- 32.6% of individuals living with a mental illness smoke cigarettes compared to 20.7% of the general population.
- Individuals living with mental illnesses are more likely to smoke larger quantities and smoke more frequently than the general population.
- Each year thousands of nonsmokers die from heart disease, cancer, and lung diseases caused by secondhand smoke.
- Health care providers often believe individuals living with a mental illness need to smoke to help with symptoms of their mental illness, but in reality smoking often makes these symptoms worse. Withdrawal symptoms also often mirror symptoms of mental illnesses such as anxiety and insomnia.
- When supported with counseling and medications, studies have found people living with a mental illness are able to quit at the same rates as anyone else.
- The most effective way to quit smoking is through using a medication. With the support of a healthcare provider, individuals may combine multiple medications to help them quit or reduce the number of cigarettes they smoke.
Source: NAMI MN Smoking and Mental Illness Fact sheet
Keys to Success
- Start the conversation
Educate yourself on the reasons your loved one might smoke then pick the right time to mention your concern and ask if they’ve considered quitting. Remember to listen more than you talk and make it clear that you are there for support. For more tips on talking to a loved one about quitting, and resources for smoking cessation, visit the Quitter’s Circle.
Research shows that practicing mindfulness meditation over just a couple of weeks can reduce smoking by more than half. Even a few minutes of meditation each day has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety. More information and mindfulness meditation audio files can be found at Free Mindfulness Project.
Research shows that using exercise to cope reduces cravings and stress and also increases the likelihood of quitting. Exercising changes your body in ways that can help you quit smoking, including boosting feel-good brain chemicals and lowering stress hormones. You can find more information about the study here and find tips on starting an exercise program here.
- Take a class
NAMI Minnesota has published a number of fact sheets on smoking cessation.