You’ve struggled with addiction for years. The cravings, the relapses, the despair—it’s been an endless cycle. However, there is another under-discussed danger: suicide. When you’re in the throes of addiction, life can feel hopeless. You may begin to believe that suicide is the only option. The truth is that addiction and suicide are closely linked. Substances such as opioids, alcohol, and cocaine are frequently involved in deaths.
If someone you love is battling addiction, suicide is usually a hidden risk, yet, unfortunately very common. The warning signs are there; you just have to know what to look for and be ready to get help right away. Sober living homes such as ours, provide a supportive place to start the recovery journey.
September is suicide prevention month. Let’s spread awareness about this connection and work to save lives. The fight against addiction is hard enough, but losing someone to suicide makes it unbearable. Monroe Street Housing in Kokomo, Indiana offers treatment options and resources for addiction and suicide that can positively transform lives.
The Connection Between Addiction and Suicide
There’s a connection between addiction and suicide that often gets overlooked. To self-medicate or as a means to cope, people commonly rely on substances such as drugs and alcohol to escape emotional or physical pain. This can increase the risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors.
Substance Abuse and Suicidal Thoughts Feed Off Each Other
When someone is struggling with addiction, substances hijack the brain’s reward system and make it difficult to experience pleasure from anything else. This can lead to feelings of hopelessness and depression, which are major risk factors for suicide. At the same time, a person who feels like hurting themselves may use drugs or alcohol to try to feel better and make their emotional pain go away. This can start a bad pattern that keeps repeating.
Withdrawal Plays a Role in Addiction and Suicide
Going through withdrawal from drugs or alcohol can be an acutely distressing experience, both physically and mentally. The crash after the high and intense cravings can exacerbate negative emotions and suicidal ideation. The pain of withdrawal, combined with a lack of coping skills, may feel unbearable for someone already at risk of suicide.
Overdoses Can Be Lethal
For some people struggling with addiction, an overdose may be a way to end their lives, whether intentionally or not. Opioids in particular, like heroin and prescription painkillers, were involved in thousands of overdose deaths all year. While not all overdoses are suicidal, the line between the two can be blurry for someone in a desperate state of mind.
The connection between addiction and suicide is real and dangerous. By recognizing the symptoms, limiting access to fatal methods, and receiving the right care, we can save lives. Some people want to help, and it is available.
What are the Warning Signs That Someone May Be Suicidal?
If someone you care about is acting differently, it could be a sign they need help. Keep an eye out for these indicators that someone may be suicidal:
- Talking about death or suicide: This includes statements like “I wish I were dead” or “Everyone would be better off without me.” Don’t ignore these comments—take them seriously.
- Expressing feelings of hopelessness or purposelessness: Feeling like things will never get better or that life has no meaning or purpose. Helplessness and worthlessness are dangerous frames of mind.
- Withdrawing from friends and family: Isolating themselves and losing interest in activities and people that used to be important to them. This can be a sign of depression, a major risk factor for suicide.
- Making preparations for death: This could include writing a will, giving away prized possessions, or making funeral arrangements. These actions require immediate attention.
- Displaying extreme mood swings: Suicidal thoughts may manifest themselves as fury, agitation, or giddiness in an individual. Get assistance immediately.
- Increasing use of drugs or alcohol: Many people turn to substances to numb emotional or physical pain. Look for a loss of control or an inability to stop as warning signs.
- Access to means: Be very concerned if someone has access to guns, weapons, or large amounts of medication, especially if they are showing other warning signs.
If someone shows one or more of these signs, don’t wait. Reach out and start a caring conversation. Let them know you’ve noticed changes in their behavior and are concerned for their well-being. Ask them openly if they’re having thoughts about suicide, and listen to them without criticizing or making judgments. Get emergency help immediately if you think they’re in danger. Your support could save a life.
Which Substances Increase Suicide Risk?
Certain drugs and alcohol are known to increase the risk of suicidal thoughts or behaviors. The most common substances associated with higher suicide risk are:
- Alcohol: Excessive alcohol use can worsen symptoms of depression and anxiety, impair judgment, and lead to reckless behavior. Heavy drinking also negatively impacts relationships and social connections, increasing isolation and hopelessness.
- Opioids: Prescription painkillers like OxyContin and Vicodin, as well as heroin, can trigger depression and increase suicide risk. Opioid overdoses can also be lethal, whether intentional or not.
- Stimulants: Drugs like cocaine, methamphetamine, and prescription stimulants for ADHD can cause extreme mood swings, paranoia, and psychosis. The crash after stimulant use also often leads to depression and suicidal thoughts.
- Benzodiazepines: Anti-anxiety prescription medications like Xanax, Ativan, and Klonopin are commonly misused and can worsen depression, lower inhibitions, and impair judgment when combined with other drugs or alcohol.
Getting Help for Addiction and Suicide
Getting help for addiction and suicidal thoughts is one of the most important steps you can take. Don’t handle these problems by yourself. Connect with individuals who are willing to offer assistance.
Have a conversation with a medical professional or a mental health specialist.
If you’re facing substance abuse difficulties or experiencing thoughts of suicide, promptly inform your doctor. They can connect you with counselors, support groups, and rehabilitation programs. Speaking with a professional therapist or counselor can help you work through what’s troubling you and give you strategies for coping in healthier ways.
Contact a suicide helpline or crisis center.
If you or someone you know is in a difficult situation or considering suicide, call 911 or the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline which is 988. These helplines provide confidential support 24/7 and can help keep you safe in the moment.
Look into sobriety programs and rehab.
For addiction, consider programs like Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, or residential rehabilitation centers. Rehab provides resources for overcoming addiction in a supportive environment. Outpatient rehab, counseling, and sober living homes are also options if inpatient care isn’t right for you.
Build your support network.
Stay close to individuals who care about you and stand by you. Let close family and friends know you’re struggling and how they can help. Consider joining a local support group to connect with others facing similar issues. The more people you have cheering you on, the better your chances are of overcoming addiction and suicidal thoughts.
There are always alternatives to addiction and suicide. Don’t lose hope; help is available. There are bright days ahead, even in your darkest moments!
How Sober Living Homes Can Help With Suicidal Ideation
Sober living homes, also known as halfway houses, provide a supportive environment for those recovering from addiction. By living in a sober community, residents have an entire network of people supporting them in their sobriety and recovery. This type of support network and responsibility can aid in averting thoughts of suicide and taking action.
A Sense of Purpose
In a sober living home, residents have daily responsibilities like chores, curfews, and meetings to attend. This helps give people a sense of purpose and structure in their lives again. Suicidal thoughts are often linked to feelings of hopelessness, and these routines combat that by giving people concrete goals each day to work toward.
Living in a sober community means having round-the-clock support from house managers and fellow residents. There is always someone you can talk to if you’re feeling upset, alone, or struggling with thoughts of suicide. Staff and residents are trained to recognize the warning signs of suicide and can quickly get a person the help they need through counseling or by calling emergency services.
Residents in sober living homes are held accountable for their sobriety and actions. Regular drug tests, curfews, and house rules encourage residents to maintain their recovery. This accountability and responsibility help boost self-esteem and give people a sense of control over their lives again. When people feel more in control and confident, they are less prone to suicidal thoughts and behaviors.
Addressing Underlying Issues
Many people who struggle with addiction also struggle with co-occurring disorders like depression, trauma, or other mental health issues. Sober living homes provide access to counseling and therapy to help residents address these underlying issues that can contribute to suicidal thoughts. By learning coping strategies and life skills, people can better healthily manage psychological distress.
Help is Available at Monroe Street Housing
Monroe Street Housing is here to lend a helping hand when you need it most. Whether you’re facing challenges or seeking support, our dedicated team is committed to providing a safe and welcoming environment.
We understand that everyone’s journey is unique, and our resources and assistance are tailored to meet your individual needs. At our sober living home in Kokomo, IN, you’re not alone. We’re a place that promotes recovery and healing by providing high-quality care, guidance, and comfort, that you or a loved one deserves. Contact us today!