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Int J Clin Pharmacol Ther. 2002 Sep;40(9):404-18.

A review of the pharmacological and psychopharmacological aspects of smoking and smoking cessation in psychiatric patients.

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  • 1Institute for Nicotine Research and Smoking Cessation, Erfurt, Germany.


The data reviewed confirm that mentally ill patients smoke twice as many cigarettes as patients without mental illness. The secretion of neurotransmitters such as noradrenaline, serotonin, dopamine, acetylcholine, gamma-amino-butyric acid and glutamate is increased by the binding of nicotine to central nicotine receptors. There are also data showing that serotonin formation and secretion in patients with mental illness are influenced by chronic smoking. Cigarette smoke inhibits the activity of monoamine oxidase B, which is responsible for the catabolism of several brain neurotransmitters. Patients suffering from major depression show a comorbidity between heavy smoking and the disease. In patients with schizophrenia treated with neuroleptics, increased cigarette smoking reduces adverse reactions to the drug therapy presumably because of an increase in metabolism of the neuroleptics. There is also evidence suggesting that quitting smoking is more difficult for mentally ill patients than patients without psychiatric disease. Several studies have been carried out on smoking cessation in psychiatric patients. The alternative method of harm reduction, e.g. reducing the number of cigarettes smoked using nicotine patches or chewing gum, is necessary in patients not able to quit. The data indicate that strategies such as the coupling of smoking prohibition with administration of nicotine preparations are useful in smoking cessation. A no-smoking policy in psychiatric clinics, even when this leads to withdrawal symptoms in the patients affected, has no negative effect on mental illness. Because patients with mental diseases are particularly vulnerable to the marketing strategies of the tobacco industry, this chronically ill section of the population requires special protection by the law-makers.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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