Smoking Cessation Program in PTSD Treatment

Veterans with post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSS) were twice as likely to quit smoking if a smoking cessation program was part of their therapeutic program. However, even with the combination of regular therapy and smoking cessation sessions, only 9% or 42 vets out of 470 in the study were able to quit smoking.

In the other group of 470 who underwent conventional therapy for PTSS, only 5% (21 participants) quit smoking during the course of the study.

The study challenged a widely-held assumption that people with psychological problems need to smoke as a coping mechanism, and forcing them to quit when they are under stress may make their problems worse. Over 40% of the ten million Americans receiving mental health treatment are smokers.

Researchers from the Veterans Administration studied 943 service men and women who were both smokers and among the 400,000 treated for PTSS at VA clinics.

"Veterans with PTSS can be helped for nicotine addiction," said lead author Miles McFall, director of the PTSS treatment programs at the VA Puget Sound Health Care System in Seattle. "We do have effective treatments to help them, and they should not be afraid to ask their health care providers, including mental health providers, for assistance in stopping smoking."

This study appears in the Journal of the American Medical Association.