Vaping Can Be Helpful For Those With Mental Health Disorders

Mental Health and Smoking 0

Recent studies have confirmed early research showing that vaping can be helpful for those with Mental Health Disorders to quit smoking.  However, It is important to look at the facts of mental health disorders in the US. This will really help you understand just how much this impacts many lives in some fashion.

It is equally important to understand that a large portion of the mentally ill is often overlooked, dismissed, or stigmatized by society. Public stigma can be so intense that many people suffering from mental health issues will hesitate to get the help they need. Consequently, mentally ill people have harder times holding down jobs and managing adult responsibility

The percentages of those who are classified as mentally ill that smoke cigarettes it is mind-blowing. Keep in mind that only 17.8% of the US population smokes, whereas 41% of mentally ill people smoke. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, mentally ill people smoke one-third of all cigarettes. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), published figures showing mental illnesses have the following rates for smoking cigarettes:

  • Panic Disorder: 56%
  • PTSD: 60%
  • Depression: 60%
  • Bipolar Disorder: 70%
  • Schizophrenia: 90%

You might need to read those statistics again and let them sink in. Rates this high cannot be a coincidence. It begs the question, can smokers switching to vaping have a less harmful experience physically? If so, this should be medically recommended by doctors.

A new vaping study suggests that by implementing a smoke-free policy in mental health institutions but allowing patients to vape instead. This study shows that physical violence can decrease by as much as 39%. The paper was published by a group of UK scientists in coordination with the South London and Maudsley (SLaM) National Health Service Foundation Trust.

Researchers implemented the policy and recorded the resulting data from 30-months prior to the transition to vaping and for 12-months thereafter.  The UK research followed several other scientific studies surrounding the topic of vaping and mental health.  An Italian paper from 2014 focuses primarily on schizophrenic patients, and an Australian study targeted “severe mental illness’ in general.

Most mental health experts seem to agree on one major point.  Patients suffering from mental health disorders are far more likely to smoke than those who do not. Understandably, their physicians know all too well how harmful smoking can be to the body, but getting their patients to quit is not easy  This is especially true when mentally challenged patients try to quit smoking. The associated symptoms of their mental disorder tend to become exacerbated when they try.

With the increased stress and anxiety that comes from quitting patients can become more easily agitated as a result. It is this agitation that can trigger the violent outbursts towards themselves, other patients, and the mental health care workers who attend to them.  This has been seen even when using more traditional nicotine replacement therapies.

The SLaM study conducted a lengthy series of tests involving thousands of patients.  The study also recorded thousands of physical assaults in the process.  The primary guidelines of the UK vaping study include the following.

  • The researchers conducted 35 different studies overall.
  • 23,972 patients were monitored throughout the course of the study.
  • 17% had previous histories of physical violence as inpatients at related mental health facilities.
  • From 2014 to 2015, the researchers recorded over 4,500 assaults just on hospital staff alone.
  • The study lasted from 30-months prior to the institutional transition to a smoke-free, vape-friendly environment to 12-months thereafter.
  • The resulting data shows a 39% reduction in physical assaults per month after the transition.
  • Only 4.9% of physical altercations resulted from withdrawal symptoms associated with quitting smoking.

The results of this most recent vaping study are extremely positive by many leaders of the scientific community. This study also affirms previous studies on this subject. If mental health specialists can help their patients to quit smoking and increase the physical safety of their healthcare staff simultaneously, it’s a win-win situation.

Experts say the link between smoking and mental illness to a number of factors. Biochemistry plays some part. “Nicotine is a very powerful drug, and that’s true whether somebody has a mental illness or not,” says Judith Prochaska, Ph.D., MPH, a psychologist at the Stanford Prevention Research Center at Stanford University.

  • In some cases, people with mental illness may be using tobacco to mask symptoms or medication side effects.
  • People with panic attacks may have a hard time quitting smoking because the symptoms of withdrawal, such as increased heart rate can trigger an attack.
  • Nicotine can improve attention and concentration, appealing benefits for some mental health patients.

However, the possible advantages of nicotine shouldn’t equate to a free pass for smoker and vaping is a great alternative for many reasons. These studies show that vaping can help reduce the harmful effects of smoking. This is especially true for those suffering from mental health issues who use smoking as a tool.

Smokers should switch to vaping who are trying to quit, they will feel less agitation and stress in the process. While this most recent study focuses on those hospitalized, these results should encourage others who live with these challenges daily to make the switch to a healthier alternative.

This is encouraging news for those who face mental illnesses who are needing to quit smoking. This is also good news for those who currently vape and face the challenges of mental illnesses.

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