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Monday, January 19, 2009

Schizophrenia and Nicotine

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Annually 440,000 Americans die from tobacco-related illness. Cigarette smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States. Smoking is frowned upon because it is addictive and can lead to cancer, heart disease, stroke, and osteoporosis; and many other health issues.

People living with schizophrenia smoke three times more than the general population, (75 to 90 percent vs. 25 to 30 percent). Higher rates of smoking is also prevalent among people with bipolar disorder and depression compared to people without brain disorders. People with schizophrenia who smoke often need higher doses of medication. Furthermore, psychotic symptoms worsen when a person either stops smoking or initiates smoking; it is recommended that doctors monitor patients who begin smoking or who stop smoking.

Although nicotine is addictive it does have some benefits...In the past people smoked to alleviate stiffness and muscle movements caused by older antipsychotic drugs. Moreover, it helps cognitive functions such as short-term memory, attention span, and alertness.
What are your thoughts on this topic?
This post was inspired by Anonymous Drifter, you can visit her blog, "Disjointed Thoughts" at:



Sal said...

As a smoker of almost 40 years it wouldn't be fair for me to comment much, but I know it relaxes me. I have tried to stop many times ( other folks pressure. If truth be known, I never wanted to stop myself ), once I stopped for 11 months.I wanted one as much then as I did when I was smoking regularly, so those who say you get over the withdrawals are wrong. Dont get me wrong, I wish I hadnt started ( because of the expense, not because I dislike it ). I am a happy smoker, and plan to continue to be so. Thanks for visiting my blog! Take care.

La Pixie said...

I think, that since for most people it is harmful, smoking is bad. the reason that it relaxes people is because they are addicted. so... doesnt crack relax crack addicts? and "makes them feel good"? but no one would say that crack might be okay... right?

VJ Sleight, Queen of Quitting said...

I think that many individuals smoke to get nicotine to self-medicate. It's not the nicotine that is causing the health problems but the other chemicals in smoke. I believe that individuals with schizophrenia may be helped by using nicotine replacement products (NRP) instead of smoking (such as the nicotine inhaler). And it may be that these individuals need to use the NRP for the rest of their lives but that would greatly reduce the health consequences from smoking. For free quitting tips visit:
VJ Sleight, Queen of Quitting, a former smoker, cancer thrivor and Tobacco Treatment Specialist