health disorder no longer struggled with its symptoms at the time of the follow up interview. However, it should be noted that there were some participants who had developed a disorder who had not had one at the first interview.
Nonetheless, the results revealed that overall the smoking cessation was linked to a less cases of substance use disorders and fewer mood and/or anxiety disorders. Those participants who quit smoking between the first and second interview were less likely to have a continuing mental health disorder. Furthermore, of those who quit smoking, there was a drop in drug use disorders by 69 percent. There was a drop in alcohol use disorders by 36 percent, and there was a drop in mood or anxiety disorders by 30 percent. There was a clear significance in the relationship between smoking cessation and a reduced risk for having substance use disorders or mood/anxiety disorders.
Correlation Between Mental Illness and Nicotine
Interestingly, for some of the more severe mental illnesses, there seems to be a greater relationship with nicotine addiction. For instance, most people with schizophrenia have an addiction to nicotine. In fact, they are three times more likely to be addicted to nicotine than the rest of the general population. Because the majority of adults with schizophrenia have a nicotine addiction, researchers are exploring whether they have a biological need. Sadly, nicotine can also make antipsychotic medication less effective, which is the cause for many psychiatrists’ encouragement of their patients to quit smoking.
Of course, the fact that nicotine can make antipsychotic medication less effective is true for any mental illness which requires antipsychotic medication, such as Bipolar Disorder, or severe depression. A nicotine addiction can interfere with a mental health treatment plan. Although a recovering addict or someone recovering from a mental illness might be prone to hang onto their nicotine addiction, this research indicates that the choice to quit smoking during treatment or early sobriety can actually be healthier.
Safe Methods in Quitting Smoking
With all of this in mind, if you’re considering putting an end to your smoking, you should know that there are safe methods to quit smoking in order to make the withdrawal process less challenging. For instance, someone who is under the care of a doctor and/or a psychiatrist and who would like to wean off nicotine should be carefully observed during the withdrawal process in order to monitor whether their reaction to psychotropic medication is changing.
Of course, it might go without saying that putting an end to smoking won’t only improve your mental and physical health, but it can also improve your overall sense of well being. Feeling good both mentally and physically is a big contributor to having a positive regard for life.