Until recently, treatment professionals addressing disorders such as anxiety, depression, and substance abuse have tended to defer treatment of nicotine addiction until after the so-called primary disorder (anxiety, depression, substance abuse) has been stabilized. The thinking was that attempting to arrest nicotine use (smoking) would distract the patient from focusing on treatment of the more immediate problem of depression, anxiety, or substance abuse. In a study summarized inScienceDailyon February 11, 2014, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have concluded that “ ***that quitting or significantly cutting back on cigarette smoking was linked to improved mental health outcomes. Quitting altogether or reducing by half the number of cigarettes smoked daily was associated with lower risk for mood disorders like depression, as well as a lower likelihood of alcohol and drug problems.”
The lead researcher of the study “***believes the serious health risks associated with smoking make it important for doctors to work with their patients to quit, regardless of other psychiatric problems."
"About half of all smokers die from emphysema, cancer or other problems related to smoking, so we need to remember that as complicated as it can be to treat mental health issues, smoking cigarettes also causes very serious illnesses that can lead to death. *** We really need to spread the word and encourage doctors and patients to tackle these problems. When a patient is ready to focus on other mental health issues, it may be an ideal time to address smoking cessation, too."
There is abundant research that the benefits of smoking cessation not only result in improved mental health, as suggested in the study under discussion here, but also in almost immediate reduction of adverse effects associated with smoking, such as some forms of cardiovascular disease. So, this study perhaps removes an excuse recovering addicts or alcoholics may use to delay looking at addressing a serious, life-threatening addiction, namely, smoking.
As always, comments are invited. Jan Edward Williams,www.alcoholdrugsos.com, 03/03/2014.