Suicide rates have risen 35% in the US over the past two decades, and people with substance use disorders are at higher risk than others.
For one, chronic alcohol use or intoxication is associated with a 10-times higher risk for suicide compared to the general population. The effects of intoxication – unease, agitation, impaired perception and motor control – actually makes people prone to risk-taking or impulsive behavior which increases their risk of suicidal behavior. Likewise, suicidal urges may make people want to get drunk to take away negative feelings. Alcohol use itself is also associated with aggressive behavior, intimate partner violence, economic hardship, and job loss, all of which predict both suicide and alcohol-related deaths.
Everyone knows that the US is currently in the midst of an opioid use epidemic (OUD), but did you know that research suggests that a suicidal element may play a role in opioid overdose deaths? In fact, people who use opioids are 14 times more likely to die by suicide compared to the general population and lifetime suicide attempt rates among individuals with OUD are high, ranging between 17% and 48%. The link between OUD and increased suicide risk may be attributed to several factors. Social and environmental disadvantages, such as lack of family support, unemployment, and homelessness are highly prevalent among persons with OUD, as well as among suicidal individuals. Childhood trauma (physical, mental, or sexual abuse) is a particularly significant early risk factor for suicide. Trauma is highly prevalent in people with OUD and a co-occurring history of childhood abuse significantly increases their risk for suicidal behavior. Sometimes, traumatized people see suicide as the only way out of the pain.
For people with Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) who have high suicide risk, the research shows they benefit more from inpatient treatment than outpatient settings. Treatment is most effective in facilities that provide treatment for alcoholism and co-occurring mental health issues. Those with OUD benefit most from pharmacological treatment for opioid withdrawal in an inpatient setting treatment program that provides care for co-occurring suicidal ideation or other unmanaged psychiatric symptoms.
L.A. CADA provides treatment for alcohol use, opioid use, and psychiatric disorders. Call us at (562) 906-2676l
And treatment professionals can learn more here: Suicide and Substance Use