Current estimates show that nearly 1.1% of the global population or approximately 51 million people suffer from bipolar disorder, and nearly two-thirds of these patients smoke tobacco cigarettes. However, quitting smoking for those suffering from severe mental disorders is usually far more challenging. The increased stress and anxiety levels tend to exacerbate the symptoms associated to their related mood disorders, symptoms that can include periods of extreme euphoria immediately followed by periods of deep, debilitating depression and suicidal thoughts.
Doctors specializing in bipolar disorder have spent years searching for a better, more effective way to assist bipolar patients to quit smoking but with little success. Conventional nicotine replacement therapies do not always work because they do little to address the psychological addiction that smoking entails. The mental addiction of holding a cigarette to the lips is often the most challenging to overcome even for the average, non-bipolar smoker.
Scientists prefer vaping for bipolar patients
Fortunately, a new study recently released by the Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry suggests that vaping might be the perfect solution to a decades old problem. Co-authors Ratika Sharma, Coral E Gartner, David J Castle, and Colin P Mendelsohn begin their report by referencing research previously published in 2016 by the Royal College of Physicians in Great Britain that claims vaping is up to 95% safer and healthier than smoking.
The team of scientists further discuss common substitution therapies used by addiction specialists throughout the world when counseling patients addicted to opiates and other life-threatening chemicals. By substituting another “addiction” that is far less hazardous to the patient’s health, the recovering addicts can gradually wean themselves off of the more deadly chemical which gives them more time and mental clarity to address the underlying causes of the addiction.
For decades, those in the very early stages of recovery from alcoholism were often encouraged by their counselors to light up a cigarette or eat a handful of candy whenever their cravings for an alcoholic beverage presented themselves. The new study by the Australian and New Zeland scientists uses this same analogy when discussing the benefits of vaping when overcoming smoking addiction in bipolar patients.
“Smokers with SMI who are unable to quit smoking could benefit from long-term substitution of combustible tobacco with ‘clean’ nicotine product such as e-cigarettes (tobacco harm reduction). E-cigarettes deliver the nicotine to which smokers are addicted without the products of combustion that cause almost all the adverse health effects of smoking (Royal College of Physicians [RCP], 2016). E-cigarette vapour contains low levels of toxins, but the Royal College of Physicians estimates the long-term risk from e-cigarette use (vaping) as likely to be no more than 5% of smoking tobacco (RCP, 2016). Similar harm reduction strategies are widely used for other harmful behaviours, such as the opiate substitution therapy and clean needle exchange to reduce risks from intravenous opiate use.”
The team of researchers also go on to state that switching to vaping from smoking also helps to close the social and financial gaps often experienced by bipolar patients and others suffering from severe mental disorders. They also reference the Smoking Toolkit Study published in the UK which states that e-cigs are now the most popular and most effective method to quit smoking in England.
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