Bipolar: Smoking and Bipolar Disorder


I saw this post on my blog and wanted to share it with you, because I thought it was a very important topic:

“Hi Dave There is something I have not read about in your emails. I wonder if there have ever been studies done about the effects of tobacco use or nicotine with bipolar disorder. My father was a mile mannered gentleman who was liked and respected by most people.

He was a heavy smoker. He quit smoking about age 50. Ather he quit smoking, his personality changed. He began using a lot of profanity, he physically attracted the mailman, and when a local church burned down, he tried to take credit for that. I thought he needed some kind of mental help. I planned to consult with an attorney.

The day I was going to see an attoryney, I heard a newscast announcing the the govorner of the statr (Missouri) had sighned a bill the prevoius day forbidding involuntary detainment of persons with a mental disorder. this was in the 1970s before people had heard of bipolar disorder. the rest of his life, he put me and my mother through a lot of verbal abuse. My mother said she wished he would start smoking again.

I have heard that nicotine has some effects on the brain and may have something to do with delaying the onset of alzheimer’s disease. I sonder if you have heard of any studies having to do with bipolar disorder. I would appreciate any news about this in your email.





I have been asked about this before. Smoking does have an effect on the brain because it affects the dopamine receptors, which are the pleasure centers in your brain. That’s what makes it so difficult to quit. And it can have some effect on medications taken for things like bipolar disorder. That’s why doctors always ask you if you smoke and how much you smoke (and for how long), and because smoking does have an effect on you.

As far as research on studies for bipolar disorder, it’s best to take an entire day or two to go to a university library. That’s what I always have to do. You basically go to a big university and then spend the day researching for the study you are looking for. I believe there are also studies on bipolar disorder and smoking but I don’t remember the details.

I do know this, though – That several people who I know who quit smoking and had bipolar disorder went into episodes. Does this mean that you can’t quit smoking when you have bipolar disorder? NO. But if you do, in my opinion, you need a plan if you are going to do so. Talk to your doctor and therapist. Tell them you want to quit smoking. Talk with your supporters. Make a plan with all of them. Check out all the programs that are for quitting smoking. There are a ton of them, everything from meditation to some kind of therapy programs to tapes and CDs to hypnosis (NOTE: I am not endorsing any one or which one.) Whatever you are doing, make sure that you are monitored and if something goes wrong you have a plan B in place as well.

Michele who works for me once quit smoking and went into a mini bipolar episode.

According to her, here are the mistakes she made:

1. She didn’t do any research.

2. She didn’t have a plan.

3. She didn’t talk to anyone about it.

4. She didn’t tell her doctor.

5. She didn’t explore options.

6. She took medication she hadn’t

checked out thoroughly to see

if it would affect her bipolar disorder.

The biggest mistake she made, though, was when she started having side effects, she didn’t stop using the medication, because she wanted to quit smoking so bad. That’s what ended her up in the hospital in a bipolar episode. So, even though quitting smoking is important, you also have to have a plan and not make the mistakes that Michele made.

Well, I have to go!

Your Friend,




  1. My son-in-law has not been diagnosed with bipolar or anything really for that matter but I am certain he has it. He recently quit smoking and is a horrible person. He verbally abuses my daughter (his wife) and starts fights with her over nothing. I really believe there is a correlation but since he has not been diagnosed and refuses to go to the doctors we may never know. But I agree with the e-mail that there is something there about the nicotine affecting your brain. Thanks for listening.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *