Addiction and Suicide

According to WHO (World Health Organization), 800,000 people worldwide die from suicide every year. The CDC (Center for Disease Control), says suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States.

It comes as no surprise that depression and other mood disorders are the number one risk for suicide, but many people don’t realize that alcoholism, even when depression isn’t involved, is a close second. In fact, research indicates that alcoholism, not depression, is the highest predictor of suicide.

The CDC also reports that addicted people are six times more likely to commit suicide than people without substance abuse disorders.

Why is the Suicide Rate so High for People with Substance Abuse Disorders?

All too often, people turn to drugs or alcohol to relieve the pain of anxiety or depression. Research indicates that one in three people who commit suicide are under the influence of alcohol or drugs such as opiates or oxycodone. Anyone who uses drugs or alcohol to self-medicate depression or anxiety is at higher risk of suicide.

In some cases, people are more likely to engage in risky behavior or self-harm because they lose their inhibitions when using drugs or alcohol.

Some people commit suicide due to the consequences of addiction, such as broken relationships, or financial or legal problems.

Treatment is Critical

Treatment is the best way to prevent suicides linked to substance abuse and addiction, yet a very small percentage of addicts ever receive help and most physicians aren’t equipped to deal with suicidal patients.

People who struggle with addiction and depression, anxiety or other mental health disorders benefit from a qualified dual diagnosis program that can address both problems.


If someone you love is threatening to commit suicide:

  • Call a crisis line or emergency medical personnel. Don’t leave the person alone.
  • Remove any items that can be used for self-harm, including guns, knives, poisons and drugs, either prescription or illegal.
  • Don’t hesitate to talk to your loved one about suicide. Talking about it won’t make a person more likely to commit suicide. It lets the person know you care and may reduce a great deal of pain and anxiety.
  • Encourage your loved one to enter drug and alcohol treatment as soon as possible.

If you are thinking about suicide:

  • If you are in immediate danger, call a crisis line or emergency medical provider, or check into the nearest hospital.
  • If you aren’t in imminent danger, talk to a trusted friend, counselor or pastor about your suicidal thoughts.
  • Enter drug and alcohol treatment or rehab to address your problem with substance abuse and addiction.

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