A group of mental health specialists has released new research indicating that vaping can be highly beneficial in helping patients with severe mental illnesses improve their overall quality of life. The coauthors consist of a collaborative team of experts from Australia and New Zealand, two nations with strict anti-vaping laws already in place. A primary objective of the new study is to encourage public health officials to change their public stance on the legality of e-cig usage.
According to current statistics, approximately 61 percent of patients suffering from bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and other severe mental and emotional disorders are also addicted to smoking. Quitting the old-fashioned way via the cold turkey method often produces increased levels of emotional distress in the patient, which only further exacerbates their related mental health symptoms.
Meanwhile, conventional NRTs like “the patch” and nicotine gums do not always prove reliable, even among smokers without mental health issues. As a result, mental health specialists have struggled for decades with one important question. Should they allow their patients to keep smoking, or should they encourage them to quit?
Overview of the new vaping research
Published in March of 2017 on the Sage Journals website via the Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry., the paper is entitled Should we encourage smokers with severe mental illness to switch to electronic cigarettes? After supervising and monitoring hundreds of patients through a transition from smoking to vaping, the scientists conclude that e-cigs are an effective tobacco harm reduction tool while also limiting the potential increases of emotional distress in the patient. Therefore, federal governments should encourage rather than demonize their use for patients with severe mental illness.
“Smokers with SMI who are unable to quit smoking could benefit from long-term substitution of combustible tobacco with ‘clean’ nicotine product such as e-cigarettes (tobacco harm reduction). E-cigarettes deliver the nicotine to which smokers are addicted without the products of combustion that cause almost all the adverse health effects of smoking (Royal College of Physicians [RCP], 2016). E-cigarette vapour contains low levels of toxins, but the Royal College of Physicians estimates the long-term risk from e-cigarette use (vaping) as likely to be no more than 5% of smoking tobacco (RCP, 2016). Similar harm reduction strategies are widely used for other harmful behaviours, such as the opiate substitution therapy and clean needle exchange to reduce risks from intravenous opiate use.”
The Australia/New Zealand research is further supported by an American mental healthcare specialist by the name of Dr. Terry Sellers from Orem, Utah. In an Op-Ed in the Salt Lake Tribune, Dr. Sellers even recommends that addicts in the early stages of recovery from drugs and alcohol be allowed to use vaping devices indoors of treatment facilities to jump start and expediate their progress. He also states, “Given the choice between cigarettes and e-vapor products, the choice is very clear — e-vapor products are a worthwhile alternative.”