Suicide accounts more than 34,000 deaths in the U.S. annually, making suicide the 11th leading cause of death. This epidemic has monumental impacts on humanity and society. The reality is, there is a substantial correlation between both substance abuse, alcohol addiction and suicide. Why is this irreversible tragedy becoming the last resort for so many alcoholics and drug addicts? What is the correlation between addiction and suicide? Most importantly, are there ways to reverse the trends?
Alcohol & the Suicide Correlation
One third of all US suicides involve alcohol. In fact, alcohol is the most common factor involved with suicide. That equates to 2,500 lives lost each year. An adult alcoholic is 120 times more likely to commit suicide than an adult non-alcoholic.
Why is alcohol the most common factor in suicide? Regular alcohol abuse causes depression, which is the main emotional factor in suicide.1 Other factors play a role as well:
“Alcohol increases impulsivity and decreases inhibition. It increases negative self-image and decreases self-esteem; deepens depression and social isolation; and rises with the amount and length of time alcohol is consumed. Alcohol use fosters either/or and all or nothing thinking, and a lower concern for the future consequences of one’s actions. Many suicide attempts occur during binge drinking.” – Montgomery County Emergency Services
Drugs & the Suicide Correlation
Individuals who have a substance abuse disorder are six times more likely to attempt suicide. The rate of complicated suicide among addicts is 2-3 times higher than among the males who are not addicts. Among, women, the use of substances increases the risk of suicide for 6.5 to 9 times compared to women non-addicts.2
Suicide amongst addicts is affected by both gender and age. Older drug addicts are at higher risk for attempts and suicides than younger addicts. Previous suicide attempts represent a stronger risk for repeated suicidal attempts. Another very important factor is the drug being used. Heroin and sedatives are substances that correlate the most with suicide attempts.2
How do we reverse this very dangerous trend?
First, we need to change the way we view addicts and addiction. Addiction is a disease, it is not a moral failure. Society has been programmed to view addicts in a negative light, as if an addict can willingly control their addiction if they just tried hard enough. This is not the case. Imagine a Type 1 diabetic trying to mentally will their glucose levels to go to a certain level throughout the day to try and treat their disease. It would be impossible. Medical science proves that addiction is controlled by the pleasure/learning area within the brain. Cravings intensify over time and the need for alcohol/drugs also intensifies over time. Unless these cravings are medically treated and stopped, the disease is very difficult to manage, if not impossible for many. Think about it… society does not shun others that have a disease such as: diabetes, heart disease, strokes, asthma or cancer. Why would we judge addicts for their disease based on a moral scale?
How do we treat the disease?
Addiction has the best results when treated with a medical approach. Aversion therapy is a medical approach that retrains the brain to stop the cravings. The cravings are the symptom that continuously causes addicts to relapse. When cravings are controlled, the addiction can be controlled. Schick Shadel Hospital has helped over 80,000 patients over 80 years by using aversion therapy. Because they use this medical approach combined with sedation therapy, they have the highest success rate for treating alcoholism in the nation.3
If you or a loved one are struggling with depression, call 1-800-CRAVING and ask Schick Shadel about their aversion therapy medical treatment that has helped over 80,000 patients reclaim their lives.
1 QuitAlcohol.com – July 13, 2016 https://www.quitalcohol.com/alcohol-abuse/alcohol-and-suicide.html
2 US National Library for Medicine National Institutes of Health: Drug Addiction as Risk for Suicide Attempts https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4499285/
3 Schickshadel.com https://www.schickshadel.com/