Addiction Treatment and Suicide Prevention

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Substance abuse and mental health intersect. The two share risk factors and have a cause-and-effect relationship.

 

One of the most devastating consequences of co-occurring mental health and addiction issues can be suicide. This isn’t an inevitable outcome. Suicide prevention is a major component of addiction treatment. The journal Alcoholism, Clinical and Experimental Research[1] shares, “More involvement in SUD [substance use disorder] treatment reduced the likelihood of a future suicide attempt in high-risk patients. Substance use disorder treatment providers interested in reducing future suicidal behavior may want to concentrate their efforts on identifying at-risk individuals and actively engaging these patients in longer treatment episodes.” Treatment works. The Canyon offers concentrated, individualized care that reduces the risk of suicide. Therapists, psychologists and peers help patients overcome feelings of hopelessness and loneliness. They offer information and encouragement for addiction recovery. Patients find empowerment, stability and joy. They learn skills to manage substance abuse and mental health symptoms. Treatment offers real hope for complete recovery.

The Intersection of Addiction and Suicide

depressed teen

You can prevent suicide. Doing so begins with understanding risk factors. No matter your or a loved one’s drug of choice, substance abuse creates suicide risk. Psychiatric Times[2] explains, “Individuals with a substance use disorder…are almost 6 times more likely to report a lifetime suicide attempt than those without a substance use disorder. Numerous studies of individuals in drug and alcohol treatment show that past suicide attempts and current suicidal thoughts are common.” Drug use contributes to suicidal thoughts, plans and attempts. These should never be ignored even if thoughts have not yet lead to attempts or attempts have no yet lead to tragedy. The relationship between drug use and suicide can be a fatal relationship. Psychiatric Times continues, “Recent evidence from veterans indicates that men with a substance use disorder are approximately 2.3 times more likely to die by suicide than those who are not substance abusers.” Women are also at risk, as the American Journal of Psychiatry[3] explains, “Suicidal behavior is frequent among cocaine-dependent patients…Significantly more of the patients who had attempted suicide were female.” No matter the drug, your gender or your life circumstances, drug use increases suicide risk. Treatment that understands this connection and offers appropriate, individualized care decreases the risk. The Canyon offers this compassionate, personalized and effective care.

Addiction, Mental Health and Suicide

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The connection between substance abuse and suicide is clear. The reasons for this connection may not seem as obvious, but they are no secret. Addiction is a mental health disease. Mental health diseases put individuals at risk for suicidal thoughts or actions. Psychiatric Times explains, “Mental health problems are some of the best-known and well-studied risk factors linked to suicidal ideation, suicide attempts, and suicide mortality. Approximately 90% of all individuals who completed suicide met criteria for 1 or more diagnosable psychiatric conditions. Mental health conditions most strongly associated with fatal and nonfatal suicide attempts include depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder, and alcohol and/or drug use disorders.” Statistics relating to drug use, mental health and suicide aren’t intended to cause fear. They are intended to increase awareness. When mental health issues go undetected or are ignored, there are consequences. Awareness and information lead to positive action. They lead to treatment. You can take steps to prevent suicide and to find mental health for yourself or a loved one.

Drug Use and Depression

Depression and suicidal thoughts are commonly linked. Addiction and depression often overlap. When they do, suicide attempts can occur. Psychology Today[4] shares, “The rate of major depression is two to four times higher among addicts than the general population.” If you or a loved one is misusing drugs or alcohol, depression may be present. If you struggle with depression, you may also consciously or subconsciously self-medicate with addictive substances. Addiction and depression have a complicated cause-and-effect relationship. Determining which came first can be nearly impossible. Determining which came first is also unnecessary. Both issues must be treated, and treated simultaneously, for complete mental and physical health. As with any mental health or addiction concern, ignoring the problem leads to greater problems. Addiction and depression do not go away on their own. The Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment shares, “Depression is associated with concurrent alcohol use and impairment and drug use and impairment…Age moderated the association between depression and alcohol use and impairment such that the association was stronger in older samples.” The longer a person has been drinking and/or experiencing depression, the stronger the relationship between the two becomes. If you ignore mental health and addiction issues, they become more tightly entwined. The Canyon offers Dual Diagnosis treatment for depression, addiction and all co-occurring mental, physical and substance abuse concerns. This comprehensive treatment allows for psychological healing. It stops the progression of depression and addiction.

A Holistic Approach to Preventing Suicide

Addiction treatment helps prevent suicide. Comprehensive treatment programs like those at The Canyon provide in-depth assessments and appropriate care. They also address a person as a whole, as more than addiction and more than his or her mental health status. Addiction and mental health issues contribute to suicide risk. They are not the only factors involved. For example the Journal of Studies on Alcohol[5] shares, “Suicide prevention efforts in alcoholics, if they are to be successful, must include a focus on depression as well as interpersonal factors, including partner-relationship difficulties.” The connection between mental health, addiction and interpersonal challenges is as complex as that between mental health and addiction alone. Addiction disrupts relationships. Drugs disrupt connections once based on trust and respect. Changes to brain, behavior and mood change priorities and how individuals respond to others. Mental health symptoms make it hard for individuals to connect with others or to interact appropriately. A person may turn to drugs or alcohol because of preexisting mental health or interpersonal challenges.

Check out more on how society currently views mental health illness and how we hope to shift this perspective in the future. Sam Webb shares his thoughts on Recovery Unscripted.

These challenges can arise or worsen as drug use increases depression, anxiety and other mental health concerns. Treatment that addresses mental health and substance abuse symptoms is not complete treatment. Recovery involves learning life skills for emotional and social healing. Whitehouse.gov[6] recognizes the value of holistic addiction treatment in suicide prevention: “Prevention works, treatment is effective, and recovery is possible. Life skills that support effective problem-solving and emotional regulation, connections with positive friends and family members, and social support can protect individuals from both substance abuse and suicide. Treatment and support are important precursors for recovery from substance abuse as well as recovery from suicidal thoughts.” The Canyon offers personal and professional support. We teach life skills. Treatment is a safe place to practice new ways of interacting with self and others. Healthy relationships lead to strong recoveries and help prevent suicide.

Treating Addiction, Preventing Suicide

Addiction can be managed. Suicide can be prevented. Both of these goals are accomplished through comprehensive treatment. Dual Diagnosis care simultaneously addresses mental health issues and substance abuse concerns. Therapeutic methods such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) teach individuals to manage cravings and redirect negative or suicidal thoughts into positive and healthy expressions. CBT is just one of many options. It has a long history of success and so is often used as a first and primary approach to complete recovery. Any treatment approach should prioritize suicide prevention. The earliest stages of CBT focus on health and safety. The Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry[7] explains that therapy begins with safety planning, “a technique to help patients remain safe and not to engage in further suicidal behavior, at least until the next therapy session. Safety planning, as developed in CBT, provides patients with a prioritized and specific set of coping strategies and sources of support that can be used during a suicidal crisis.” Once plans for immediate safety are in place, CBT begins to address suicide risk factors such as drug and alcohol consumption. Therapists work with patients to identify the factors that are most likely to make them feel suicidal or to pick up drugs or alcohol. These could be emotional stressors such as unhappiness in a relationship, cognitive stressors like situations that cause anxiety or environmental stressors such as access to drugs or social encouragement to use. CBT teaches coping skills, improved communication methods and stress-management practices. It gives patients options for replacing negative thoughts and cravings with positive action and attitude.

When programs like those at The Canyon combine CBT with other treatment modalities such as group therapy, art therapy and meditation, patients receive an even greater set of options for healthy alternatives to drug use. Dialectical behavior therapy, community reinforcement, and family therapy are also options that can be used in conjunction with or in place of CBT. The key to recovery and suicide prevention is finding the treatment method that works for the individual. The Canyon is dedicated to providing accurate assessments and employing the most appropriate and effective treatment methods. We offer compassionate, professional care. Anyone can find relief and recovery. We can help.


Sources

[1]    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17374043. “Predictors of a Suicide Attempt One Year After Entry into Substance Use Disorder Treatment. Alcoholism, Clinical and Experimental Research. Apr 2007. Web. 19 Oct 2016.

[2]    http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/substance-use-disorder/link-between-substance-abuse-violence-and-suicide/page/0/1. “The Link Between Substance Abuse, Violence, and Suicide.” Psychiatric Times. 20 Jan 2011. Web. 19 Oct 2016.

[3]    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11481153. “Characteristics of Cocaine-Dependent Patients Who Attempt Suicide.” American Journal of Psychiatry. Aug 2001. Web. 19 Oct 2016.

[4]    https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/real-healing/201402/suicide-one-addiction-s-hidden-risks. “Suicide: One of Addiction's Hidden Risks.” Psychology Today. 20 Feb 2014. Web. 19 Oct 2016.

[5]    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12921197. “Risk Factors for Suicide and Medically Serious Suicide Attempts Among Alcoholics.” Journal of Studies on Alcohol. Jul 2006. Web. 19 Oct 2016.

[6]    https://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2013/09/10/substance-abuse-prevention-suicide-prevention. “Substance Abuse Prevention Is Suicide Prevention.” whitehouse.gov. 10 Sep 2013. Web. 19 Oct 2016.

[7]    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2888910/. “Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Suicide Prevention.” Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Oct 2009. Web. 19 Oct 2016.

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