You’re healthier without tobacco’s influence

Tobacco takes a huge toll on people with behavioral health conditions, such as depression, anxiety and ADHD. These individuals are more likely to smoke — and smoke more heavily— than people who do not have mental health conditions. But quitting can make significant and even lifelong improvements in a person’s mental and overall health.

More Harm than Help

Millions of people living with mental and behavioral health conditions see tobacco as a tool to help deal with stress, anxiety or depression. But smoking and vaping do nothing to provide real relief from these types of symptoms. In fact, tobacco use increases these feelings and makes them harder to manage and treat.

Getting free from nicotine addiction helps reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety and other mental health symptoms.

Quitting tobacco also makes it easier to quit other substances and increases the chances for long-term sobriety.

Once someone stops using tobacco, they start becoming healthier physically and mentally.

Nicotine's Smokescreen

Many people turn to cigarettes or e-cigarettes to deal with stress, anxiety or tension. And nicotine might help in the short term. But after those initial effects, nicotine cravings return and increase feelings of stress and anxiety.

That is how nicotine is designed to work: make you feel better briefly, then let you down so your cravings return, making you want to smoke again and again. That’s why tobacco companies add nicotine to cigarettes and other products.

It is common to feel irritated or upset, restless, distracted, anxious or depressed. But using nicotine to deal with those feelings results in them getting worse over time. Tobacco can also interfere with some medications taken by people with behavioral health conditions, preventing them from getting the full, positive effects of treatment.

E-cigarettes: An unsafe alternative to smoking

Today, many teens and young adults are turning to e-cigarettes to cope with stress, anxiety or depression. In fact, four out of five teens who vape said they started because of their mental health struggles.

But e-cigarettes aren’t a safe option. Just like cigarettes, most vape products contain nicotine, a highly addictive substance, as well as other substances that are harmful to health. Nicotine can also permanently affect teens’ brain development, causing them to have shorter attention spans and increased impulsivity, depression and anxiety in adulthood.

 

Instead of vaping to deal with your symptoms, try practical stress-release tips that don’t involve tobacco from Enough With the Puff.

Big Tobacco's Deceptive Tactics

For decades, the tobacco industry has used deceptive tactics to hook people who have behavioral health conditions or are receiving treatment for substance use disorders.

Big Tobacco funded research that claimed people living with schizophrenia couldn’t develop lung cancer (they can and do), and that cigarettes help many behavioral health conditions. The tobacco industry also fought smoke-free policies in psychiatric hospitals and made many people even more reliant on tobacco by donating cigarettes to psychiatric treatment facilities.

As a result of these deceptive tactics, about 40 percent of cigarettes are consumed by people with behavioral health conditions, while as many as 85 percent of people with schizophrenia smoke. These addictive habits can have serious effects on the health of people living with behavioral health conditions. In fact, the most common causes of death for people with behavioral health conditions are heart disease, cancer and lung disease — all of which can be caused by smoking.

Nicotine contributes to more illness and early death than any other drug, legal or illegal. And people with behavioral health conditions are harmed by it more than any other group.

Get Real Support

If you’re a person living with a mental health condition, you can break tobacco’s influence on your life. And you don’t have to do it alone. People who get help are much more likely to quit and stay quit than those who try to quit on their own.

That help could include outside support from family or friends, trained quit coaches, or using quit medications.

The Colorado QuitLine can help you come up with a plan to quit and provide you with coaching and medications for free.

Some tobacco cessation products could interact with other medications. Make sure to talk with your health care provider before using a new medication to help you stop smoking, and talk with a quit coach about any of your concerns.

If you don’t have a health care provider and need help with a behavioral health condition, the Colorado Behavioral Health Administration can help you find treatment.