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.




Substance use abuse, including the use of cigarette, alcohol, marijuana, and other illegal drugs, is a type of risky behavior among adolescents and young adults, while suicidal ideation is defined as thoughts of harming or killing oneself (Institute of Medicine, 2002).

The most common situations or life events that might cause suicidal thoughts are grief, sexual abuse, financial problems, remorse, rejection, a relationship breakup, and unemployment.

Fig. 1.1: A Bar chart showing the relationship between substance abuse and thoughts of suicide (

Substance use and suicidal ideation often co-exist, with higher rates of suicidal ideation among substance users than nonusers. Abusing drugs, especially depressants such as alcohol or sedatives, can trigger symptoms of depression, increasing the risk of suicide. As the consequences of addiction pile up, from legal problems and damaged relationships to financial ruin and job loss, individuals may lose all hope that things can get better.

Substance use may increase the risk of suicide ideation because substance use may induce depressed feelings, decrease abilities of cognitive processing and problem solving, and influence important relationships and school/work performance (Bagge and Sher, 2008). Anyone who experiences low lows (bipolar disorder) and attempts to mitigate those feelings with alcohol and drugs is at an increased risk of suicide attempts. In fact, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) says that substance abuse is one of the top risk factors for suicide.

Secondly, although less considered, suicidal ideation may increase the risk of substance use (Bagge and Sher, 2008). Many people abuse drugs or alcohol in an attempt to relieve the symptoms of depression, anxiety or other mental health conditions. For some, it starts to seem like there are only two paths to relief: abusing substances or death.

People with substance use disorders are about six times more likely to commit suicide than the general population (Carolyn C. R., 2014). Under the influence of drugs or alcohol, people may lose inhibitions and take risks they ordinarily would not.

Substance abuse not only increases the likelihood that a person will take their own life, but it is also used as a means for committing suicide. Roughly one in three people who die from suicide are under the influence of drugs, typically opiates such as oxycodone or heroin, or alcohol. Poisoning is the third-leading method used in suicide deaths, and drugs make up 75 percent of suicide deaths due to poisoning (Carolyn C. R., 2014).

In summary, substance use and suicidal ideation often co-exist, with higher rates of suicidal ideation among substance users than nonusers. This is as a result of the psychological and physical effect caused by depression, anxiety or other mental health conditions on the individual.



Because substance abuse so greatly increases the risk of suicide, one of the most critical steps in suicide prevention is overcoming any addictions and getting sober.

Fig. 1.1: A pictorial view of a Substance Abuse suicidal scene (

Substance abuse may be drug abuse or alcohol abuse, and each abuse has an effect on the psychology of an individual. An addict develops short-term judgments, which are most times detrimental to their health. Short term judgment includes suicidal thought and other violent activities, which affects the individual physically and emotionally, as well as affects the people around such an individual. Critical steps in suicide prevention will alleviate the depression and related mental health symptoms of the individual who is experiencing suicidal thoughts, and improve their short-term judgment. It will also allow mental health professionals to more accurately assess and diagnose any underlying mental health concerns so that they can be properly treated.

Overcoming substance abuse and tendencies depends solely on the individual, as a firm acclamation by the individual to recover from this menace is the first approach to overcoming substance abuse and tendencies. Aside from the proclamation by the individual, psychotherapies, and medications are required to ensure complete healing of the brain and body to avoid suicidal thoughts.

  1. Psychotherapies:

Multiple types of psychosocial interventions have been found to be beneficial for individuals who have attempted suicide. One type of psychotherapy is called Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). CBT can help people learn new ways of dealing with stressful experiences through training. Similarly, Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT), a type of therapy developed to help people with borderline personality disorder, also can reduce suicidality. DBT uses mindfulness and other coping skills to decrease impulsive and destructive urges that can lead to suicide attempts.

  1. Medication:

Some individuals at risk for suicide might benefit from medication. Doctors and patients can work together to find the best medication or medication combination, as well as the right dose. Certain medications have been shown to reduce the risk of suicide. Lithium (Eskalith, Lithobid), a mood-stabilizing medication used for bipolar disorder or major depression, has been shown to decrease suicides associated with depression. Similarly, clozapine (Clozaril, FazaClo), an antipsychotic medication, can reduce the risk of suicide in people with schizophrenia.

In conclusion, suicidal thoughts which are mostly generated, but, substance abuse treatment programs can help overcome by self-proclaiming the zeal to undergo recovery process, participating in therapies as well as using appropriate medications.



Suicidal ideation can occur when a person feels they are no longer able to cope with an overwhelming situation. This could stem from financial problems, psychological problem, the death of a loved one, a broken relationship, a family history, or a devastating or debilitating illness.

Fig. 1.1: suicidal thoughts image (

The most common situations or life events that might cause suicidal thoughts are grief, sexual abuse, financial problems, remorse, rejection, a relationship breakup, and unemployment.

The following risk factors may have an impact on the probability of someone experiencing suicidal ideation:

  1. Family history
  1. A family history of mental health issues
  2. A family history of substance abuse
  3. A family history of violence
  4. A family history of suicide
  5. A feeling of hopelessness
  6. A feeling of seclusion or loneliness


  1. Life events
  2. Being gay with no family or home support
  3. Being in trouble with the law
  4. Being under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  5. For children, having disciplinary, social or school problems
  6. Having a problem with substance abuse
  7. Having a psychiatric disorder or mental illness
  8. Having attempted suicide before
  9. Being prone to reckless or impulsive behavior
  10. Possessing a gun
  11. Sleep deprivation
  12. Knowing, identifying, or being associated with someone who has committed suicide

Conditions that are linked to a higher risk of suicidal ideation include:

  1. Psychological effects
  2. Adjustment disorder
  3. Anorexia nervosa
  4. Bipolar disorder
  5. Body dysmorphic disorder
  6. Borderline personality disorder
  7. Dissociative identity disorder
  8. Gender dysphoria, or gender identity disorder
  9. Major depressive disorder
  10. Panic disorder
  11. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  12. Schizophrenia
  13. Social anxiety disorder
  14. Generalized anxiety disorder
  15. Substance abuse
  16. Exposure to suicidal behavior in others

In conclusion, the causes of suicidal thoughts can include depression, anxiety, eating disorders such as anorexia, and substance abuse. Genetic factors may increase the risk of suicidal ideation. Individuals with suicidal thoughts tend to have a family history of suicide or suicidal thoughts as well as people with a family history of mental illness.



There are various signs and symptoms accompanied by addiction suicidal tendencies. Majorly these signs are enveloped in depression and other mental related disorder, but understanding each sign and symptom will help avoid this tendency.

fig 1.1: Addiction Suicidal Tendencies Signs and Symptoms

The signs and symptoms include;

  1. Talking about wanting to die or wanting to kill themselves: Most individuals who have the suicidal tendency frequently discuss the topic of committing suicide to their peers. This is a vital sign if the individual abuses a particular substance.
  2. Talking about feeling empty, hopeless, or having no reason to live: addicts with the tendency to commit suicide always relay problems of being empty to their peers.
  3. Making a plan or looking for a way to kill themselves, such as searching online, stockpiling pills, or buying a gun: Making a plan to kill oneself when under the influence of a particular substance is a tendency for addiction suicide in a long run.
  4. Talking about great guilt or shame: Addiction suicide occurs as a result of self-guilt by the individual.
  5. Talking about feeling trapped or feeling that there are no solutions: One of the signs of addiction suicide is the feeling of being helpless by these addicts.
  6. Feeling unbearable pain (emotional pain or physical pain): Also pain influences the tendency for addiction to suicide, as it is seen as a means to end all pains.
  7. Talking about being a burden to others: Due to the empty lifestyles of these addicts, they are forced to rely on other individuals for support, which is a long run, forces them to feel they have become a burden to the individual, and search solutions to their misery.

Other addiction tendencies signs and symptoms include;

  1. Using alcohol or drugs more often
  2. Acting anxious or agitated
  3. Withdrawing from family and friends
  4. Changing eating and/or sleeping habits
  5. Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  6. Taking great risks that could lead to death, such as driving extremely fast
  7. Talking or thinking about death often
  1. Displaying extreme mood swings, suddenly changing from very sad to very calm or happy
  2. Giving away important possessions
  3. Saying goodbye to friends and family
  4. Putting affairs in order, making a will.

These signs and symptoms show an individual’s tendency to committing suicide, and immediate intervention should be recommended to safeguard the life of the individual.