Smoking cessation associated with lower rates of mood/anxiety and alcohol use disorders
March 14, 2014
Rates of smoking are disproportionally high in people with psychiatric and substance use disorders. Historically, smoking has often been seen as a form of self-medication in such people, and some past research highlighted a concern that quitting smoking could increase depressive and other symptoms. However, a new study using data from the large, longitudinal National Epidemiological Study of Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC) found that quitting smoking was actually associated with lower rates of psychiatric and substance use disorders. People with a history of mood or anxiety disorders who were daily smokers at Wave 1 of the study (2001-2002) and who quit by Wave 2 (3 years later) had lower rates of recurring or persisting mood or anxiety disorders and of alcohol use disorder than those who continued smoking. Also, daily smokers without a history of psychiatric or substance use disorders and who quit by Wave 2 were at significantly decreased risk of having a drug use disorder at Wave 2. These findings suggest a revision of how smoking is seen in relation to psychiatric health. Until recently, smoking cessation has not been emphasized in treatment of people with psychiatric or substance use disorders, but the NESARC data should give encouragement to such individuals and their healthcare providers: Quitting can be expected to have positive outcomes for their mental as well as physical health.