By David Joel Miller
Mentally ill and substance abusers are major consumers of tobacco products.
Those with a mental or emotional health problem continue to be major consumers of tobacco products.
A recent government study reported that 40% of those with a mental illness smoke cigarettes.
This is almost double the rate of smoking among the general public.
There was a time when the rate of smoking among those with a DSM diagnosis, that is either substance abuse or mental illness was reported as topping 50%. While this most recent study suggests a slight decrease in smoking by the mental ill their rate of tobacco consumption continues to be far above that of other Americans. This decline however slight may well reflect a change in attitude among providers of services to the mentally ill.
We have discovered that having a mental illness can reduce your life expectancy by twenty years or more. On average those with a mental illness live shorter lives than those without similar challenges. Despite the existence of treatment that significantly reduce the impact of having a mental illness we continue to have long-term health problems associated with having developed a mental illness.
In the past many professionals took the position that with all the challenges the mentally ill had why were we trying them to get them to give up smoking or other things they found pleasurable even if those practices were impairing their health. The attitude of professionals is changing.
Recovery includes not only recover from their mental illness or substance abuse problem but from other unhealthy lifestyle choices. It is not the role off professionals to decide for our clients how they will live. Sometimes they make unhealthy choices. But they deserve the same care and advice about the dangers of unhealthy practices that other people receive. Long term effects of substance abuse can increase mental health symptoms while impairing health.
Some things, like smoking cigarettes and abusing street drugs are so high risk any recovering person should consider giving them up. Recovery is not just about giving things up. It should also include positive steps to improve health and activity. Putting away the cigarettes may be a start on your efforts to create a new healthier and happier you.
Till next time, David Miller, LMFT, LPCC
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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books
- Why we need to talk about mental illness, drugs and alcohol in combination (counselorssoapbox.com)
- Mental illness and substance abuse only strikes certain zip codes (counselorssoapbox.com)
- Do the mentally ill go to jail? Should they? (counselorssoapbox.com)
- 25 Percent of U.S. Population is Mentally Ill, 40 Percent of this Population Smokes Cigarettes (scienceworldreport.com)