The Link Between Suicide and Substance Use Disorder

Suicirsz_istock_000001170662_largede is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States [1], but for people dealing with a substance use disorder, suicide risk is profoundly increased. In fact, those with substance use disorder face suicide as the number-one cause of death [2], making this population six times more likely to commit suicide than those without a substance use disorder [3].

Conditions that can flare or develop during a cycle of drug use are commonly depression and mood disorders, which are also the conditions that pose the highest risk for suicide. When an individual uses drugs and alcohol, emotions are intensified— positive feelings can bring a heightened euphoria while depressive feelings can bring intense despair. This mental state of dejection is what leads to the attempt or completion of self-inflicted death.

Interestingly, thoughts of suicide have also been seen to remain even after drugs have worn off. The effects of drug withdrawal may trigger suicidal thoughts due to the physical discomforts associated with withdrawal and depression caused by the depletion of “happy” neurotransmitters during an individual’s use.

Substance use can increase the risk of suicide in many different ways. There are different rates of suicide associated with specific drug use disorders, especially in regards to the use of opioids and alcohol.

  • Those with opiate use disorder are 14 times more likely to complete suicide [3].
  • Women with alcohol use disorders are 20 times more likely to complete suicide [3].
  • Men with alcohol use disorders are 4 times more likely to complete suicide [3].

Suicide prevention for someone with a substance use disorder begins with treatment. Gateway uses evidenced-based treatments to solve the underlying issues of an entire range of problems, including substance use disorder, depressive disorders, and suicidal ideation. Learn more about Gateway’s specialized co-occurring treatment programs at https://recovergateway.org/gateway/drug-rehab/Co-Occurring-Treatment/

 

[1] CDC Web Based Inquiry Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS), 2015.

[2] Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, 2008.

[3] The National Center for Biotechnology Information, 2015.

About Gateway Foundation Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers
Every year Gateway Foundation Alcohol & Drug Treatment helps thousands of adults and teens get their life back on track and gives renewed hope to those who care about them. With 50 years of treatment experience, our specialists take the time to understand of the specific needs of each individual. We then develop a customized treatment plan with recommendations for the most appropriate care based on an individual's substance abuse and mental health history. As the largest provider of alcohol and drug abuse treatment in Illinois, Gateway has 11 treatment centers throughout the state. Gateway outpatient and residential substance abuse treatment programs are not one-size fits all, but unique treatment plans that give an individual the highest chance for a successful outcome. With insurance acceptance and a track record of success, Gateway Treatment Centers help thousands of individual’s successfully complete treatment each year, and find the hope they need to live again.

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