Depressed Young Adults More Likely To Start Cigarette Smoking

Armen Hareyan's picture

Young adults who have suffered from depression within the past year are at a higher risk of initiating substance use including cigarette smoking and use of alcohol or illicit drugs. The findings, based on the largest national survey on substance use and health, were reported today by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

The release of this report coincides with the Great American Smokeout - a national observance in support of being free of tobacco use and addiction. The data from the report highlight the relationship between depression and the impulse to begin smoking in young adults.

Depression and the Initiation of Cigarette, Alcohol, and Other Drug Use among Young Adults indicates that 9.4 percent of people aged 18 to 25, or approximately 3 million young adults in the United States experienced one or more major depressive episodes in the past year.


The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), the source for this report, defines a major depressive episode as a period of two weeks or longer during which there is depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure and the presence of at least four other symptoms that reflect a change in functioning. These include problems with sleep, eating, energy, concentration and self-image. This definition is consistent with the one used by the American Psychiatric Association.

"Today is the Great American Smokeout - a day when we pause to recognize ongoing efforts to draw attention to the health benefits of avoiding cigarettes,'' said SAMHSA Administrator Terry Cline, Ph.D. "This study clearly reveals that too often people turn to cigarettes or other substances to try to deal with depression, creating a double jeopardy for their health and well-being."

Among the report's notable findings were that young adults experiencing major depressive episodes within the past year were:


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