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Want to Quit?

This blog is not about promoting smoking.  Just about not forcing people to quit.

Let’s be honest, if you care about your health then quitting is one of the best things you can do for yourself, so have a go!

This page lists some issues to be aware of if you want to quit smoking and also have mental health issues. Please be aware I’m not a doctor and this advice is just from my personal experience and research.

Psychiatric Medications Impact.
We are often not told that stopping or starting smoking while taking psychiatric medications can cause potentially serious side effects. Smoking (or stopping smoking) can change the way our bodies metabolise these medications - meaning that you could end up on too high or low a dose.

If you take any of the medications listed below and you quit smoking (or you start smoking), make sure you speak to your doctor about adjusting your medication levels.

  • Thiothixine (Navane)
  • Fluphenazine (Modecate)
  • Clozapine (Clozaril)
  • Olanzapine (Zyprexa)
  • Fluvoxamine (Luvox)
  • Chlorpromazine (Thorazine)
  • Alprazolam (Xanax)
  • Haloperidol (Haldo, Serenacel)
  • Tricyclic Antidepressants: nortriptyline (Allegron), clomipramine (Anafranil), dothiepin (Prothiaden, Dothep), imipramine (Tofranil), or amitriptyline (Tryptanol, Endep)

Other medications may also be affected. If you are not sure, ask your doctor.

Consider your Mental Health.
Quitting smoking can increase symptoms of many types of mental health issues, including voices and unusual experiences and thoughts, depression and anxiety – so my advice is to choose a time to quit when you feel at your best, not when you are struggling.  

Different chemicals in cigarettes (not just nicotine) can affect the dopamine receptors in your brain, potentially causing an increase in symptoms or distress.  This doesn't mean you can't quit - but being aware of these risks will help you to be more prepared.  Be really kind to yourself and be sure to get lots of support.

Get Counselling and Help.
One of the most important factors in quitting successfully is to get support from others. Visit the Quit website for info on support they offer (they have some great strategies to try), or talk to your GP to get a referral to a counsellor. 

You can also search for a psychologist yourself on the APS website. Your friends and family can also provide really important support and encouragement. 

Use Resources that Help.
Many people find that Nicotine Replacement Therapies (NRT) - like patches, inhalers, gum or lozenges - can really help.  Your pharmacist or GP can give you advice about these.  I have found one study that suggests that people with anxiety do not get the same benfits from NRT as other people, so don't be hard on yourself if NRT doesn't make a big difference (sometimes even a little difference can be good).

If you find that smoking helps you to cope with mental health issues or psychiatric medication side effects, be aware that using NRT products only replaces the nicotine - not all the other chemicals in cigarettes which can affect how we feel.

The QUIT website also has tools available, including diaries, technique cards, and more.

Educate yourself
Read this blog and the sites I’ve referenced.  Talk to your doctor/s and friends.  The more you arm yourself with information, the better prepared you will be to quit!

Finally, have a read of this report on guidelines for quitting smoking if you're diagnosed with schizophrenia (I think it's useful for all mental health issues). 

Good luck!

PS:  Most people aren't successful the first or even second time they quit.  So don't worry too much if it doesn't work.  Just set another date when you are ready and try again. When you are ready and the time is right, you will  be successful.

The information on this site is presented for the purpose of disseminating information and opinions  free of charge for the benefit of the public.  It is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

While I have exercised due care in ensuring the accuracy of the material on this site, please note that it is made available on the basis that I am not providing professional advice, and indeed some of the information is my own personal opinion.


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