Tobacco Use Treatment for People Balancing Behavioral Health Issues

Tobacco use can be a tough obstacle for people living with behavioral health issues. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-5 (DSM), Tobacco Use Disorder is a behavioral health condition.

People who use substances and people with mental health illness experience higher use, exposure, and health harms related to tobacco. Data also shows that individuals with a substance use disorder (SUD) or mental health issue die between five to 25 years earlier than those without these behavioral health issues—many of these deaths are caused by smoking.

Experienced Black medical provider extends a supportive hand to a younger white woman as they sit together at a table, looking at laptop

The Evidence is In: Quitting Smoking IMPROVES Behavioral Health

  • Growing evidence indicates that quitting smoking has positive effects on and is associated with improvements in mental health.
  • A 2014 study in the British Medical Journal showed behavioral health symptoms improve after quitting—including levels of anxiety, stress, and depression.
  • Multiple studies also show when people quit tobacco while in treatment for alcohol or other substances, they are more successful in their recovery and less likely to relapse.
  • Quitting does not interfere with behavioral health treatment and does not worsen or impede recovery from substance use disorders.

Check out this six-minute video that debunks five myths about smoking and quitting in people with mental illness and addiction.

Strategies for Healthcare Professionals

People balancing behavioral health issues like SUD or mental health disorders will likely experience barriers to screening, referral, and treatment for tobacco dependence. Though they have less access to tobacco treatment services across the healthcare spectrum, studies have shown that as many as 80% of clients in behavioral health treatment are interested in tobacco cessation–higher than rates seen among the general population of smokers.

When mental health centers and their staff make tobacco treatment part of their routine clinical approach by offering counseling and medications, they increase a patient’s chances for quitting.

Available Training

Start the following available training today to learn techniques that you can use with patients balancing behavioral health issues to motivate small changes towards improved health. Make sure to also share with other behavioral health staff!

QuitWorks-NH Motivational Interviewing eLearing Module
Our module on motivational interviewing is one of several in the series aimed at expanding your knowledge and skills in working with patients with tobacco dependence. Motivational interviewing is a style of communicating that helps motivate change. It can be an effective approach to help people change undesired behaviors. After completing this module, you will be able to discuss how to effectively engage in a patient-centered conversation using motivational interviewing.

Wisconsin Nicotine Treatment Integration Project (WiNTiP) Training for Behavioral Health Professionals
This training highlights the direct experience of behavioral health professionals who have integrated the treatment of tobacco dependence into their treatment settings. You will learn how to make your treatment program tobacco free and how to integrate the treatment of tobacco dependence into your current clinical services.  This training is appropriate for all behavioral health professionals: those that provide direct care and those that administer treatment programs; those that work in a mental health treatment setting and those that work in a substance use disorder treatment setting.

Refer Your Patients to a Quit Coach

Submit a Provider Web Referral or E-Referral through the EMR.
Choose the most convenient method for YOUR practice!