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Tobacco Cessation for Smokers with Mental Illness or Substance Use Disorders

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People with mental illness and substance use disorders want to quit smoking and can quit successfully.  And mental health professionals can help. 

Until a few years ago, it was not common for people with mental illness or substance use disorders to be treated for their tobacco dependence. People with behavioral health conditions have only recently been identified by tobacco control and cessation professionals as a priority, even though their smoking rates are 2-4 times higher than in the general population (Lasser et al., 2000).

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The 2006 Morbidity and Mortality in People with Serious Mental Illness report issued by the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors, found that persons with serious mental illness die, on average, 25 years earlier and suffer increased medical co-morbidity.  They often die from tobacco related diseases and are more likely to die from these diseases than from alcohol use.

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The need to help this clientele quit tobacco is clear.  Some strongly held myths have stood in the way of progress in this area.  Fortunately, a growing body of research is debunking these myths, making way for new interventions. 

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The California Smokers’ Helpline has developed the following free resources to help you learn more about smokers with mental illness and substance use disorders and how to help them:

  • Fact Sheet: Tobacco Cessation for Smokers with Mental Illness or Substance Use Disorders.
  • Slide Presentation: Tobacco Cessation and Behavioral Health
  • Online CE Training: Tobacco Cessation and Behavioral Health. Continuing education credits available to physicians, nurses, physician assistants, MFTs, LCSWs, and NAADAC certified counselors.

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Click here to download these valuable resources now!