Study Shows Decrease in Smoking Among Adults with Depression and Substance Use Disorders

Study Shows Decrease in Smoking Among Adults with Depression and Substance Use Disorders
Study shows smoking rates among US adults with depression or substance use disorder have decreased, but more work needs to be done to ensure their tobacco use continues to decline.

A study entitled "Smoking trends among US adults with severe depression or substance use disorders from 2006 to 2019" is reassuring for public health experts who have long been concerned about the high smoking rates among people with mental health disorders.

Furthermore, these individuals are more likely to find it difficult to quit smoking. Therefore, they benefit greatly from additional support in quitting smoking and obtaining safer alternatives, which at least reduces their chances of developing smoking-related diseases.

A study by researchers from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), both under the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the United States, suggests that this population may benefit from tobacco use prevention and cessation efforts, which have resulted in significant reductions in smoking rates among the general population.

However, researchers emphasized that disparities still exist and need to be addressed. "These declines represent a public health success story," said Wilson Compton, MD, NIDA deputy director and senior author of the study. "But there is much work to be done to ensure that tobacco use continues to decline, particularly among those with substance use disorders, depression or other mental illnesses. It is critical that healthcare providers promptly address all health issues that patients experience, not just their depression or substance use disorder. This requires integrating smoking cessation therapy into existing behavioral health therapies. The result will be longer, healthier lives for everyone.

Individuals with mental health disorders are being excluded from research. A recent study titled "The inequity of clinical trials testing smoking cessation medication: excluding smokers with mental health disorders" sought to examine the practice and reasoning behind excluding smokers with mental health disorders from such trials.

A research team analyzed the Cochrane systematic review database up to September 2020 to obtain evaluations on the use of drug therapy for smoking cessation. "We included 279 randomized controlled trials from 13 Cochrane reviews. Across all studies, 51 (18.3%) explicitly excluded participants with any mental health disorder (MHD), 152 (54.5%) conditionally excluded based on certain MHD criteria, and 76 (27.2%) did not provide sufficient information to determine inclusion or exclusion. The study found that, compared to studies on nicotine replacement therapy, research on antidepressant drugs for smoking cessation was 3.33 times more likely to conditionally exclude MHD smokers (95% CI 1.38 to 8.01, p=0.007)," the researchers reported.

In fact, their conclusion was that there wasn't enough representation of smokers with MHD (Mental Health Disorders) in clinical trials examining the safety and effectiveness of smoking cessation drugs, but there wasn't enough data collected to explain why. The study emphasized the importance of promoting the participation of this minority group in trials.


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