The topic of suicide can be challenging to approach. It is a dark, complex, and frightening reality in our society. It is a legitimate public health crisis. Research has also found a strong correlation between addiction and suicidal thoughts. A 15-year study by the Centers for Disease Control revealed that persons who abused substances or were dependent on alcohol were at a 10–14 times greater risk of dying by suicide.
Even an attempted suicide can leave destruction in its wake for family, friends, and loved ones. This makes it crucial to recognize the mechanisms and behaviors which can lead up to it. Also, as preventative measures that may end up saving a life.
The studies cited above are only two entries in a veritable catalog of research showing a significant connection between addiction and suicide. This includes abuse of legally prescribed drugs such as painkillers or anti-depressants. Also, struggles with drugs and alcohol frequently go together with pre-existing mental disorders including anxiety and depression.
It is important to note that substance abuse does not occur in a vacuum. Mental duress can lead to overindulgence in alcohol or drugs, which can lead to financial or social issues, which can in turn encourage further substance use. These factors unite to form a negative loop that, for many, may seem impossible to escape. And the longer the cycle continues, the more complex intervention by family and friends can become.
Above all, if you think you may be exhibiting signs of possible self-harm, or if you believe a family member or friend may be in trouble, then do not wait. Our addiction recovery professionals can connect you to all the resources you need. Call us today at 918-779-0011.
Relationship Between Addiction and Suicide
In 2010 alone there were 38,364 suicides in the U.S. By 2018 the number had increased to 45,000 (more than double the number of homicides). Across the board, drugs and alcohol have proven to be a significant contributing factor to the stark numbers.
The National Violent Death Reporting system exposed that among 16 states analyzed, “33.3% of suicide (deaths) tested positive for alcohol, 23% for antidepressants, and 20.8% for opiates, including heroin and prescription pain killers.”
Diagnosed substance use disorders are nearly always associated with increased suicide risk. Alcohol on its own can increase a person’s negative self-image while simultaneously lowering their self-esteem—and the longer drinking goes on, the greater the effects. A report revealed suicide is 120 times more likely in adult alcoholics than in the general population.
When it comes to the relationship between addiction and suicidal thoughts, the raw numbers alone are alarming. About 60% of opioid abusers admit to entertaining suicidal thoughts, and a 2019 study revealed that excessive consumption of alcohol or drugs rendered a person nearly 40 times as likely to attempt or go through with suicide at some point in their life. For a person addicted to or abusing multiple substances, the danger increased even further.
Substance Abuse and Suicidal Ideation Go Hand in Hand
It should now be reasonably clear that substance abuse and suicidal ideation go hand in hand. Drugs of any kind can prove problematic when dealing with the issue of self-harm. But opioids pose a particular danger. They are prevalent, widely used, and abused.
Opiates are found in the poppy plant. For instance, they include codeine, morphine, Dilaudid, oxycodone, and kaleidoscope. An opioid’s ability to relieve pain gives it a unique role in the drug world. People who keep indulging are often looking to relieve their suffering. Opposed to just altering their mood. Yet its misuse is widespread, and the drug itself is highly addictive — nothing has its effect when joined with pre-existing mental illnesses.
A study in 2017 found that people who abused opioid prescriptions were twice as likely to commit suicide as those who took the medication as directed. It can be challenging to determine if an opiate overdose was intentional. However, researchers believe that as many as 30% of overdoses resulted from a person’s desire to kill themselves.
Opiates can affect anyone anywhere. The study mentioned above revealed that opioid-related overdoses and apparent suicides have risen over the last decade in all age groups. Yet, the most affected was people aged 55 to 64. This group saw its numbers quadruple. As older people naturally have more illnesses and pain. Also, they find it easier to get legal access to opioid medication.
The nation’s current opioid crisis goes hand-in-hand with its suicide crisis, a deadly combination. Users often start young, leading to a lifetime of addiction. Also all the obstacles that come with it.
In short, if you are worried about yourself or someone you love, then call us today. Our experts are ready to help stop the addiction and start putting you on the path to sobriety.
How Addiction and Mental Health Correlates to Suicidal Behavior
Psychiatric disorders increase the risk of suicide, even without an attendant substance abuse problem. So, you can imagine how seriously they add to an addict’s difficulty. Addiction and suicidal thoughts only feed on each other more in a mind that is not well.
The U.S. Health and Human Services Department found that half of the individuals with diagnosed mental disorders abused substances at some point. Additional data shows that substance abusers are twice as likely to have mutual mood or anxiety disorders.
A report from 2004 showed a frightful statistic. In examined deaths by suicide. 90% of victims suffered from one or more psychiatric illnesses. Aside from depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia were also strongly correlated. And when substance abuse was thrown into the mix, the number of suicide attempts and hospitalizations always increased.
Perhaps the most glaring trait of substance abuse connected with a person’s physiological welfare is the plain fact that alcohol and drugs damage the brain and the body. Not only can they cause extreme alterations of mood, but they also affect decision-making and can result in neurotoxic damage and other health complications.
It is essential to note that not all individuals with mental disorders automatically become addicts. Also, that all addicts are going to have mental disorders. However, the statistical connection between mental illness, addiction, and suicidal thoughts are too apparent to ignore.
The same can be said about suicides—not all of them are tied to other conditions. But the probability of a link remains. This makes the individual or group therapy extremely beneficial for anyone who feels they are against addiction.
If you are worried you might be battling addiction, then call us today. Do not wait. The earlier you reach out for help, the better. However, we will always help those who need it.
Commonly Affected Groups
Specific demographics have proven to be more vulnerable to suicide. For example, age, ethnicity, and gender all play a role.
Suicide was the third leading cause of death for persons 24 and younger in 2010. Researchers also found that alcohol users were more at risk of self-harm the younger they were. This problem seemed to be worse in areas with lower drinking ages.
The elderly are more prone to suicide as a result of psychiatric illness, with alcohol abuse still playing its role. Troublingly, alcohol use disorder is the second-most common condition associated with elderly suicides.
Within the Native American and Alaskan Native populations, depression, and self-harm are the most common factors contributing to self-harm. Social factors may also play a role in terms of isolation and withdrawal.
Even between men and women, there are significant statistical gaps. Men who abuse substances are more than twice as likely to die via suicide, while women are upwards of six times more at risk than their counterparts.
This is not to suggest that your gender, ethnic makeup, or military background will result in a tragic outcome, but from a statistical point, the risks are clear.
If you are worried about yourself, or a loved one, then call us today. We will work together to find the right solution for you. We want to make sure you get the treatment that fits your needs. Call us today, and start your journey to sobriety now.
Look for Warning Signs of Suicide
Suicide is a weighty, often taboo subject in most circles. People who consider taking their own life do not necessarily come out and announce their intent; in fact, they do little more than drop occasional hints. Fear of others overreacting or responding with condemnation can play a role in this. Regardless, it is a good idea to look for warning signs.
Red flags may include:
- A sudden increase in alcohol or drug use
- Social withdrawal
- Bouts of uncontrolled anger or agitation
- Dramatic mood swings
- Difficulty sleeping or sleeping excessively
- Recklessness in decision making, or engaging in risky behavior (such as drunk driving)
- A feeling of purposelessness in life
Some signs are overt. Researching how people kill themselves is a good example. Others include talking about suicide as “a way out,” or writing goodbye letters to loved ones.
There are more subtle indications as well. For example, general feelings of worthlessness often chalked up to “just being in a funk”. Which is sometimes all it is. However, when more than one of these red flags is present, there is a good chance the person is at risk. Sometimes a traumatic event can even trigger these changes with little warning. Recognizing whether someone you know is exhibiting these behaviors may be vital in allowing for positive intervention before things go too far.
There is Hope
The good news is that there is always hope. The path to suicide is not a one-way street. One of the foremost things we must acknowledge is that many people grapple with the same destructive thoughts and feelings every day, in every corner of the world. You, or the people you care about, are not alone in this fight. Indeed, it is a crisis of modern society and has hit the United States particularly hard. But there are tools at your disposal.
As we learn more about the nature of suicide, hospitals and mental health providers are increasingly screening patients for potential suicide risk.
If you think you may be exhibiting signs of possible self-harm, or if you believe a family member or friend may be in trouble, don’t wait. Our addiction recovery professionals can connect you to all the resources you need. Call us today. Do not hesitate, the longer you wait, the worse the outcome can be. Get the help that you need as soon as possible.
Written by Chris Dorsey