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Behavioral Health & Substance Abuse

DUAL DIAGNOSIS: Addiction and Suicide

People who are addicted to drugs or alcohol have a 10 times greater risk of death by suicide than the general population. People who are suffering from Suicidal Ideation and Addiction face unique challenges when seeking treatment.  With the right combination of integrated treatment recovery is possible.
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If you or a loved one are experiencing suicidal thoughts call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit their website by clicking here.

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Addiction and Suicidal Ideation

Addiction and suicidal ideation can go hand in hand.  The desire to escape feelings of depression and hopelessness can lead an individual to self-medicate with alcohol and drugs.  Prolonged substance abuse can feed into this spiral of despair, leading to an increased risk of suicidal ideation.  This phenomenon is especially true for individuals addicted to substances that cause a drop in serotonin levels, like alcohol, cocaine, or heroin.

Learning the connection between addiction and suicidal ideation can help you better understand this relationship to be more prepared to intervene when necessary.

What Is Addiction?

In essence, addiction is a chronic condition characterized by compulsive drug-seeking and use despite adverse consequences. In more scientific terms, it’s also found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (the DSM) Fifth Edition under Substance Use Disorder.

There are two major components to addiction: physical dependence and psychological compulsion or desire for drugs with a pleasurable effect. Another symptom that may accompany these conditions is tolerance – when your body needs more of something over time to get high, it builds up resistance to its effects.

The brain develops an increased sensitivity to dopamine after repeated exposure to substances like alcohol, cocaine, heroin, marijuana, or nicotine, which can lead people down life paths they would never have contemplated before this happened.

It becomes a vicious cycle because the brain responds to stress or negative emotions by releasing more dopamine – which is why people drink alcohol when they are stressed.

It’s also important to note that addiction can happen without drugs (alcohol, cocaine, heroin, etc.). A person would be considered addicted if they met other criteria, like being unable to cut down on their use despite wanting and trying to stop.

Physical Dependence

Physical dependence means your body needs something to function properly; psychological compulsion refers not only to an overwhelming desire for a substance but also cravings upon abstaining from its effects.

As with any addiction, the symptoms can be both mental and physical in nature; this is because drugs alter your brain chemistry by changing levels of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, which affects moods, sleep cycles, appetite, and other things.

For example, depression may accompany an addiction to opiates or alcohol due to decreased dopamine production in the brain’s pleasure center (nucleus accumbens).

In some instances, you’ll also experience withdrawal when going cold turkey – meaning quitting without tapering off slowly over time – which will bring about unpleasant but temporary effects until it stabilizes again within a few weeks. Psychological signs include cravings for substances despite knowing they’re harmful and difficulty cutting down on use despite trying.

What Is Suicidal Ideation?

Suicidal ideation is the persistent thoughts of suicide that make a person want to end their life. It’s often a symptom of major depressive disorder or borderline personality disorder and may also be present in those addicted to certain substances.

This does not mean people with suicidal thoughts will always go through with it, but they do have an increased risk for self-harm behaviors such as cutting themselves, which can lead them down a path towards suicide without intervention from others.

People suffering from depression might experience low moods during the day, followed by high moods at night. This type of bipolarity makes it difficult to get out of bed after waking up because their minds feel foggy and dark even though they’re experiencing highs when nighttime comes around.

When someone has suicidal ideation, they might experience feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness that can lead them to believe there are no other options.

The most important thing is to talk about how you’re feeling with someone who cares so you don’t stay in this dark place for too long. This way, the suicidal thoughts will fade away over time as your mood improves and life becomes more manageable.

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The Link Between Addiction And Suicidal Ideation

We know that there’s a connection between addiction and suicidal ideation for some individuals. Still, we don’t fully understand the dynamics behind it – namely, whether or not one causes the other or if they are reactive to each other in some way. Some people self-medicate with drugs as an escape from depression, leading to increased levels of mental anguish after prolonged use.

In this case, drug abuse makes them more depressed than ever because their dopamine levels have plummeted due to tolerance over time while simultaneously making withdrawal symptoms even worse when stopping cold turkey without tapering off slowly first. All these factors contribute to suicidal thoughts.

Addiction and suicide go hand in hand in this scenario because substance dependence is often accompanied by stressful life events such as money problems and unemployment.

It’s also possible that suicidal thoughts are reactive to an addiction; for example, when we’re feeling down because of life stressors, it can be hard not to turn towards substances (alcohol) or other coping mechanisms such as cutting which might make us feel better at the moment but never really solves anything on a deeper level.

In this case, there is still hope in talking about what you’re experiencing with someone who cares so your feelings don’t spiral out of control even more than they already have through self-medicating behaviors.

Why This Combination Is Dangerous

It’s important to understand that self-medicating through addiction can make suicidal ideation even worse.

This is due to the direct effect of substances on our brain chemistry and their ability to hinder depressive behavioral health, so when someone takes drugs, they will feel better at the moment. Still, it doesn’t tackle any underlying issues, which means there might be a higher risk of suicide if untreated or properly managed.

Suicidal thoughts are often present during the major depression, borderline personality disorder, and other disorders, which make an individual prone to these types of behaviors as well as substance abuse. This correlation is what we need more research into because it could help individuals who have one coexisting with another receive treatment sooner rather than later.

If you know someone who displays both suicidal ideation and addiction, it’s important to speak up for them to get the help they need.

If you think that the two apply to you, you should seek professional help as soon as possible.

Which Is Treated First: Addiction or Suicidal Ideation?

It can be tough for people with substance dependence to articulate their emotions, so they might not know what is going on in their head, which makes them more likely to make bad decisions that could lead them down the path towards suicide when there were other options available at hand (like talking about how they’re feeling).

The best way forward is by getting help through rehab centers that specialize in dual diagnosis cases, where professionals will work together to tackle any behavioral health issues.  This means starting treatment sooner rather than later since waiting only leaves an individual vulnerable and without support.

Furthermore, it’s important to talk about suicidal ideation in a direct and non-judgmental way because this is the kind of behavior that can be triggered by addiction.  People who are struggling with substance dependence might not know how to articulate their feelings which makes them more likely to act on impulses when they’re feeling down.

This means we need to initiate these conversations sooner rather than later so individuals have someone there for support – it doesn’t matter what you say as long as you listen, validate the other person’s experience, and offer help without judgment or stigma.

We also want people who don’t struggle with behavioral health issues but have an addiction problem such as alcoholism (where drinking becomes dangerous) to come forward before things get worse instead of waiting for the other shoe to drop and then turning towards substances.

Understanding all of this information is a key step in finding hope on the road toward recovery.  It might not seem like there’s a healthy way out, but with help, one can find it if we start talking about what’s going on now.

How to Reduce Suicidal Ideation

There are many ways to help reduce suicidal ideation and ensure safety if it happens.

How to Begin Your Journey to Overcoming Addiction

If you’re ready to take the next step and get help for addiction, you should do so sooner rather than later because waiting only leaves an individual vulnerable.

One of the most effective ways is by seeking out a rehab center with expert staff who can provide both physical and behavioral health treatment which means dual diagnosis cases can be treated together (so there will always be someone available no matter what).

Make sure you find a program that offers long-term care so individuals don’t feel like they have to go back home or enter into another situation where addictive substances might be present – recovery takes time!

If, for any reason, you feel unable to do this, you can start overcoming your addiction by seeking out self-help materials that will provide a different perspective on the addiction issue.

At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that even though there might not be an easy answer or quick fix for this problem, you’re never alone in your journey toward recovery!

Why We're One Best Dual Diagnosis Treatment Centers

Handpicked by Dr. Phil, New Method Wellness is a premier dual diagnosis addiction treatment center dually accredited by The Joint Commission. It has been singled out as one of the best drug and alcohol rehab centers in America, offering a unique 3:1 staff-to-client ratio that pairs every client with two therapists instead of one.

At New Method Wellness, we add another dimension to dual diagnosis treatment, and that is the integration of holistic therapy, such as massage/acupuncture therapy, equine therapy, and art therapy. As addiction therapists and substance abuse counselors work with clients to treat the substance use disorder and the co-occurring illness associated with it, holistic therapy adds meaning to life after treatment and sustains long-term recovery. Our 3:1 staff-to-client ratio ensures client success after treatment, as evidenced by our Extended Aftercare program.

For more information about New Method Wellness’s treatment programs, call (866) 951-1824

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Clinically Reviewed By:

Deanna J. Crosby, M.A., LMFT, LAADC, Psy.D. (C)

Deanna Crosby is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) with over 20 years of experience working with clients in recovery. Her expertise has catapulted her into the spotlight. Featured on several episodes of the Dr. Phil Show as a behavioral health expert, DeAnna is a routine contributor for NBC News, The Huffington Post, Elle Magazine, MSN, Fox News, Yahoo, Glamour, Today, and several other prominent media outlets. 

After receiving her bachelor’s degree from the University of California in Irvine, Crosby did postgraduate work at Centaur University where she graduated at the top of her class with a CAADAC certification in Centaur’s chemical dependency program. Following her time at Centaur, Crosby received her Master of Counseling Psychology degree from Pacifica Graduate Institute, where she also attained a Doctoral Degree in Depth Psychology.

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From all of us at New Method Wellness co-occurring treatment center, we wish you peace and serenity in knowing that you or your loved one will get the necessary help.


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