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Scientists say vaping helps patients with bipolar disorder, opiate addiction

While the health benefits of vaping are often the center of public debate, scientists are now suggesting that e-cigs can be useful in the treatment of bipolar disorder, opioid addiction, and other mental illnesses.  Currently, nearly 1.1% of the global population suffers from bipolar disorder, and even President Trump has alluded to opioid addiction as a national emergency.  Meanwhile the new FDA Chief Scott Gottlieb often states that the federal government should follow the science rather than unsubstantiated conspiracy theories regarding the future of vaping in America.

Of the nearly 51 million people diagnosed with bipolar disorder, scientists estimate that nearly two-thirds smoke tobacco cigarettes.  Their mental condition already leaves them highly susceptible to drastic mood swings and the potential to engage in risky behaviors.   Quitting smoking the old-fashioned way, the cold turkey method, tends to only exacerbate these symptoms. 

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So, doctors are forced to choose between the lesser of two evils.  Should they recommend to their patients to quit smoking and deal with the increased mood swings fluctuating between bouts of extreme euphoria and raging agitation?  Or should they recommend the continuation of smoking tobacco cigarettes and risk possible future diagnoses of cancer, emphysema, and other associated threats?  Vaping may be the perfect alternative to this Catch-22 dilemma.

New study: Vaping offers new hope for bipolar and opiate-addicted patients

A recent study published by a co-authors Ratika Sharma, David J Castle, Coral E Gartner, and Colin P Mendelsohn seemingly offers new hope to both doctors and patients dealing with severe mental illness and addictions.  Entitled Should we encourage smokers with severe mental illness to switch to electronic cigarettes, the study is published in the Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry.

The research builds upon another famous vape study from the UK Royal College of Physicians which claims that vaping is up to 95 percent less harmful than smoking.   Addiction specialists have always used substitution therapies in the treatment of everything from alcoholism to cocaine abuse.  By substituting one less-deadly addiction for another, the patients gradually wean themselves off the more toxic drug. 

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For example, when even the average smoker tries to quit cold turkey, they often beginning reaching for candies and cookies to satisfy the oral fixation associated with smoking.  When alcoholics first quit drinking, they often become more heavily dependent on smoking.  But if vaping is 95 percent healthier as the UK research suggests, doesn’t it make sense to substitute vaping for traditional cigarettes in almost all cases of mental addiction?

According to the new Aussie research, e-cigs can and do help the mentally challenged satisfy their cravings for smoking without increasing their associate symptoms. 

“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.”

Meanwhile, another scientific study from a UK research team shows that vaping also seems to reduce violent behaviors in patients with mental illnesses who try to quit smoking.  In the study entitled Effect of implementation of a smoke-free policy on physical violence in a psychiatric inpatient setting: an interrupted time series analysis published in The Lancet Psychiatry,  research shows a 39 percent reduction per month in physical assaults against mental healthcare workers in a study involving nearly 26,000 patients. 

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