Why Do So Many Schizophrenics Smoke?
Stubbing Out Smoking
Studies show that doctors don't warn people with schizophrenia about the hazards of smoking the way they do other patients. Yet people with schizophrenia have a 1.5 time greater risk of dying prematurely than those without the illness. Their life expectancy is reduced by 20 to 30 years compared with the general population. Smoking plays a big part in that risk. It takes a harsh toll on the body. And it's hard on the wallet, too. If you're on a tight budget, affording cigarettes may mean skimping on food or medical care.
The two main tools to help with quitting smoking are counseling and medications. Studies show that both approaches can be helpful for people with schizophrenia.
When smokers first quit, withdrawal symptoms may occur as the body gets used to life without nicotine. These symptoms—such as dizziness, anxiety, irritability, trouble sleeping, and headaches—are temporary but unpleasant. And they may be worse than average for people with schizophrenia. Medications can help people get through this tough phase. Options include nicotine products, such as patches and gum, and non-nicotine medications, such as bupropion. You and your doctor must keep an eye on your response to antipsychotic drugs during this time. Smoking often makes such drugs less effective. So as a nice side benefit, you might be able to reduce your dose of antipsychotic medication once you stop smoking. However, changing your medications should only be tried together with your prescribing doctor.
Giving up smoking isn't easy. But it is possible. If you plan to quit, ask your doctor about the best approach for you.
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