Tobacco Dependence and Schizophrenia: A Complex Correlation

Author:  Mrigasha Patel
Institution:  Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Date:  February 2010

Tobacco dependence in patients with schizophrenia is an increasing concern with few treatment options. Individuals with Schizophrenia have a cigarette smoking prevalence rate which is significantly higher than the general population. Consequently, patients also have a lower quit rate than the general population. The increased prevalence of tobacco use in this population complicates symptoms and also has adverse physiological effects on patients. Recent studies have demonstrated that patients with schizophrenia smoke before the onset of the illness and also start smoking earlier than the average population. Patients also become psychotic earlier than patients who do not smoke, and also require higher doses of anti-psychotic medications. This review examines recent literature and discusses models proposed to explain the relationship between tobacco dependence and schizophrenia and concludes by discussing treatment options for smokers with schizophrenia.