Researchers are strengthening the association between patients suffering from schizophrenia and heavy usage of tobacco. Smoking tobacco is a real problem for schizophrenics and can drastically decrease life expectancy, said Stéphane Potvin, one of the lead researchers of the study.
The heavy usage of nicotine caused by schizophrenia can turn into an addiction, which over time can lead to increased symptoms of depression and anxiety. To further understand how schizophrenics become vulnerable to nicotine use, they analyzed the ‘greater neuronal activation’ of frequent smokers.
“These observations suggest that smoking has a greater rewarding effect in schizophrenic smokers. This corroborates the hypothesis already formulated of their increased vulnerability to this addiction but also demonstrates the great difficulty for them when it comes to quitting smoking” Potvin stated.
Smoking cessation is low in schizophrenic patients, as tobacco usage remains one of the biggest risk factors associated with this mental disease. It has been noted by researchers that increased tobacco smoking could also lead to heart disease, among other illnesses.
The reason for the heavy smoking is due to patients self-medicating their symptoms of anxiety, depression or psychosis, according to researchers. In addition, the study also found that nicotine levels were much lower in schizophrenic patients than in healthy individuals. Furthermore, it was also determined that high nicotine levels were linked to social withdrawal in patients linked to psychotic disorders.