People state various reasons for smoking. A few examples are;
- They may say they enjoy it
- Some say because their family and parents smoked
- Others say it helps deal with stress
- Some say it helps with anxiety
- Others say they just do it to pass the time
Quitting smoking is one of the best things a person can do to improve their health, finances and general wellbeing!
Smoking doesn’t only affect a person’s health; it affects their mental health, their personal life and the health of people around them.
One in two long term smokers are likely to die because of smoking.
A quarter of these deaths will be before the age of 65.
Smoking not only affects the health of the smoker; it also affects the health of those around them including babies and children.
Smoking can also contribute to mental health problems such as depression and anxiety.
People who give up smoking feel less stress and anxiety in the long term.
Smoking also makes you less fit, causes wheezing and coughing, gives you poor skin and bad teeth and makes your breath, hair and clothes all smell.
Personality Disorders and Cigarette Smoking
There has been growing interest in the co-occurrence of mental disorders and substance use disorders.
Studies indicate a substantial percentage of those with personality disorders are nicotine dependent.
There also is evidence that specific personality disorder traits or symptoms are associated with nicotine dependence among adults. For example, schizotypal and borderline personality traits were associated with greater tobacco use. It remains unclear the extent to which personality disorders are associated with cigarette smoking in a representative sample of adults. Thus, there is an absence of general data relating to the degree of co-occurrence between personality disorders and cigarette use among adults.
It is possible that nicotine dependence may be particularly elevated among cigarette smokers with personality disorders.
Bipolar disorder and cigarette smoking
There is increasing evidence that smoking is a risk factor for severe mental illness, including bipolar disorder. Conversely, patients with bipolar disorder might smoke and more as a result of the psychiatric disorder.
There is an increasing disparity in the prevalence of cigarette smoking between the general population and people with severe mental illness such as bipolar disorder.
A meta-analysis including worldwide studies showed that smoking rates are much higher in people with bipolar disorder than in the general population.
The importance with this is since in people with bipolar disorder smoking is associated with negative physical and mental health outcomes compared with non-smoking.
Schizophrenia and cigarette smoking
Thanks to research advances, scientists are learning how and why smoking and schizophrenia are so tightly linked. Nicotine in cigarettes and other forms appear to help normalize some of the cognitive and sensory deficits that people with this disorder experience.
Scientists have found that smoking and schizophrenia are tightly linked, but are not sure why. Could nicotine actually be helping the disorder? If so, then it is a double-edged sword, because smoking is a life-threatening behaviour.
Many people with schizophrenia smoke, and their unique smoking behaviours have led scientists to believe that nicotine, the addicting substance in tobacco, may represent a form of self-medication, normalizing some central nervous system deficits involved in the disorder.
People with schizophrenia smoke up to three times more than the general population and more than most psychiatric populations. Schizophrenia patients who smoke also have higher levels of nicotine in their bodies because they tend to extract more nicotine per cigarette than other smokers.
Cognitive ability in people with schizophrenia may get a boost from nicotine, including temporary enhancements in learning, memory, processing speed, and attention.
Depression and smoking
Adults with depression are twice as likely to smoke as adults without depression. Most people start to smoke before showing signs of depression, so it’s unclear whether smoking leads to depression or depression encourages people to start smoking. It’s most likely that there is a complex relationship between the two.
Nicotine stimulates the release of the chemical dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is involved in triggering positive feelings. It is often found to be low in people with depression, who may then use cigarettes as a way of temporarily increasing their dopamine supply. However, smoking encourages the brain to switch off its own mechanism for making dopamine so in the long term the supply decreases, which in turn prompts people to smoke more.
People with depression can have particular difficulty when attempting to quit smoking and have more severe withdrawal symptoms.
Anxiety and cigarette smoking
Many people suffer from anxiety and rely on habits which seem to make them feel less anxious, but in the long run, they are doing more harm than good. Smoking falls into this category. In fact, some reports suggest that smokers are also more likely to develop depression over time than non-smokers.
When a person smokes a cigarette, the nicotine only takes 10 seconds to reach the brain, creating an instant feeling of pleasure, relaxation, and even suppresses the appetite. This is because nicotine causes a release of dopamine within the brain. This particular feeling is very addictive, especially among people who are naturally anxious and find it difficult to relax.
Most of the time, a smoker will continue to smoke in order to avoid the nicotine withdrawal from tobacco.
It is evident from all these findings that quitting smoking will be even more beneficial for these categories of people, more so than normal smokers but everyone will undoubtedly benefit from quitting smoking.
Vaping offers an alternative to smoking and the benefits have been shown in other posts.
In my opinion we should be doing more to help people quit, especially the more vulnerable as stated above.
Also we’ve shown in previous posts the increased success rate of vaping versus conventional ways to quit kick the habit. It won’t be for everyone but I view it as a stepping-stone to ultimately quit for good. If not it still gives you the feeling of smoking, satisfies your cravings for nicotine without all the harmful ingredients found in cigarettes.