Substance Abuse & Suicide: An Imbalance in the Brain
The consequences of substance abuse alone cause lives to spiral out of control. The damage done by abusing drugs and alcohol can result in an individual having frequent thoughts and feelings of hopelessness, which can lead to suicidal ideations, which can then turn into suicide attempts. ABTRS wants you to get help if you are having persistent thoughts of suicide and you are abusing drugs and/or alcohol. We need you to know that it is not your fault, the chemical imbalance in your brain is responsible.
It is known that compared to the general population, people who are treated for alcohol abuse are at a 10 times greater risk to commit suicide. Individuals who are suffering from a co-occurring mental health and substance use disorder are at an even higher risk of suicide. Substance abuse, depression, and suicide related behaviors all play an intricate role with one another like a triangle, one factor leading to the other.
Depression can lead to substance abuse and substance abuse can lead to depression which ultimately can lead to suicide related behavior and ideations. Unfortunately, many will not seek treatment or even speak up about their suicidal ideations due to the stigmas surrounding it.
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How Common is Suicide & Why is it Important to Reach Out?
It is the 10th leading cause of death worldwide. Suicide accounted for 828,000 deaths globally in 2015 alone. Across the board, it is mainly caused by an ongoing escalation of hopeless thoughts and feelings. Risk factors include various mental health and substance abuse disorders.
Individuals experiencing difficult circumstances in their life may not see a way out and will begin to see suicide as a good option. The real danger comes when suicide doesn’t only look like a good option, but the one and only option. Metaphorically, it is almost like the individual is trapped in a dark room and they finally see a light that points to the way out- and that light is suicide.
Those who commit suicide may not understand the full implications that taking their own life will have, especially on their loved ones. An individual who commits suicide is usually not intentionally trying to hurt anyone, but are trying to escape from deep emotional pain and mental turmoil. Leading up to a suicide attempt an individual may display indicative behaviors but many times there can be no signs at all.
A Better Today Recovery Services understands the need to move past the stigma and have open arms for those who are having suicidal thoughts. We understand the connection between suicide and substance abuse and continue to offer effective treatment that is proven to saves lives.
Signs of Suicidal Thoughts: Before Thoughts Become Actions
Many people wonder what are the signs displayed when an individual is suicidal. Well, sometimes there aren’t any. In many cases, the person will seem to be normal, even smiling and laughing. Deep inside, other things are going on that are not being displayed on the surface.
Others do show some signs and may say things like, “It would just be better if I was dead.” The problem with this is that despite these declarations, loved ones may brush it off and ignore the signs. They may even speculate that their loved one is simply attention seeking or being dramatic.
More signs that may be displayed are frequently talking about death, showing signs of depression, dangerous risk-taking behavior, loss of interests, making comments about being hopeless, putting affairs in order such as changing a will, mood swings, talking about suicide or calling and visiting people to say goodbye.
These signs should be taken seriously, especially if the individual has made an attempt on their life in the past. If signs are recognized and addressed early, it can help provide a better outcome. An individual who is suicidal needs mental health intervention along with family support and understanding.
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Why Does Substance Abuse Make a Person Vulnerable to Suicide?
Substance abuse can turn a person’s world upside down. It is said that those with substance use disorders are six times more likely to commit suicide than the general population. During active addiction, some become vulnerable and are at high risk for suicidal ideation.
The first few weeks of substance abuse treatment can also be challenging as all the feelings, thoughts and emotions that a person has numbed with Alcohol and/or drugs may come bubbling to the surface. They may feel that their situation is hopeless and become unable to cope with the deep buried pain that is surfacing. They may realize the damage that substance abuse has had on their life and these realizations may contribute to thoughts and feelings of hopelessness.
Suicidal ideations can be worse for those suffering from a co-occurring mental health and substance use disorder. History of physical, mental, emotional or sexual abuse are also high-risk factors for suicide. The good news is that if an individual decides to enter treatment and get the help they need, they will receive therapy that may very well save their lives, so that they can walk away from drugs and begin recovery.
How Can ABTRS Prevent Substance Abuse Related Suicidal Thoughts?
Prevention begins with treatment. The link between substance abuse and suicide is close, but many times, is overlooked. Prevention begins with listening and acting. Do not brush off or dismiss a loved one when they are stating that they want to take their lives. In fact, if your loved one is threatening suicide please refer to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. If you are seeing signs now, don’t wait until it’s too late.
Another key component to prevention is taking substance abuse out of the picture. If an individual continues to use drugs and Alcohol, their life will not improve Getting an individual into a medically supervised treatment center should be one of the first steps to take for prevention in this case. Ideally, after a successful completion drug and alcohol treatment program, an individual will begin to change their perspective and gain some healthy optimism and insights about life.
A good treatment center will also take into consideration other aspects of mental health, such as co-occurring disorders of depression, which can contribute to an individual having suicidal ideations. People with suicidal ideations can benefit from treatments offered such as psychotherapy and cognitive behavioral therapy.
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Suicide accounted for 828,000 deaths globally in 2015 alone.
What is the Stigma Surrounding Suicide & Substance Abuse?
So, suicide has a stigma, what does that mean? It means that a person who is considering taking their own life may not likely open up about their suicidal ideations when they are having them. It means that when a person does die by suicide, their family and friends may have to deal with individuals saying things that are demeaning and unhelpful.
The stigma surrounding substance abuse is equally as bad, because it is completely misunderstood. Now, if a person is using drugs and feeling suicidal, there is a wall of stigma that they will have to break through just to open up about what is going on and reach out for help. Education and understanding is the best way to end the stigma.
It is important to understand that what a suicidal individual needs is love, compassion, understanding and immediate help. Towards the climax of suicidal ideations leading to the attempt, many survivors describe an almost tunnel vision with constant thoughts of how they are going to kill themselves and why it is the best idea. It is imperative at these times to put aside stigma and choose to show love and understanding.
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Suicide Should Not be the Last Thing You Do: Explore Your Options From Reliable Sources
At ABTRS, we believe it is important to use reputable sources when communicating with our patients, their families, and potential clientele. Therefore, we have built all our information, statistics, treatment modalities, and practices on reliable resources that are supported by data, scientific methodology and/or testing. A strong foundation for recovery should be built upon knowledge that is impartial, not funded by organizations that could benefit from certain outcomes, and proven or tested to be effective for substance abuse treatment and aftercare. Below are the sources used to construct the content on our website and any and all written material from ABTRS. We will continue to try to provide our patients and their families with reputable sources that are up to date and relevant.
Store.samhsa.gov. (2019). National Strategy for Suicide Prevention 2012: How You Can Play a Role in Preventing Suicide | SAMHSA Publications. [online] Available at: https://store.samhsa.gov/product/national-strategy-suicide-prevention-2012-how-you-can-play-role-preventing-suicide/pep12 [Accessed 14 Feb. 2019].
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2015). Substance Use and Suicide: A Nexus Requiring a Public Health Approach. In Brief.
Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. Addressing Suicidal Thoughts and Behaviors in Substance Abuse Treatment. Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 50. HHS Publication No. (SMA) 154381. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2009.