Though a growing number of people are making the choice to quit smoking for a variety of reasons, physical health complications from the habit continue to be a problem of serious concern both for those who smoke and their loved ones as well as for taxpayers left with large bills to foot for associated medical issues. Most general practice doctors advise their clients to cease or significantly reduce their tobacco use, but one smoking cessation advocate notes that when it comes to those who exhibit signs of mental health concerns, many doctors shy away from suggesting that their clients should quit. Brian Hitsman of Northwestern University argues that while thirty eight percent of people visiting their medical physician receive treatment to quit smoking, a mere twelve percent of those with mental health difficulties receive the same treatment.
The discrepancy, suggests Hitsman, is the result of a false belief that tobacco use is somehow necessary or helpful for those with feelings of depression, anxiety, or any other mental health concerns. Unfortunately, this reluctance to persuade clients to quit smoking may have profound effects; on average, a far greater number of those with mental health issues smoke than those without symptoms.
Hitsman points out that people experiencing mental health difficulties may experience an increased challenge when attempting to quit smoking, but also notes that the cessation of tobacco use has not been shown to have any adverse effect on the symptoms of mental difficulties themselves. Rather, exhibiting the strength, determination, and commitment to overcome smoking may work wonders for those experiencing self-esteem issues or grappling with feelings of dependency. Far from something that should be swept under the rug, Hitsman proclaims that tobacco use among those with mental health concerns should be highlighted, addressed, and ultimately, resolved.
© Copyright 2009 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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