START SMOKING CLASSES FORMING SOON. It is never too late to start!

Okay, not everyone should smoke. It isn't good for your lungs, that's for sure. However, if you have a brain based disorder (mental illness),  be it the result of genetics or injury, smoking is one of the best patient administered treatments available for increasing healthy brain functioning.  A recent Yale University study confirmed:

Persons with mental health issues smoke two to three times more than smokers without mental health issues. When study subjects stopped smoking, attention and short–term memory were more impaired. When they started smoking again, their cognitive function improved. Nicotine increases alertness, and this may enhance concentration, thinking and learning.

Bottom line: nicotine can be of significant value to people with mental health issues or brain based disorders, or individuals whose medication leads to cognitive problems.

* Nicotine can help relaxation, and it can also reduce negative feelings such as anxiety, tension and anger. So smoking may help people with mental illness deal with stressful situations.

* Nicotine might have an antidepressant effect. Nicotine stimulates dopamine production in part of the brain and so may help negative symptoms of schizophrenia, such as lack of motivation, lack of energy and flat mood.

* Nicotine may reduce hallucinations for a short period.

* There is some evidence to suggest that smoking is associated with reduced levels of antipsychotic induced Parkinsonism.

* Smoking can help to relieve boredom and provide a framework for the day.

* Smoking can improve social interaction, something that may be of particular benefit to people with negative symptoms improved. No effects from stopping or resuming smoking were observed in smokers without mental illness.

As you can imagine, the well-intentioned efforts to curtail smoking have become a patient’s rights issue for people with certain brain based illnesses or conditions, especially in facilities where NO SMOKING is mandated by State or Federal law.   In their zeal to "protect people" from the dangers of smoking, anti-tobacco enthusiasts are making lives worse for those millions of people whose  lives are made better by sitting back, lighting up, and enjoying the fine flavor of fine tobaccos.

4 Responses to “START SMOKING CLASSES FORMING SOON. It is never too late to start!”

  1. niece

    Burl you fail to mention this part of the study….”The question still remains whether nicotine can improve VSWM in non-smoking schizophrenic patients, who, based on our results have even worse spatial working memory function compared to smoking schizophrenics,” George added. “Proving this may be difficult due to ethical concerns about giving nicotine to non-smokers, given its addictive properties.”It is well known among researchers that patients with schizophrenia have high rates of cigarette smoking compared to the general population. Past animal studies have shown that nicotine has complex effects on spatial working memory, with most showing that nicotine improves it. George said schizophrenic patients might be smoking as a form of self-medication to alleviate cognitive dysfunction linked to low activity of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the prefrontal cortex (PFC), a part of the brain that is known to be abnormal in schizophrenics and may in part mediate performance on spatial working memory tasks. Since nicotine is known to increase dopamine levels in the PFC, cigarette smoking may normalize PFC dopamine levels, and improve spatial working memory deficits in these patients.
    Smoking can still harm patients with schizophrenia so please be responsible when you give information and don’t make it into a smoker’s rights issue. Thanks

  2. Burl Barer

    Thank you so much for bringing to my attention that my post here was incomplete. I had lifted it from a longer piece I wrote on this topic for a book on schizophenia compiled and forthcoming from Thomas D. Hodgins. The points you make, plus additional info, were in there, but not here. The new “electric cigarettes” which contain no tar or carcinogins may be usefull.


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