August 20, 2004

Schizophrenia and Nicotine

Read more... Schizophrenia Biology

A long-term study of more than 50,000 Swedish military conscripts suggests that early cigarette smoking may provide a shield against schizophrenia. After a variety of other possible influences were accounted for, men who smoked cigarettes at the time of conscription (ages 18-20) were less likely to be diagnosed with schizophrenia during the following 27 years.

The more they smoked, the lower the chance of developing schizophrenia. Each increase of one half pack per day reduced the risk by about 10%, up to 11/2 packs per day. The association did not hold in the first five years after conscription, but some men diagnosed during that time may already have been suffering from unrecognized early symptoms in late adolescence.

We don't suggest smoking for people who have schizophrenia - because of the well-known and deadly Lung Cancer and Emphysema associated with smoking.

The detailed study summary is available here: Am J Psychiatry. 2003 Dec;160(12):2216-21. Investigating the association between cigarette smoking and schizophrenia in a cohort study. By Zammit S, Allebeck P, Dalman C, Lundberg I, Hemmingsson T, Lewis G., Department of Psychological Medicine, University of Wales College of Medicine, Heath Park, Cardiff


I have an acquaintance who is schizophrenic since teens. he was an early smoker as well. He now smokes two packs a day and is confined to an apartment where he breathes in all his own second hand smoke. He has told me his doctor told him to not quit smoking because it helps schizophrenics feel better. I think this is a bunch of garbage. He swears this is medically true and I tell him it is not so. Any comments? Frances

Posted by: Frances at May 11, 2005 05:00 AM

I have a husband and brother in law who are both schizophrenic. Having witnessed first hand the effects of smoking and the cessation of it in both of them, it has its benefits. Just from observation, when my husband tries to quit, hallucinations set in or he becomes despondent and in his own world. My brother in law who quit smoking for 5 years, who is confined to his apartment etc., was convinced by my husband to try smoking again...he said it made him feel like he just woke up out of a coma.

Now come to find out upon my own research, that most, if not all, schizophrenics have a huge niacin (B-3) defincency. Niacin either helps the brain produce or has a byproduct (cant remember which) of a substance called Nicotinine. A recommended therapy for people with this disorder is 500-3000mg a day of niacin (depending on severity) and about 1000mg a day of Vitamin C. I have had my husband on this therapy for about a week now and have already seen a drastic improvement in the way he is able to handle himself. So to answer your question, what your friend says about smoking is completely viable. I honestly would never recommend a schizophrenic to try to quit unless they had another program in place to do what the nicotine does for them.

Posted by: Melissa at June 8, 2005 02:16 PM

Francis, There is some research to suggest that nicotine may help people with schizophrenia - unfortunately it will also likely cause cancer - so its not a great approach. There is a product called "SNUS" that is a smokeless tabacco that people can put in their mouth that provides the nicotine without the lung cancer issues associated with cigarette smoking.

Melissa - the information you have on Nicacin deficiency was long ago proven wrong. See our "Complementary Treatments for schizophrenia" page to get more information on this - see this link:

Posted by: Sz Administrator at June 9, 2005 09:01 PM

What about using nicotine patches?

Posted by: George Watson at July 12, 2006 06:48 PM

francis and ,mellisa, after cessation of smoking, suffering from schizophrenia, i experienced many inconclusive experiences, in the first week elation , the next week deep depression, the next week a strange feeling of being normal, etc.......what i would usualy use as a control of mental environment, cigarettes,cessation led me to experience in its truthfull, i suppose, sense the disorder or disease (sorry for spelling mist)......feeling like youre back to normal if you resume cigarettes doesnt necessarily mean that "normal" is point being......after i experienced my disease with its full impact i was able to discern delusion from reality much more readily.....i still have lots of deluded thinking, but what used to replace reality before-smoking, no longer exists......this pushes the extremes of my illness but as any mental disease sufferer will tell you after the worst attacks, you definately feel much better then you did prior to the attacks.....this offcourse doesnt mean that i am 100% of the day experiencing extreme stages of just saying that when im experiencing them if i let them take its full impact on me, i start to fight the illness a lot more effectively....and the pros of cessation are obvious, better breathing, less coughing, less risk of serious disease, a feeling of achievement, and the main point i was trying to make, a clearer observance of schizophrenia, and readines to change thinking patterns, okiedokie....byes

Posted by: andrej-consumer at August 21, 2006 09:35 PM

I have found the comments quite informative and knowlegeable. This requires detailed reserch on the subject.

Posted by: satyamurti shimoga at January 24, 2007 02:25 AM

My dad died of cancer last year, I also found out that he had Schizophrenia and was on different medication for lupus , he could not quit smoking and the doctors say that he pretty much killed him self because he could not quit. I need to get as much info on the affect of Schizophrenia
and Tabacco. I want to prove to them and countless others that there was a connection to his smoking and Schizophrenia. I would like more than anything to be educated.

Posted by: Haley at March 18, 2007 06:58 PM

about 4 months ago i came back from a rave ive been smoking weed and doing mushrooms forever, but i came back after the rave and i smoked a bowl of weed with my friends and then it hit me like it felt like i was overdosing on something i felt superrr spaced out and everything was a big delusion and my heart was coming out of my chest it was sort of gone the next day but i kept getting flash backs of whatever it was till this day and i still don't feel normal, i havnt smoked weed since but i tried to smoke cigarettes and it made me feel even weirder i dont know why, the doctor said i experienced psychosis but i think i must of experienced it but also with many other effects and withdrawals from other drugs, i really need some feedback cuz its scary and it feels like im going to be high for life, somebody please help me out...

Posted by: matt hutch at November 1, 2007 09:25 AM

I am not a doctor and can not provide any medical advice so I can't really help you. I can only say I had a similar experience when using drugs I used ecstasy and became overly paranoid and it did not go away, I did some weed and it triggered a reaction in me that caused me to become delusional and get psychosis. I was hospitalized psychiatrist prescribed antipsychostics to me I managed to stop taking them and then stayed away from all drugs and I eventually healed. What I would recommend to you is you must consult a psychiatrist if you are feeling "High" I am not sure what you mean by this by if your symptoms include hearing voices paranoia anxiety etc. You should see a psychiatrist if you do not because YOu live in a country that does not have free health care You have no health insurance or you just do not want to then I would suggest that Stay away from all Marijuana, Cocaine, Ecstasy, Just stay away from all drugs and drinking for a long period of time. Then incorporate some more green vegetables in your diet and try to exercise more. This could start healing you from your feelings of being high. And finally if this is a serious problem to you you must confide in someone and be honest with them about the situation surrounding your psychosis. PLease seek medical help if you feel that you are going to be "high" forever.

Posted by: Tobias Matthewson at February 12, 2008 07:26 PM

Post a comment

Please enter this code to enable your comment -
Remember Me?
(you may use HTML tags for style)
* indicates required