509th MDG commentary: Tobacco and mental illness

  • Published
  • By Alicia Ferris-Dannenberg, Registered Nurse
  • 509th Medical Group

People living with mental illness have a high rate of smoking. In America, 44.3% of all cigarettes are consumed by individuals who live with mental illness and/or substance abuse disorders. People with schizophrenia are three to four times as likely to smoke as the general population.

Smoking is known to cause heart disease, stroke and lung disease, among other medical problems. Second-generation atypical antipsychotic medications (SGAs) cause an increased risk of heart disease, so it’s important that individuals living with mental illness quit smoking.

Every year, smoking kills about 200,000 people who live with mental illness. Also, smoking increases the breakdown of medicines in the body, so smokers often need to take higher doses to get the same results as someone who does not smoke.

If a smoker quits, they can usually get the same treatment results from lower doses of psychiatric medications.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness believes that people with mental illness have the right to be smoke free and they must be given the education and support to make healthy choices. Effective prevention and treatment should be part of effective mental health care treatment.

If a hospital has a smoking policy, it must take steps to help stop smoking and provide smoking cessation treatment. This treatment should continue when the person returns to the community.

Currently 509 MDG is offering a Nicotine Intervention Program.  This is a four class program.  Class dates/times are:  2 July 2:30-4:30 pm, 9 July 3:00-4:30 pm, 16 July 3:00-4:30 pm, and 30 July 3:00-4:30 pm.  This program is located in the B2 Conference Room in the MDG clinic basement.  Please contact Health Promotion at 687-1199 to enroll or to inquire. 

Retrieved from https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-Public-Policy/ Tobacco-and-Smoking