a person looks sad about the hidden risk of substance abuse

Is Suicide a Hidden Risk of Substance Abuse?

There are many risks and dangers associated with substance abuse: brain damage, addiction, cancer, and others. What most people don’t consider when they first start using is the hidden risk of substance abuse—self-harm and suicide. If you knew that you might end your own life, would you have tried using drugs in the first place? Hopefully, when more people understand this serious risk, more will choose never to use drugs. 

If you struggle with addiction, it is not too late to get help. Finding a substance use disorder treatment center like Recovery Ranch TN could help you get on the road to recovery and rediscover the joy of life without drugs or alcohol. If you need addiction help, our compassionate team is ready to help you. Contact us online using our confidential form, or call 1.844.876.7680 to speak with someone today. 

Facts About Suicide and Substance Abuse

One of the most dominant risk factors for suicide is substance abuse. Often, someone struggling with substance abuse will use their drug of choice in suicide attempts. 

  • Poisoning is the third-most common suicide method. 
  • 75% percent of these suicides by poisoning involved a drug or alcohol, as opposed to some other substance such as carbon monoxide. 
  • Many poisoning suicides included both drugs and alcohol. 
  • Prescriptions are the most common drugs used in suicide attempts. 

Statistics involving drugs and suicide may be even more alarming than the current facts. When someone overdoses on a drug, it can be challenging to determine whether it was accidental or intentional. Unless they left a note or spoke to someone about their intentions, the assumption is usually accidental. This means that many deaths ruled accidents may have been suicides.

A Complicated Relationship

Based on the facts, experts know that suicide and substance abuse are linked. What they don’t know for sure is exactly why this relationship exists. There are many ideas, but the research is limited and making definite conclusions is difficult. Substance abuse is a strong risk factor for suicide. It comes second only to having a mood disorder, like depression. 

A Loss of Hope

Drugs are mind-altering substances. They can make you think and feel things you wouldn’t otherwise. Becoming addicted can cause you to lose several important things and people in your life. This can lead to depression and feelings of hopelessness that might then lead to suicide attempts. It may be this loss of hope, a feeling of having no other options, and having lost everything at the root of most substance abuse-based suicides. 

Co-Occurring Conditions

Another consideration is the connection between substance abuse and mental health. Drug and alcohol use can trigger symptoms of mental illness, including depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorders. These are the most significant risk factors for suicide, so substance abuse may lead to suicide in a roundabout manner. Also, people with existing but untreated mental health disorders may use substances to self-medicate. The combination of using drugs and avoiding treatment could exacerbate the condition and further lead to suicidal thoughts. 

A Lack of Awareness

While both substance abuse and mental health carry a stigma, suicide may be the bigger taboo. This could explain why it has remained a hidden risk of substance abuse. It is time to stop ignoring this issue and recognize that people abusing substances face a very serious and real risk of dying by suicide. Prevention, education, and awareness would all go a long way toward preventing such deaths. Diagnosis and treatment of substance use disorders and mental illnesses are also needed to help those at risk for suicide.

Recognizing the Hidden Risk of Substance Abuse

Substance abuse is a serious issue, but it is essential to remember that most people who abuse drugs or alcohol will not attempt suicide. However, there are warning signs that someone may be considering harming themselves. If you see any of the following warning signs in yourself or someone you care about, don’t hesitate to reach out for help.

  • Talking about wanting to die or hurt oneself
  • Expressing feelings of hopelessness
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Increasing alcohol or drug abuse
  • Withdrawing from friends and activities
  • Abnormal mood swings
  • Giving away prized possessions

If you are worried that someone may hurt themselves, the best thing to do is to talk to them about it. If they express feelings of self-harm or suicide, find help immediately. Call 911 in an emergency, and text or call 988 to reach the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.

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