The Connection of Addiction and Suicide

Addiction is a serious and life-threatening disorder that can have many adverse effects on an individual’s mental and physical health. Addiction is a chronic, relapsing disease, characterized by compulsive drug seeking and required excessive amounts of substance use, even in light of negative consequences. Unfortunately, addiction is also often associated with suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Many people may struggle with addiction for extended periods of time before reaching out for help, and during this time, they may be more likely to experience suicidal ideation and attempt suicide.

Suicide is a global public health crisis, with rates increasing substantially over the past few decades. It is the second leading cause of death among adolescents and adults in the United States and is linked to a variety of contributing factors, including mental illness, physical health conditions, substance abuse, loss and trauma. Research suggests that substance abuse is a significant factor, and among individuals who struggle with addiction, the risk of suicide may be even higher than in the general population.

Studies show that in people struggling with addiction, the risk of suicide is four to seven times higher than in the general population. The link between addiction and suicide may be due to the various emotional and physical health effects caused by substance abuse. For instance, addiction can lead to feelings of hopelessness, grief and shame, which can increase the risk of suicidal ideation. It can also lead to a significant deterioration in physical health and may cause a person to feel overwhelmed and unable to cope. Furthermore, substance abuse can significantly affect an individual’s functioning, leading to social isolation, relationship problems, and financial stress, all of which may contribute to suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

It is essential for those struggling with substance abuse to understand the various risk factors associated with addiction and suicide. While addiction is a complex disorder, it is important to be aware of the possible connection to thoughts of self-harm and suicide. It is equally important to understand that suicidal ideation is common amongst individuals who struggle with addiction, and the potential risk can be managed and reduced.

One of the most important ways to reduce the risk of suicide is to seek help. Professional treatment for addiction can help an individual address the underlying causes of their substance abuse and learn how to cope with its effects. Treatment may involve behavioral therapy, pharmacotherapy, or a combination, as well as psychotherapy to address emotional and psychological issues. Additionally, recovery support groups can be a great source of comfort and validation, and participating in activities that bring pleasure or connection can also help reduce the risk of suicide.

It is important to remember that addiction is a treatable illness and that recovery is possible. With proper treatment and support, individuals can address their substance use disorder, learn to cope with their emotions, and move towards a healthier, more fulfilling life. It is also important to understand that addiction increases the risk of suicide, and to recognize the signs of suicidal ideation. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction or displaying signs of suicidal thoughts, seek help right away.

The Tragic Link between Substance Abuse and Suicide

The increased prevalence of suicide in the United States has been well documented in recent years. The latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that suicide in the US has risen by 30% from 1999 to 2016, reaching an all-time high in 2016. What’s often overlooked, though, is the tight connection between substance abuse and suicide. An estimated one-fifth of people who die by suicide in the US are under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time.

The link between drug abuse and suicidal ideation is complex. Drugs can alter the way an individual’s brain works, affecting their emotions, cognition, impulse control, and decision making. This can lead to feelings of hopelessness and despair that are common precursors to suicidal ideation. People who are already struggling with mental health issues, or who have a history of depression, are particularly susceptible to the negative effects of drug abuse. This is especially true of young people – adolescents and young adults often experiment with drugs during a period of time when they might already be more emotionally vulnerable and at risk of contemplating suicide.

Substance abuse is also closely associated with increased rates of interpersonal violence, financial strain, and relationship problems – all of which can be additional triggers for suicidal behaviors. Substance abuse also affects an individual’s physical health and can make a person more likely to consider attempting suicide. Furthermore, research has suggested that chronic substance abuse can create a mental health breakdown in an individual, with intense emotional and psychological legacies that may lead them to contemplate suicide.

The connection between substance abuse and suicidal ideation is not a one-way street, either. In addition to being a major risk factor for suicide, individuals who have already been hospitalized for a suicide attempt are more likely to start abusing drugs or alcohol compared to those who have never made an attempt. This compounding of risk factors is a vicious cycle that produces higher levels of drug abuse and an increased risk of suicide.

Given the prevalence of substance abuse among those who contemplate and attempt suicide, it’s essential to focus on prevention and early intervention strategies. In the case of substance abuse, this should involve a combination of education, treatment, and support. Therapeutic interventions should focus on helping individuals to both reduce their substance use and develop the coping skills and problem-solving strategies necessary to prevent further drug abuse and future suicide attempts.

The tragic link between substance abuse and suicide is one of the greatest public health challenges of our time. It’s essential that those on the frontlines be given the necessary tools to prevent and manage these risk factors, particularly among young people who are more likely to use drugs and grapple with suicidal thoughts. By taking a more holistic and proactive approach to substance abuse and mental health, we can reduce the risk of suicide for all individuals and reduce the devastating toll of substance abuse and suicide in our society.

Substance Abuse and Suicide, What is the Connection?

It has been well established that substance abuse and suicide are two of the most common causes of death in the United States. While it can be hard to come to terms with, the fact is that these two serious issues are deeply intertwined, and even related in some cases. The connection between substance abuse and suicide is one that must be better understood in order to help those who suffer from either of these issues get the help they need.

Substance abuse and suicide are linked in several ways. First, substance abuse increases the risk of suicide and vice versa. This means that those who engage in substance abuse are more likely to attempt to take their own lives, and those who are already at risk of suicide are more likely to resort to substance abuse as a way to cope with their distress. In addition, substance abuse can make suicide attempts more lethal. For example, alcohol consumption can lead to greater impulsivity and increased motor skills, leading to more successful suicide attempts.

Furthermore, mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia are known to increase the risk of both substance abuse and suicide. People suffering from these disorders may be more likely to self-medicate through the use of drugs or alcohol in order to alleviate their suffering, and the side effects of these substances can further compound their distress. This can make them more likely to attempt suicide, and use of substances can make these attempts more successful.

The connection between substance abuse and suicide can also increase the risk of death. Substance abuse can result in serious physical health problems, such as cirrhosis of the liver, hepatitis, and heart disease, which can later lead to death. Substance abuse also gives rise to accidental deaths due to drinking and driving or other accidents related to the use of drugs or alcohol. Furthermore, suicide can have lingering mental health effects on those who are close to the deceased, such as depression and anxiety, which increases the risk of suicide tendency in those individuals.

Finally, substance abuse and suicide are linked due to social and environmental factors. People who live in communities with higher rates of poverty and lower levels of education may be more likely to engage in substance abuse, which can increase the risk of suicidal thoughts and actions. Additionally, those who have lost family members to suicide or substance abuse are more likely to suffer from depressive symptoms, which can lead to substance abuse and suicidal ideation.

It is important to keep in mind that not all people who experience substance abuse or suicidal thoughts will ultimately act on them. However, for those who do, the consequences can be very serious, and even deadly. Therefore, it is vital to be aware of the connection between substance abuse and suicide in order to provide the right treatment and support to those who need it. Seeking treatment for depression, anxiety, or substance abuse is one way to reduce the risk of suicide, as well as establishing a close bond with a close family member or friend who can provide help and support.

Overall, it is important to be mindful of the connection between substance abuse and suicide. This can help us to better support those who are struggling with either of these issues, and potentially save lives in the long-term.

A Growing Menace in Our Society

Substance abuse is an ever-increasing problem in our society as more and more people turn to drugs and alcohol in order to cope with their problems or to seek out a quick fix. Substance abuse can lead to a variety of health and social problems, including physical and mental health issues, poverty, crime and death. It is estimated that every year, substance abuse costs the U.S. $600 billion, and this does not include the indirect costs resulting from unemployment, homelessness and domestic violence attributed to substance abuse.

There are many factors that contribute to, and cause, substance abuse. Poverty and unemployment contribute to the problem, as people with limited economic resources may turn to drugs as a way of getting money or feeling better. Mental health issues such as depression and anxiety can also be a cause of drug and alcohol misuse. People with mental health problems may use substances as a way to cope with their feelings.

Substance abuse is a serious health risk. It can lead to an increase in health care costs, a decrease in life expectancy, and an increase in risky behavior, such as intravenous drug use. Substance abusers are more prone to accidents, crime and other social ills. People who misuse drugs and alcohol also place a strain on health care services due to problems such as infectious diseases such as hepatitis and HIV, as well as increased hospitalization and medical costs.

It is important to recognize the early signs of substance abuse in order to prevent the situation from getting worse. Signs of substance abuse include changes in behavior, mood swings, fatigue, memory loss, difficulty concentrating and managing everyday responsibilities. If a family member or friend is exhibiting these signs, it is important to talk to them about possible drug and alcohol abuse.

Substance abuse can be prevented through early education about the dangers of drug use. This should start at an early age in school and continue through adulthood. Risk reduction education should involve explaining the consequences of substance abuse and giving people the tools to make informed decisions. Additionally, substance abuse prevention initiatives can include providing access to mental health services, offering support groups and vocational counseling to help people find employment.

Substance abuse is an ever-growing burden on families and communities. It is important for people to be informed about the dangers of substance abuse, to recognize the signs of use, and to take steps to prevent substance abuse in their own lives, and in the lives of those close to them. Through education, prevention, and proper treatment, we can help combat the substance abuse crisis and improve the quality of lives of those affected.

Addiction treatment to prevent the risk of suicide

Addiction is a harmful and obsessive disorder that does not get better over time except if the individual seeks treatment. Both types of addiction- substance and behavioral addiction, can make someone commit suicide if care is not taken.

For instance, someone who is addicted to gambling can begin to consider taking their life after numerous losses. It might get worse when they run into a serious financial crisis because of their gambling habit.

Therefore, to reduce the risk of suicide, it is important to solve the addiction problem that the individual is struggling with.

Free Young pensive model preparing for stepping off edge of wall Stock Photo

The first step is for the individual to acknowledge that they have an addiction problem, this will help them to be proactive with the counselor and therapist when receiving treatment.

It will make them open to the various treatment options at their disposal, and it would be easy for them to cooperate when receiving treatment.

If the person’s addiction is substance-related, they might have to undergo detoxification depending on the severity of the addiction.

Detoxification is the removal of waste substances in the body that can cause unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.

If the person was addicted to certain behaviors, they will have to undergo counseling and behavioral therapies. This might be a one-on-one interaction, group, or with the family depending on the treatment needs of the individual.

Some of the common therapies are cognitive-behavioral therapy, multi-dimensional family therapy, motivational interviewing, etc.

Another addiction treatment phase is rehabilitation programs. These programs are usually long-term, and they are targeted at helping the individual treat other underlying problems like suicidal ideation.

After rehabilitation programs, it is expected that these individuals live an addiction-free life with stable mental health that allows them to fulfill their various responsibilities.

Some of the common types of rehabilitation programs are short-term residential treatment, therapeutic communities, and recovery housing.

The last stage is aftercare treatment, where the individual still keeps receiving treatment to keep them sober and prevent them from relapsing.  

Counseling tips for those with suicidal thoughts

When people harbor thoughts about committing suicide, the medical term is called Suicidal ideation. This means that the person might have flashes about suicide from time to time. Or they may develop these thoughts into a plan that helps them to take their lives.

According to studies, not everyone with suicidal thoughts ends up taking their lives by suicide. Rather, such people are suffering from mental health problems like depression, anxiety, insomnia, etc.

Not everyone with mental illnesses experiences suicidal ideation, but some of them do. When someone begins to have suicidal thoughts, it is important to seek help before it materializes into reality.

Free Woman Crying Stock Photo

One of the ways to get started is by going through the counseling phase. The beauty of receiving counseling is, it helps you unravel the root cause of anything you’re experiencing.

Therefore, anyone having suicidal ideation needs to first understand the reason, and counseling helps with better clarification.

When you understand why it becomes easier to follow through with any subsequent treatments you will receive.

It is the responsibility of the counselor to create an effective plan that includes coping methods for the patient so that they don’t end up taking their lives. These coping methods will help the patient to resist any urge of self-harm that might come up, especially when they are alone.

Also, counseling helps the individual with suicidal thoughts to be more united with their loved ones.

Most times, people think of committing suicide when they are not on close terms with their family and friends like before.

Some of them might be on bad terms which caused a temporary separation.

Hence, the counselor helps to mend every rift between the patient and their loved ones, so that they can be there for each other.

Additionally, the counselor gives the individual quintessential tips on how to live a healthy life, which reduces the chances of suicidal ideation. These tips include exercising, eating a healthy diet, sleeping regularly, taking enough water, etc.

How addiction increases the risk of suicide

When someone makes the choice to end their lives, it stems from a sad, desperate and dark place.

The good news is, suicide can be prevented. No matter how bad the condition or situation is, there are resourced that are designed and structured to help people who are struggling with suicide thoughts.

Addiction is just one of the many factors that causes suicide. And people often get addicted in a bid to suppress sad events like loss, failure and the likes. More so, people who face family issues and exhibit mental health problems get addicted while trying to suppress their negative feelings.

Initially, when these individuals start taking drugs or alcohol and they get addicted, it becomes a habit which is a means to a temporary escape. When they continue using these substances, various aspects of their personal lives begins to fall before their eyes as they strive to escape.

When you identify the signs of addiction and depression, it becomes helpful to assist the individual to pull out of the negative emotion plaguing him or her.

There is no one who has not experienced sad feelings before. Life has a way of making us lose interests in various things when we are sad. However, for depression, it is more than a sad feeling.

Depression is a common mood disorder that affects the way you think, act and feel towards yourself and the world at large.

Interestingly, not everyone who is depressed turns to substance abuse and addiction. However, the percentage of people who do this, is high.

When the individual begins to rely on alcohol and drugs, there are some red flags that begin to surface such as mood swings, irritation, insomnia and the likes.  

Addiction and suicidal thoughts thrive from each other. And this is why it is important that people who are addicted should get help from addiction counselors and therapists. It is not easy to deal with suicidal thoughts but with the right provision of help, it would be a thing of the past.

The common causes of suicide

Often times, when people who are close to us commit suicide, it is hard to imagine what must have led to it. You might feel that the signs were not there but the truth is, these signs are there but they were hidden to the ordinary eyes.

Below are some possible causes of suicide

Mental Illness

Before people commit suicide, they plan out the whole process extensively. Even though there are several reasons why people commit suicide, the common one is severe depression. Depression can make an individual feel immense emotional pain that they would see dying as the only way out.

Traumatic stress

Another reason people commit suicide is due to traumatic happenings that occurred sometimes back. For some people, it was physical abuse, rape, war trauma and the likes. The surprising fact about traumatic stress is, the individual can still experience the trauma even after many years.

This traumatic stress is popularly referred to as post-traumatic stress disorder and it sometimes happens alongside with depression.

Substance abuse

Individuals who are feeling suicidal are at risk of committing suicide if drugs and alcohol use is introduced into the picture. This would make them react impulsively than usual. Most times, when people go through hard times at work, relationships and the likes, they begin to abuse drugs and alcohol thinking it would help them ease the pain.

The sad part about it is, it eases the pain temporarily. In the long run, the individual would discover the pain was just suppressed and not totally eased.

Loss of fear or failure

Sometimes, when people fail, they find it difficult to believe that they survive that period. This is why people take their lives because it is usually hard to fathom. People who experience academic failure, imprisonment, financial problems amongst others are likely to commit suicide.

There are other causes of suicide like hopelessness, social isolation, chronic pain and the likes. If you are having thoughts of committing suicide, it is imperative that you see a mental health counselor.


Suicide refers to the intentional act of taking your life based on your personal actions. In the medical field across most countries, it is one of the most wide-spread health epidemics.

There is a strong connection between depression, addiction and suicide. A good number of people who commit suicide, suffer from depression.

Substance abuse and depression combine to form a vicious cycle, which eventually leads to suicide.

A good number of people who have severe depression such as obsessive compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder and the likes, usually turn to gambling, drugs and alcohol.

With these, they get involved in risky behaviors in order to take away their negative feelings.

Substance abuse and addiction intensify the strictness and length of the depressive routes, irrespective of any momentary relief provided.

This in turn enhances the likelihood of suicidal thoughts. This is intensified by the fact that addiction regularly destroys one’s profession, financial relationships, and personal lives, which in turn increases the chance of suicide.

Each suicide case is very different, and even though two addiction cases would have the same cause, it is not peculiar to two individuals. Each person who considers suicide have some warning signs which they exhibit.

Warning signs are exhibits which the victim shows for a long period of time, before they give in to suicide. Some of them do not show warning signs in public.

One of the usual warning signs for suicide is expressing a longing for death. There are times when individuals just feel like dying, due to the fact that they are tired of the problems which comes with life.

So, at one point or the other, they will express a desire for death.

In addition, another essential warning sign is isolation from family and friends. They would distance themselves from their loved ones, so that they would not know what they are up to.

Other warning signs include:

  • Avoiding social events
  • Heavy alcohol and drug use
  • Hopelessness
  • Reckless behavior’
  • Insomnia
  • Expressing trapped feelings
  • Excess irritability
  • Abandoning sources of enjoyment



Fig. 1.1: Suicidal threat intervention steps (source: slide

Intervening suicide threats has to start with understanding frequently misunderstood issues pertaining to suicidal thought. These issues include;


The number of suicidal threats is far greater than the number of suicidal acts and most such threats are not followed by an actual suicide. But attempted or completed suicides are often preceded by one or more suicidal threats, so each threat has to be taken seriously. Research indicates that up to 80% of suicidal people signal their intentions to others, in the hope that the signal will be recognized as a cry for help. These signals often include making a joke or threat about suicide or making a reference to being dead. If we do take them seriously and ask them if they mean what they are saying, the worst that can happen is we will learn that they really were joking. Not asking could result in a far worse outcome.



Well-meaning friends, family members, first responders, and even some clinicians may avoid asking a subject about suicidal ideation for fear of “putting ideas in her head”. In fact, just the opposite is usually true. There is no research evidence that indicates talking to people about suicide, in the context of care, respect, and prevention increases their risk of suicidal ideation or suicidal behaviors. Research does indicate that talking openly and responsibly about suicide lets a potentially suicidal person know they do not have to be alone, that there are people who want to listen and who want to help. Most people are relieved to finally be able to talk honestly about their feelings, and this alone can reduce the risk of an attempt.



Sometimes it is and sometimes it isn’t. It is difficult for most people to relate to the excruciating mental pain that would drive a person to end his or her life, especially if, to our eyes, the situation “isn’t all that bad,” or the person seems to “have everything to live for.” But a clinically depressed person who is overwhelmed by despair and hopelessness may not possess the rational perspective we might have when confronted with a similar challenge. In the depressed state, negatives are magnified and positives are discounted.





Sometimes it is, in which case there is hardly sufficient time to intervene because the person completes the act with little or no warning. A sudden traumatic event may be the ‘trigger’ event that moves a person to end their life, but it is unlikely the only cause. Suicides can appear to happen fast, or “out of nowhere,” when we have not noticed any indications of a person’s suicidality. Although most people (80%) present a range of indicators to the people around them, few of us have been educated to recognize these warning signs and we miss them. It is likely that many suicides could be prevented if we educated ourselves about the immediate, short-term, and long-term indicators of suicidal risk, as well as how to reach out and get effective help for someone who is letting us know they are in serious distress.



In most cases, suicide does not just occur in an emotional vacuum but takes place in the context of a history of mood disturbances and erratic behavior. Indeed, a high proportion of suicide attempters have had at least some prior contact with the mental health and/or legal systems. Knowing the subject’s history of mental illness is important mainly for predicting what kind of post-crisis life that person will be going back to, and thereby formulating an intervention strategy that really takes this variable into account. While the presence of an unmanaged mental health issue is strongly associated with suicide, it is important to note that most people assessed with a mental illness are not at risk of suicide and that few suicides are wholly the result of a mental illness.