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County Psychiatric Health Facility To Be Smoke-Free


Wednesday, April 24, 2013
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The change to a smoke-free facility was initiated to support the physical health of hospitalized individuals. Therapeutic alternatives will be offered to mitigate withdrawal symptoms and to encourage smoking cessation.

The Psychiatric Health Facility (PHF) is a short-term mental health hospital for adults in psychiatric crisis who are at risk of harming themselves or others. Individuals in this facility have serious mental health needs. Providing a healthy environment is a top priority for program administrators.

Research has consistently shown higher prevalence of tobacco use among individuals with behavioral health conditions. People with psychiatric disorders smoke nearly half of all cigarettes produced, but they are half as likely to quit as other smokers. More than 44% of US adults with serious mental illness are smokers. This population correspondingly experiences higher rates of disease and premature death, and a reduced quality of life.

In planning this policy change Alcohol Drug and Mental Health Services collaborated with the County Public Health Department Tobacco Prevention Settlement Program. Together they created policies, signs, materials and training that will support success with the transition to a smoke-free environment.

PHF Medical Director Dr. Leslie Lundt, MD, who initiated the policy change explained, “We are pleased to create a smoke-free facility that supports the health and well-being of our PHF clients, as well as their families and friends who visit, and our staff. Our facility joins a growing number of behavioral health treatment settings that are addressing nicotine dependence among their clients.”

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This is a misguided, unthoughtout decision. The stress of trying to kick alcohol/drug addiction plus dealing with other mental disorders Is extremely high. So is the stress of kicking the smoking addiction. Add the two together spells disaster. Cigarettes have a calming affect for a smoker under stress, a fact proven by many studies. This is simply too much at once. Where is the problem in having designated outdoor smoking areas??? Patches don't get it. A big part of smoking is the ritual involved; lighting up, holding a cigarette, hand to mouth action, and the pure pleasure of inhaling the smoke. This calming effect helps the patient to focus on the other issues that are the primary purpose of these facilities. For a smoker smoking is a "medication". Take note; during any therapy sessions, in fact the whole time they are there, ALL a smoker will be thinking is "I need a cigarette"! While smoking is not a healthy habit, by lumping it all together, all at once, is only going to disturb and agitate the patient more, and assure a much lower success rate for the purpose of the program. Doctors, above all, should be educated and knowledgeable enough to understand the fallacy of this decision ("should" being the operative word here). Use your commonsense, folks, by helping a patient stay focused on the INTENDED goals, and using an incremental approach. California may want to "outlaw" smoking everywhere but a drug/alcohol/mental disorders facility is NOT the place to do it!!! Also you can bet that all of the smokers employed by these facilities WILL find a place to "sneek" a smoke. I've witnessed it firsthand.

BAD BAD DECISION!!!

xguy (anonymous profile)
April 25, 2013 at 9:22 a.m. (Suggest removal)