Substance Abuse and Suicide

Substance abuse and suicide

Suicide, substance abuse, and depression have a very interconnected relationship. In fact, more than 90 percent of people who commit suicide suffer from depression, have a substance abuse disorder or both.

Does substance abuse increase risk of suicide?

Many who suffer from severe depression as a result of major depression, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder or other conditions frequently turn to drugs, alcohol or other risky behaviors to numb their pain and/or alleviate negative feelings. Unfortunately, abusing substances offers only temporary relief. The long-term side effects of substance abuse are increased severity and duration of depressive episodes, which means using drugs and alcohol actually makes you feel worse. This, coupled with a breakdown of relationships and isolation from loved ones, increases the likelihood of suicidal thoughts or actions.

Research suggests some individuals with certain types of substance use and abuse disorders are more likely to engage in suicidal behaviors. Individuals who use opiates, cocaine or sedatives may have a noticeably higher risk of suicide than those who use other drugs.

Common risk factors of suicide

Individuals with a substance abuse disorder are nearly six times as likely to attempt suicide during their lifetime. Some of the most common risk factors for suicide include:

  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Depression
  • Substance and alcohol abuse
  • Family/community history of suicide
  • Family history of violence and/or sexual abuse
  • Previous incarceration
  • Violent behavior toward others

Suicide warning signs

Though this list is not exhaustive, it’s important to understand common warning signs so you can seek professional help before it’s too late. It’s also important to note that some people who are feeling suicidal never exhibit warning signs publically. If you’re concerned for your personal safety or the safety of a loved one, we urge you to seek treatment as soon as possible. Here are the most common warning signs of suicide:

  • Expressing a desire for death
  • Expressing a feeling of being trapped
  • Acting agitated, irritable or anxious
  • Exhibiting reckless behavior
  • Isolating themselves from friends or loved ones
  • Avoiding social situations
  • Abandoning hobbies or other sources of enjoyment
  • Experiencing insomnia
  • Using drugs and alcohol to excess

Suicide prevention

When you’re struggling with a mental health issue, substance abuse can significantly increase your risk of suicide. Not only can treatment help you overcome your addiction, but it can also help alleviate mental health symptoms like depression or suicidal thoughts. A person with a dual diagnosis has both a mental disorder, like depression, and a substance use disorder. The best treatment for dual diagnosis is integrated intervention, which means you receive care for both your diagnosed mental illness and substance use disorder at the same time. Here are a few common elements of treatment:

  • Detoxification
    Trained staff will monitor you 24/7 and provide tapering amounts of the substance or an alternative to lessen the effects of withdrawal.
  • Inpatient rehabilitation
    A person struggling with a dual diagnosis may benefit from an inpatient rehabilitation setting where they can receive health care around the clock.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
    CBT helps people with dual diagnosis cope with and change unhealthy thought patterns, which are a catalyst to substance abuse.
  • Medications
    Certain medications may help treat mental health disorders.
  • Supportive housing
    Residential treatment centers are an essential part of recovery because they help people who are newly sober continue treatment in a safe and supportive setting.
  • Self-help and support groups
    Support groups help those dealing with a dual diagnosis share frustrations, celebrate successes, find referrals and swap recovery tips.

The Miramar Recovery Center is ready to create an individualized treatment plan based on your unique needs. We want to give you the exact care you need for your successful recovery journey. Call (949) 691-5036 to get the help you need and take the first step toward long-lasting recovery.


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