Visiting a Relative in a Mental Hospital--Should you Bring Cigarettes?


Have a question: when visiting a distant relative in a mental hospital, as Jesus tells us all to do, (visit the sick and those in prison) --to go visit the sick and infirm, but IF they request the smokes, a carton of cigarettes to be exact----should we bring them in for them? i am confused as to what to do. what would you do? have never been posed with such question before. thanks alot.



why not? Unless the doctor says nope or they are in the Mental Hospital due to Nicotine withdrawl, I say give it to them…


I agree, if it’s not a financial burden for you. If a person is in a mental hospital, it’s probably not the best time for them to try to quit smoking. The person needs to keep focused on getting better right now.


You need to check with the hospital to determine what the policy is about bringing gifts of any kind to patients.


Someone you don’t know very well - I would let them know how much they cost, and be up front that I’m bringing them in because they can’t get out to buy it themselves; don’t even question the fact that you expect to be paid back, because, health issues aside, that’s a pretty expensive “gift.”

We had a neighbor in the hospital in the terminal ward - he was there for literally months, and my husband used to bring him his smokes. He was always good about having the money to pay him back - it was never an issue.

We also brought him gifts - books, cards, flowers, puzzles, etc. that were fun things from us to him - my husband even got him a little CD player with ear phones that he could listen to without disturbing other patients, but the cigarettes were his own responsibility, as far as we were concerned - we would bring them in, but we never considered them “gifts.”


I would ask the hospital as has been previously mentioned but I’ve heard that there are certain medically based mental illnesses for which cigarettes seem to have some stabilizing effects.


I don’t think I would because I don’t agree with smoking. I might bring something else I thought the person would enjoy, but I wouldn’t feel obligated to go against my personal beliefs. Don’t feel the need to appologize if you don’t bring the cigs either. You can bring a gift or not bring a gift. And if you bring a gift, you can bring whatever you want.

A similar thing happened when I was invited to a baby shower and they wanted the guests to bring formula or disposable diapers. I don’t like either of those things, so I bought the mom-to-be some scrapbooking things and some rattly socks for the baby similar to those she had admired on my baby.


I will echo what others have said to call the facility and ask them if you are allowed to bring anything, and I mean anything, to the patient. I am not sure what condition your relative is in the mental hospital for, but cigarettes can be used for people to burn themselves. I worked on the psych unit a bit at a local hospital. These patients are checked on every fifteen minutes and have to be monitored while shaving. They can not even have pens/pencils without supervision because many see it as an opportunity to hurt/kill themselves with it(i.e. stab themselves in the neck). They are supervised while eating so that they do not try to use a utencil against themselves. We even collected any paper that is used since that can be used to cut themselves as well. Even things like shoe laces are banned.

Many hospitals are now going smoke-free. The hospital where your relative is at probably offers nicotine patches or other substitues like Wellbutrin(bupropion), which is a combination anti-smoking and antidepressant oral drug.

Please do call the hospital before traveling there. Even things that you may not think would be harmful might potentially be. And even if your relative does not have a condition where he/she is at risk for self/other directed violence, most likely there is another on that unit that is at risk, and could try to take that item to self/other injure.


Just one last thing. Thank you, sincerely, for going to see your relative. There is so much misconception and fear about those who are in a psych unit. Oftentimes the patients that were on the psych unit in the hosital where I worked, had been living ordinary lives and then suddenly lived through such indescribably horrific situations. (i.e. witnessing a murder, being raped/having a child raped, terrible cases of abuse and betrayal). There just aren’t words enough to describe the situations that a lot of the people there have been through. Many of the situations these people have been through, I don’t think I would have been able to handle it better than they.

There is a big stigma on getting psych treatment/taking pscyh drugs, but loving support from family can make such a world of difference to ensure that they stay on those drugs which are sorely needed. If you know their diagnosis, do some research on it before you go, or talk to their nurse so you have some idea of what to expect. That will take a lot of the fear out of it. And if your relative says some out line things, definitely don’t take it personally.

Thanks again! :slight_smile:


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