Relax, don’t do it… (smoke, that is)
A common excuse for Queensland smokers to avoid quitting is that smoking is relaxing, but the latest data shows it does the opposite.
Executive Director of Mental Health, Alcohol and Other Drugs, Dr John Allan said adult daily smokers are twice as likely to report high or very high levels of psychological distress, compared to those who have never smoked.
“Daily smokers were also twice as likely to be diagnosed with, or treated for, a mental health condition when compared with people who had never smoked,” he said.
“This data is concerning. There are the commonly-known physical health impacts of smoking, such as lung cancer, respiratory conditions, heart disease, and an increased risk of heart attack.
“Increasingly strong evidence that tobacco smoking may increase risk of psychosis is yet another reason to quit.”
Dr Allan said Queensland Health market research found that 47 percent of regular smokers do it to deal with stress, and 47 percent smoke because it relaxes them.
“The science proves it only feels like it’s relaxing because it’s satisfying a craving,” he said.
“Addiction to nicotine means you experience a feeling of stress whenever you crave nicotine.
“Satisfying that craving with a smoke will feel calming temporarily, but smoking actually increases your feelings of stress and anxiety.
“When you smoke, nicotine travels to your brain quickly, causing your brain to release adrenaline.
“The adrenaline triggers your body’s natural ‘fight or flight’ response – your heart rate and blood pressure increases and blood flow to your heart slows down. You might also experience rapid, shallow breathing and the feeling of a racing heartbeat.
“All of these reactions can cause feelings of stress and anxiety, and make existing stress and anxiety worse.
“So, if you’re having a smoke to wind down, it’s time to rethink your relaxation methods.”
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