Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Study shows link between smoking and mental illness

From the Tuscaloosa News in Alabama:

People with mental illnesses are two to three times higher than the general population to be dependent on nicotine, research has shown.

The Alabama Department of Mental Health wants to reduce that percentage, starting with in-patient facilities like Bryce. Effective Jan. 4, the state will ban smoking on all inpatient psychiatric facilities and grounds as part of a new tobacco-free initiative.

“People with a mental illness tend to live 25 years or less than the average citizen,” said ADMH spokesperson John Ziegler. “The main reason for that is not the mental illness, it's the unhealthy lifestyle choices.”

A large percentage of patients who are committed to Bryce Hospital smoke, said Ziegler. According to a 2004 study from the Archives of General Psychiatry, people who smoke often score high on the neuroticism and anxiety scales and may use tobacco to manage their mood, anxiety, stress, anger, social dependence, insecurity or other emotional states.

Smoking also leads to other chronic health problems.

“Our goal is to return 25 years of life to the people we serve,” said John Houston, Commissioner of the ADMH. “Since smoking remains a leading preventable cause of death in the United States, ADMH feels it is essential to take this step toward providing better health and a better quality of life to the community it serves.”

Patients will be provided nicotine management services while being care for by the ADMH. Those services include everything from counseling and group support meetings to anti-nicotine medication, Ziegler said.