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Addiction to drugs or alcohol and suicide are steadily increasing in our society. Often, the two are linked by a complex connection that is often misunderstood or unnoticed. By recognizing the link between addiction and suicide, we can better support individuals struggling with either or both issues.
Addiction and Suicide
In the United States, suicide is one of the top ten causes of death for people of all ages.
A person with an addiction to drugs or alcohol increases their risk of suicide. Their addiction makes them more likely to die by suicide by up to 14 times more than others.
Drug or alcohol addiction is common in people who commit suicide. Here are five facts about addiction and suicide:
- In recent years, suicides related to narcotic painkillers, or opioids, have doubled.
- Approximately one out of five people who die from suicide use heroin or prescription opioids.
- People with an alcohol addiction are five times more likely to commit suicide than people who are social drinkers.
- In more than one in five suicides, the individual had a lot of alcohol in their system at the time of death.
- Cocaine, amphetamines, and marijuana are used by many people who commit suicide.
Possible Links Between Addiction and Suicide
Addiction creates a ripple effect that can devastate an individual’s entire life. It can damage relationships, affect physical and emotional health, and bring numerous financial and legal consequences. Addiction can also trigger depression and anxiety. In many cases, addiction becomes a way for people to cope with underlying emotional or mental health problems. However, it eventually creates a vicious cycle that traps individuals in a never-ending cycle of dependency, hopelessness, and despair.
- Mental health conditions play a significant role in the link between addiction and suicide. The rate of mental health disorders is high among individuals struggling with addiction, and these conditions can increase the risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors. One common mental health condition linked to addiction is depression. Depression often coexists with substance abuse, as individuals may turn to drugs or alcohol as a way to cope with their feelings of sadness or despair. Another mental health condition closely linked to addiction and suicide is anxiety. Individuals with anxiety disorders may turn to substances as a way of self-soothing or calming their overwhelming anxiety. Unfortunately, self-medication exacerbates the symptoms of depression and anxiety, creating a cycle of addiction and heightening the risk of suicidal ideation.
- Additionally, individuals struggling with addiction may also experience other mental health conditions such as bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or borderline personality disorder. These conditions can further complicate the link between addiction and suicide, as they contribute to emotional instability and feelings of hopelessness.
- One factor that links addiction and suicide is the fact that both share a sense of isolation and desperation. People suffering from addiction often feel alone and cut off from the rest of the world, making them more vulnerable to suicidal thoughts and tendencies. Substance use disorders affect brain chemistry, altering a person’s ability to control impulses, behaviors, and emotions. When coupled with feelings of desperation and hopelessness, addiction can lead to suicidal ideation.
Warning Signs of Suicide in Those Struggling with Addiction
Recognizing the warning signs of suicide in individuals struggling with addiction is crucial for early intervention and prevention. While everyone’s experience is unique, certain signs and behaviors may indicate a heightened risk of suicidal thoughts or actions.
Warning signs may include:
- A sudden and significant change in behavior or mood, including withdrawing from social activities, isolating oneself, or displaying extreme mood changes, such as becoming unusually irritable, sad, or anxious
- Expressing feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, or guilt
- Giving away prized possessions
- Making final arrangements or expressing a desire to die
- Verbalizing thoughts such as “I can’t go on anymore” or “Life isn’t worth living”
It is also essential to be aware of any previous suicide attempts, as individuals who have previously attempted suicide are at a higher risk of future attempts. If you or someone you know is exhibiting signs of suicidal thoughts or behaviors, seek immediate help from a mental health professional, helpline, or trusted individual.
You Can Regain Control of Your Life
Addiction is a chronic brain disease. It is treatable. If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, we can help. Located in Mesa, Arizona, the skilled professionals at Canyon Vista Recovery Center will help you regain control of your life. They will guide you along the road to recovery, using a combination of evidence-based addiction treatments, medical and psychiatric care, and holistic therapies. Now is the time to get the help you need.