September 5th, 2023
Suicide and addiction
There are few experiences more complex or heartbreaking than dealing with both addiction and suicidal thoughts. However, there are countless people who sadly find themselves in this situation. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction and suicide, know this first: you are not alone, and there is hope. At Oasis Runcorn, our experienced team is ready to walk with you, side by side, through your journey towards recovery. In the most profound sense, you are embarking on one of the most courageous journeys a person can make, the journey of reclaiming your life.
What is dual diagnosis addiction and suicide?
Dual diagnosis, also known as co-occurring disorders, is a term used when someone experiences a mental illness and a substance use disorder simultaneously. Dual diagnosis addiction and suicide refers to the condition where an individual is wrestling with substance misuse alongside recurring suicidal thoughts or behaviours.
This combination is far from rare. Research suggests that individuals with substance use disorders are almost six times more likely to report a lifetime suicide attempt than those without. The complexity of these co-occurring conditions lies in their intertwined nature; each condition can influence the other’s onset, progression, and response to treatment. For instance, addiction can intensify suicidal thoughts, and these thoughts can, in turn, drive the individual further into substance misuse.
The link between addiction and suicide is most common with the following substances:
- Alcohol (present in 22% of suicides)
- Opioids (20%)
- Marijuana (10.2%)
- Cocaine (4.6%),
- Amphetamines (3.4%)
What is the connection between addiction and suicide?
Addiction and suicide share common roots with the two issues often grounded in mental health disorders, emotional distress or a sense of helplessness and hopelessness. They are interconnected conditions, each capable of instigating and worsening the other, making their co-occurrence a complex web that can be very difficult to untangle.
Some of the links between addiction and suicidal thoughts and behaviour include:
Addiction can lead to severe emotional and physical discomfort, fostering an environment where suicidal thoughts may flourish. Going the other way, the despair associated with suicidal tendencies can drive people to substance use or compulsive behaviours as a means of escape, perpetuating a cycle of dependence and self-harm.
Underlying mental health issues
Many people with addiction disorders also struggle with mental health issues like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder or PTSD. These conditions can all engender suicidal thoughts, with substance use often starting as a maladaptive coping mechanism to get some respite from symptoms.
Risk-taking behaviour and impulsivity
Substance use disorders and other addictions can heighten impulsivity and risk-taking behaviour. This can result in reckless acts, including self-harm or suicide attempts, particularly during intoxication or withdrawal periods.
Both addiction and suicidal tendencies can lead to social isolation. This detachment from loved ones and support networks can intensify feelings of loneliness, despair and hopelessness, further entrenching both conditions.
Maintaining an addiction can be costly, leading to financial strain, debt, and even poverty. These financial stressors can further feed into feelings of hopelessness, cause problems in relationships and create serious issues like debt and homelessness. All of these can intensify suicidal thoughts and the cycle of addiction.
How suicidal thoughts can affect recovery
Suicidal thoughts can introduce added complexities into the recovery process from addiction, making an already challenging journey even more demanding. Understanding these issues can help individuals and care providers better navigate the path to recovery:
Suicidal thoughts during detox
Detox is the first step in the recovery process, where the body rids itself of the addictive substance. This period can be physically and emotionally taxing, potentially bringing underlying issues, like suicidal thoughts, to the surface. These thoughts might arise as withdrawal symptoms, making the detox stage particularly challenging. These symptoms can trigger heightened emotional distress, which in turn can amplify cravings for the substance as a form of self-soothing.
It is crucial to monitor these thoughts closely during this sensitive period to ensure safety and provide immediate emotional support when needed. At Oasis Runcorn, our medical and rehab teams have extensive experience with helping people complete the detox safely and comfortably and will provide all the help you need.
Impact on self-belief and motivation
Suicidal thoughts can also affect the psychological aspects of recovery. These feelings of despair can erode self-confidence and motivation, two key factors in a successful recovery. If someone doesn’t believe in their ability to recover or struggles to find the will to do so because of these intense negative emotions, it can stall the recovery process. A crucial aspect of treatment is therefore reinforcing self-esteem, cultivating hope, and reigniting the motivation for recovery.
Effective therapies for addiction when suicide is present
Treating addiction in a person with suicidal thoughts requires comprehensive, integrated care. Oasis Runcorn is renowned for effective, comprehensive treatment and offers a wide range of rehab therapies. While rehab is primarily designed for addressing addiction, many of these therapies also provide many benefits for those struggling with suicidal thoughts. Some of the most effective include:
- Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT): DBT is a form of therapy specifically designed to help people manage intense emotions, reduce self-harm behaviours and improve relationships. It integrates CBT’s focus on thought patterns with mindfulness, emotional regulation and distress tolerance strategies. DBT can be particularly effective for those who struggle with both addiction and suicidal thoughts, providing a holistic approach that addresses both conditions simultaneously.
- Individual therapy: Individual therapy provides a safe and confidential space for individuals struggling with suicidal thoughts and addiction to explore their emotions, triggers, and underlying issues. Therapists employ evidence-based techniques such as dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) and motivational interviewing to address distorted thought patterns, enhance coping skills, and develop healthier strategies for managing emotional distress. Through this personalised approach, therapy offers a vital support system, empowering individuals to work through their challenges, cultivate resilience, and ultimately regain control over their lives.
- Aftercare: Aftercare is an essential component of the recovery process that helps maintain the gains made during treatment and supports you in your new, healthier life. Oasis Runcorn’s aftercare programme consists of group therapy sessions for a year, which provide ongoing support, create a sense of community and offer an outlet to discuss ongoing challenges. These sessions help to reinforce the coping strategies learned during treatment and can serve as a safety net to prevent a relapse of addiction and suicidal thoughts.
How to get started
Take the first step towards reclaiming your life today. Contact Oasis Runcorn, and together, let’s navigate the path to recovery. Remember, you are not alone in this battle, and with the right support and treatment, you can overcome this struggle and build a new life free from the despair of addiction and suicide.