Written by Melissa Howard

No one wants to experience suicide or suicidal ideation. Often, suicide is a last resort to end suffering. Unfortunately, there is a painful relationship between suicide and substance abuse. If someone in your life suffers from addiction, here is what you need to know about the correlation between suicide and substance abuse.

The Correlation

Sadly, those who suffer from a form of addiction are six times more likely to attempt suicide during their lives than their peers. Depression can greatly increase this risk in those of all ages and backgrounds. Further, those who suffer from addiction may often have dual diagnoses (also known as comorbidity), such as grief and loss, anxiety, eating disorders, or bipolar disorder.

Many use addiction as a means to cope with their disorder, which can be dangerous. A good portion of those who do die by suicide are under the influence when they pass. It’s imperative to understand how that dual diagnosis might affect treatment of addiction, especially considering addiction may be a symptom, or self-medication, of a primary condition. Treating addiction without treating the dual diagnosis can lead to relapse — or much worse. To truly recover, all disorders must be addressed.

Get Treatment for Addiction

The best way to overcome addiction and to avoid suicidal ideation is to seek treatment. The selected treatment should address any diagnosis you have comprehensively, not just addiction. The program should make the individual feel empowered, heard, and respected. If one feels one’s needs are not being properly addressed, treatment may not be as effective as necessary for a full recovery. Whatever route is decided, ensure that there is a proper assessment before entering. By receiving a full assessment, any dual diagnosis can be uncovered and, therefore, treated in tandem with addiction.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

CBT is short for cognitive behavioral therapy. While beneficial for diagnoses such as depression and anxiety, it needs to be used as a supplement in the case of addiction. CBT is a way for many to better understand, and control, their thoughts. It emphasizes how what we think and do can have a negative or positive impact on how we feel. This form of therapy can be a great means of uncovering and challenging things that trigger our anxieties or depression. It can be a way for us to overcome things like an eating disorder and can be used in tandem with addiction treatment. One underlying component of CBT is understanding how our thoughts lie to us, and how those lies can trigger negative feelings. CBT is only one form of therapy available, and there are many other kinds if it isn’t the right fit.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Often, there is a good deal of shame involved with mental illness. It can make it difficult to want to open up and talk about it. Therapy is a great start, but being honest with loved ones is important too. Depression and other conditions can make one feel alone, but it’s imperative to challenge those thoughts, no matter how overwhelming.

If someone you love tells you about a condition, be there for them. They may need extra help doing mundane things and getting the help they need. Let them know that they are safe to talk and can reach out to you. Check in on them often as they may come to a point where they cannot ask for help themselves. Treatment during this time is absolutely essential to survive and thrive. Furthermore, if someone does come to you and take you into their confidence, listen to what they say without judgment. They need compassion, not a lecture. Just let them know that you’re there for them, and are willing to help in any capacity possible.

There is no denying the unfortunate connection between suicide and addiction. Adding a dual diagnosis can increase complications, and make recovery all the more difficult. However, with the proper treatment that addresses all of one’s specific needs, it’s possible to recover and put these dark days in the past.

Author's Bio: 

Irving Schattner is a psychotherapist in Delray Beach, Florida, and licensed clinical social worker with over 25 years of experience helping individuals, couples and families overcome real-life challenges with his private practice, the Counseling Center for Growth and Recovery. He also offers video and online therapy from the comfort of home, in addition to face-to-face sessions. Mr. Schattner specializes in depression counseling and anxiety management.