September is National Recovery Month, sponsored annually by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) to raise awareness and understanding of mental health and substance use issues and congratulates those who recover. According to experts from Meta House, Recovery Month is also a good time to discuss the damaging relationship between tobacco-use, mental health issues, and substance abuse.
“Recent studies have shown that if a woman quits smoking at the same time she stops using alcohol and other drugs, her likelihood of achieving a long-term recovery increases by 25%” said Christine Ullstrup, VP of Clinical Services at Meta House. Meta House’s RN, Amy Weisbrot, mentions, “Decades of research have proven the ill effects of tobacco smoke on one’s health as well as the dangers second- and third-hand smoke on an individual’s family. The impacts can be, and often are, devastating – resulting in asthma, lung cancer, emphysema and chronic lower respiratory infections, among other health conditions.”
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services also reports that 29% of adults in the state diagnosed with depression currently smoke, compared to 18% of the general Wisconsin population.
“The smoking rate is higher, and health risks greater for those who suffer from mental health issues and are also living in poverty,” said Edgar Mendez, program coordinator for the Wisconsin Tobacco Prevention and Poverty Network.
Wisconsin is doing its part to help these individuals quit for good through the groundbreaking WiNTiP (Wisconsin Nicotine Treatment Integration Project), which encourages mental health and substance abuse centers to include tobacco cessation in their care plans.
National research from Washington University School of Medicine found that smoking cessation doesn’t interfere with recovery and findings from the U.S. Surgeon General’s Report suggest that cessation treatments are also effective for individuals with mental health. Cessation during treatment has also proven to benefit the health of the families of those in treatment and youth.
“Our campus went smoke free in 2012. Since that time, not a single child living in our residential treatment program has been diagnosed with asthma. We’ve also seen a dramatic decrease in the number of related doctor’s visits. These outcomes tell us a lot about the health implications that removing the dangers of first-, second- and third-hand smoke from our environment can have for our community at large” said Ullstrup.
For more on the WiNTiP Program, visit www.helpusquit.org, and for more on tobacco prevention and control efforts in the City of Milwaukee visit www.city.milwaukee.gov.
Tobacco users that are ready to quit can receive free help and medications from the Wisconsin Tobacco Quit Line by calling 1-800-QUIT NOW.