People with schizophrenia smoke up to three times more than the general population and more than most psychiatric populations. Schizophrenia patients who smoke also have higher levels of nicotine in their bodies because they tend to extract more nicotine per cigarette than other smokers.
I have been an on and off cigarettes since I was in my mid teens. I go through periods where I chain smoke but I also have periods of abstinence. It’s an ongoing battle. I hate being a slave to something.
As a teen, the group of people I associated with all smoked. I took it up through peer pressure I guess. Nobody likes smoking when they first take it up. It made me nauseous and gave me a head spin. This didn’t stop me from doing it. At first it was the occasional smoke during lunch break or at parties. It wasn’t an addiction – It was just something I did because everyone else was doing it. After a few years I gained a dependency. I now needed that nicotine hit.
I’m now 37 and I’m in hospital so I’m smoking like a chimney. I gave up for two months before being admitted. I bought a pack the day before I got in here as I knew the temptation would be too strong as over half of the patients smoke. Sometimes I smoke simply for something to do. It’s also a good chance to socialise with people who are getting their fixes too.
I’m not sure what the exact number is but my shrink told me that something like 90 percent of people with schizophrenia smoke. I don’t want to make this an excuse to continue smoking but it surely interesting. Does this mean because of my illness I find it harder to quit than other people? It doesn’t help with my symptoms at all.
The cost alone should be enough to make me quit. I spent over 85 dollars on a pack yesterday and that was at the supermarket which is cheaper than the service station where I usually go. Most of that goes to the bloody government.
All I can do is keep trying. At least I’m aware I need to quit. I know people who smoke and have no desire to stop. I’ve been using nicotine gum but that became an addiction too. I was chewing four pieces at a time. As soon as I get out of here and I’m home I’ll give it another shot.