Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Depression, Substance Use Rising Among Former Cigarette Smokers

The prevalence of depression and substance use is rising among former cigarette smokers, potentially putting them at risk for relapsing to smoking, a study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine has found. Moreover, this increase could threaten the progress that has been made at a population level in reducing cigarette use.

Keely Cheslack-Postava, Ph.D., of Columbia University, and colleagues analyzed data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) to determine trends in major depression, alcohol use, and marijuana use among more than 67,000 adult former smokers. The NSDUH is an annual survey sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration that asks participants about substance use, mental health, and more.

In 2016, 6.04% of former smokers had experienced a major depressive episode within the previous year, up from 4.88% in 2005. From 2002 to 2016, past-year marijuana use nearly doubled from 5.35% to 10.09%, and past-month binge alcohol drinking increased from 17.22% to 22.33%.

“What seems of potential interest here from a tobacco control perspective is that recent data suggest that depression, marijuana use, and alcohol misuse among former smokers are associated with significantly increased risk for relapse to cigarette use,” the researchers wrote.

“Addressing risk factors for smoking relapse that are increasing among former smokers may aid them in long-term abstinence and avoidance of relapse to smoking and the consequent harmful consequences of active smoking,” they continued. “Therefore, former smokers should be continually monitored for relapse to smoking as well as for behaviors that are related to smoking relapse. In addition, public health and clinical interventions can target modifiable risk factors and reduce the likelihood of relapse.”

For information, see the Psychiatric News article “Psychiatrists Hold Key for Helping Patients Quit Tobacco.”

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