Addiction and its Effect on Suicide
Addiction and suicide sometimes, unfortunately, goes hand and hand. A person caught in the depths of addiction can often times see no way out and as a result, believe that their only option is to commit suicide. This is always an extremely sad thing to hear, not only because of the loss, but also because a solution to their problems laid just outside their grasp, closer than they may have even known.
However, the connection between addiction and suicide runs deeper than just addicted people feeling they have no way out and many times suicide attempts among addicted populations are the result of co-existing mental health issues that have gone undiagnosed. Alongside suicide another co-existing mental health issue is trauma and abuse which when treated appropriately can lead to successful recovery.
For many years drug addiction and mental health issues were treated as completely separate entities and one was treated without taking the other into consideration. This means that many people who suffered from addiction were only treated for their addiction and were never made aware that they had other underlying problems exacerbating their substance abuse. When this occurred these people often were led back to a drink or drug in order to deal with the symptoms of their mental illness, and if left untreated for long enough, their risk for suicide would rise dramatically.
Taking all of this into account and understanding what it is like to be in the grips of addiction it is no wonder that research has shown that one of the strongest predictors of suicide is addiction. This means that people who suffer from an addiction of some sort are at a higher risk of committing suicide than any other population in the world. As if addicts didn’t have it bad enough, with everything that they have to suffer while in active addiction, they also have to worry about the possibility that if they do not get the help they need, they could very well wind up attempting suicide.
This threat is something that almost everyone in sobriety knows about, because if you have been to more than a handful of meetings in recovery, then you have probably heard at least a dozen people discuss the fact that they attempted suicide at one point or another, and it makes sense. Being in active addiction feels like such a hopeless condition that many times I myself thought that taking my life was the only answer. I couldn’t see an option that involved me continuing to live and I couldn’t see how I was going to get sober. It seemed beyond my own fathoming and so I believed that death was a welcome alternative.
At the time I didn’t know it, but certain attributes that I had in my active addiction contributed to my feeling this way and likewise contribute to the reason why there is such a high correlation between addiction and suicide.
One of the main contributing factors to the link between suicide and addiction is the isolation that many people in addiction experience. Research shows that one of the best ways to help combat suicidal ideation is through strong social bonds. During active addiction, many people experience a complete deterioration of their social relationships and because of this they often wind up alone. Beside this, alcoholism and addiction seeks to isolate the person from their loved ones so that it can continue to grow unimpeded. Once a person is isolated from social connection their risk for committing suicide increases dramatically and so it stands to reason that people within the throes of addiction are more likely to commit suicide than other people.
Another factor that contributes to the link between suicide and addiction is an inability to get and stay sober, which leads to feelings of utter hopelessness. Getting sober is not a particularly easy task and many people do not achieve long-term sobriety on their first attempt. For people who continue to go in and out of recovery, this can lead to complete feelings of hopelessness, which can result in thinking that the program will not work for them. While the 12 Steps may not be an answer for everyone, there are a plethora of other options available for getting sober and no addict, no matter how far gone there are, is incapable of achieving sobriety. That being said, a person who just can’t seem to get and stay sober may start to believe that they are beyond hope and that they are doomed to a life of addiction. Feeling this way can lead someone to attempt to take their own life because they start to feel that it is an easier alternative.
Over 90 percent of people who commit suicide have some sort of mental illness at the time of their death, and the most prevalent mental illness among these people is depression. Depression is something that many alcoholics and addicts are well acquainted with and if this is left untreated then not only is their ability to achieve sobriety at jeopardy, but their life may be at risk as well.
Fortunately, suicide does not need to be an option for those who suffer from addiction and it is preventable with the appropriate treatment. So if you are currently struggling with your addiction, and suicide is beginning to seem more and more like a viable option, know that there is help out there and you are not alone. You can call the National Suicide Prevention Line at. If you feel that this is not enough then you can go to your local emergency room and inform them that you are thinking of committing suicide and they will be able to get you the help that you need.
If the driving motivator for your suicidal thoughts is your addiction then you may also want to look into attending a drug treatment facility, where you can learn how to overcome your addiction and begin a new life free from the pain and despair that is addiction. I know how hard all of this can be, but suicide is never the answer, especially with the amount of help that is out there today.
Rose Lockinger is a 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.
You can find her on LinkedIn, Facebook, & Instagram. For more stories on addiction and mental illness recovery, check out the Rise2Recovery podcast.