People with mental health and substance use conditions have been exploited by the tobacco industry and smoke at much higher rates than the general population. When it comes to quitting smoking, some common myths about mental health and quitting tobacco could be standing in the way.

To bust these myths, we turned to the experts who run BecomeAnEX, a digital quit-smoking program hosted by Truth Initiative®.

Myth: Smokers with mental health conditions don’t want to stop smoking.

Do smokers with mental health conditions want to quit smoking?

Smokers with mental health conditions want to quit as much as any other group of smokers. Most have tried to quit in the past, and more than half of them are thinking about quitting within six months.

Myth: Smokers with mental health conditions can’t quit smoking.

Is it hard for smokers with mental health conditions to quit?

Many people with mental health conditions also have other life challenges that make it harder to quit smoking. These may include: more friends who smoke, fewer resources available and stronger dependence on cigarettes. Additionally, research shows that health care providers who treat patients with mental health conditions do not talk about or treat smoking as often as other health care providers. While additional challenges may exist for people with mental health conditions, they can quit with the right support and treatment.

Myth: Quitting smoking can make mental health condition symptoms worse.

Will quitting smoking make mental health conditions worse?

For people who experience depression, anxiety or stress, quitting smoking can make them feel better! Studies even show that quitting smoking does not make symptoms any worse for people with schizophrenia.

Smokers who are trying to quit might feel irritable or restless, have trouble sleeping or concentrating, or feel anxious, depressed or hungry. In most cases, these are symptoms of nicotine withdrawal, and not mental health conditions getting worse. These feelings usually go away in a few days.

If you are planning to quit smoking, it is always a good idea to speak with a health care provider, especially if you have a serious mental health condition or are considering medication to help you quit.

For more information about quitting smoking with a mental health condition, visit BecomeAnEX. You can also learn more about how the tobacco industry has exploited people with mental health issues by reading about why tobacco is a social justice issue.

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