Suicidal thoughts and ideations is a phrase that is all too commonly known by many addicts and alcoholics. The hopelessness and despair brought on by the abuse of drugs and alcohol is something that few but those who suffer from it can comprehend. It is like being trapped in a bottomless pit, with darkness covering all you can see, and the only light is brought about by the ingestion of substances that only temporarily block the pain. For many, these substances stop working and there arrives a point when no relief can be had, leaving them with two choices: attempt to get sober or take their own lives, and as easy as this choice may seem from the outside, making it can be tremendously difficult.
Many drug addicts and alcoholics have arrived at this point in their active addictions. They could no longer bare the weight of their addiction, and taking their own lives seemed like the only option. It is so unfortunate that the diseases of alcoholism or addiction, diseases that are so easily remedied, can do this to a person. It can strip them of everything that they have, leaving them a shell of their former self, with its only goal being the complete annihilation of its host.
For some the rise of depression and suicidal thoughts are the direct result of their alcoholism and the hopelessness they feel about ever escaping it. For these people getting sober and realizing that they can live the life they always wanted is usually the best form of suicide prevention, but for others their drug abuse or alcoholism was merely self-medication for an underlying mental illness. When this is the case, working the steps may in fact improve their mental condition, but if the underlying mental illness is not addressed the suicidal thoughts may come back.
The Link Between Addiction and Suicide
Psychology Today published an article about suicide being one of the hidden risks associated with addiction and their research found that “the strongest predictor of suicide [among people with a mental illness] is alcoholism, not a psychiatric diagnosis.” They also found that “people with substance use disorders are about six times more likely to commit suicide than the general population.”
These figures are astounding, considering that among the other risks associated with drug addiction and alcoholism, such as overdosing or dying from withdrawals, the active alcoholic or addict also has to contend with the fact that they are six times more likely to attempt suicide than the average American.
One of the main factors that the article attributes to this figure is what was already mentioned above, the fact that the alcoholic or addict will at some point lose hope that they will ever be able to achieve sobriety. When this hope is lost, if the proper support is not in place, the chances that they will attempt suicide are fairly high.
Another of the factors that link addiction to suicide is that a number of drugs, such as alcohol or sedatives, act as a depressant which further exacerbate any depression that is currently going on. When faced with the dilemmas that often arise from active addiction, legal woes, relational problems, financial issues, the alcoholic or addict, could with the added depressant feeling of the substance they are abusing, feel so down that they start to believe that their only option is suicide.
As stacked as the deck seems to be against those who suffer from an addiction of some sorts, not all hope is lost and there is a lot that can be done to not only prevent suicide, but also to allow the person to live a happy and useful life.
Suicide Prevention and Treatment
Research has shown that the suicide rate among patients under some sort of medical supervision, whose substance use disorders go untreated, can be as high as 45%. This is an extremely high number, especially when treatment has been shown to dramatically reduce this number. So why are there still such a large number of people resorting to suicide when help is so easily attained. The Psychology Today article states the reason is because many primary care physicians and psychologists have not been trained to help identify and prevent suicide among addicts and alcoholics, and as a result many shy away from asking the hard question necessary in order to get them the help they need.
This is where many drug treatment centers, especially those with a dual-diagnosis program, come in to help. Drug treatment facilities are tailor made to deal with the suicide problem that faces the drug addict or alcoholic. They specialize in helping the drug addict or alcoholic get sober, and for those who’s suicidal ideation is driven by the belief that they will never be able to get sober, getting this sort of treatment can do wonders. Just being able to see that there is light at the end of the tunnel has helped a dramatic amount of suicidal addicts regain their hope, ensuring that they would not give up.
Besides this the fact that many patients at drug treatment facilities live at the facility for the duration of their stay means that during the most difficult and dangerous time of their lives, they will be under 24 hours supervision. This is something that is often not afforded those people just seeing a therapist once a week and this added level of support can help the addict on the fence about whether they want to continue to live, get over the hump.
If the person is suffering from an underlying mental condition, besides addiction, that is contributing to their suicidal ideation then while they are in a drug treatment facility, they will be able to get the proper medication and receive the correct counseling in order to deal with this. No matter what factors are contributing to the suicidal ideation experienced by the drug addict or alcoholic, a drug treatment center will be able to address these issues and help the individual overcome their demons, allowing them to enjoy their lives again, thus preventing another potential, unnecessary, and tragic death.
About the author:
Rose Lockinger is passionate member of the recovery community. A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise the awareness about the disease of addiction. She has visited all over North and South America. Single mom to two beautiful children she has learned parenting is without a doubt the most rewarding job in the world. Currently the Outreach Director at Stodzy Internet Marketing.