Addiction and Suicide Prevention

Addiction is a chronic mental illness that is characterized by continual misuse of substances. It is considered a substance use disorder that impacts the brain long-term in damaging ways. A leading cause of death in the United States, suicide is also a major health problem.

If addiction or suicide is left unaddressed, it can result in mental, physical, and emotional issues. Both addiction and suicide have effects that also impact family, friends, and communities in a lasting and negative way. Early detection and prevention are crucial to limiting the life-threatening consequences and stopping the progress toward addiction and suicide. If you suspect that your loved one may be struggling with addiction or may be suicidal, now is the time to act.

Warning Signs of Addiction

Addiction is a disease characterized by compulsive and impulsive tendencies, as well as a loss of control due to drug or alcohol use. Addiction is considered a brain disease because it can cause temporary and permanent changes to certain areas of a person’s brain. These areas that could potentially be affected include those that control impulsivity, memory, and judgment.

Addiction is a chronic brain disease that can affect anyone. Those who are suffering from an addiction may be experiencing denial and those around them may not know what signs to look for. However, there are general physical and behavioral symptoms that someone who may be suffering from addiction will experience. If these symptoms are left untreated and the addiction progresses, your loved one may face life-threatening conditions.

Physical warning signs include glassy, bloodshot eyes, dilated or constricted pupils, changing appetite and sleeping patterns, shifting energy levels, weight change, and lack of personal hygiene and grooming habits. Slurred, repetitive speech and impaired coordination, as well as unusual body, breath, and clothing odors, are other main signs that can be heightened if they do not seek treatment.

Behavioral warning signs include difficulties in relationships with others, continual neglect of duties or responsibilities, unexplained need for money or sudden financial issues, and criminal or irresponsible behavior and legal trouble. These can lead to shifts in mood and lifestyle, secretive and suspicious actions, and high-risk, dangerous behavior.

Warning Signs of Suicide

Warning signs of suicide may be very hard to identify. For someone who may be suicidal, clear warning signs can be found in the topics they talk about. At times, they may talk about wanting to die or kill themselves, feeling empty and hopeless with no reason to live, feeling guilt or shame, or feeling trapped with no solution to their problems, being a burden. They may talk or think about death often because they may be feeling unbearable physical or emotional pain, sometimes displaying extreme mood swings. They may be using substances more often, acting anxious or agitated, changing their eating and sleeping habits, and withdrawing from family, friends, and community.

This is less obvious, but another large warning sign is if they are planning or looking for a way to kill themselves. This possibility can be recognized through evidence of them taking life-threatening risks, such as driving under the influence, giving away important possessions, saying goodbye to loved ones, and putting affairs in order. These are behaviors that are frequently characteristic of someone who may be suicidal, and they must be addressed before they lead to death.

Who is at Risk?

Anyone can struggle with addiction. Suicidal thoughts or tendencies may be comorbid alongside addiction. Those who are struggling with pain, mental illness, and stress are at higher risk of self-medication to self-treat these underlying conditions and this can often lead to substance abuse and addiction. Addiction is a mental illness and its symptoms and consequences do not discriminate. Risk factors include psychological factors, such as high impulsivity and poor mental health, environmental influences, trauma, peer pressure, genetic predisposition, and brain characteristics that can make someone more vulnerable to addictive substances. The more risk factors that are present, the more likely that someone will develop an addiction.

According to research, men are more likely to die by suicide than women are, but women are more likely to attempt suicide. Research also shows that some demographic subgroups, such as youth ages 10-14, are at higher risk with higher rates of suicide. But like addiction, suicide does not discriminate. Anyone can become suicidal. People of all demographics, of different combinations of ages, genders, and ethnicities, can be at risk for engaging in suicidal thoughts and behavior.

The main risk factors are having prior suicide attempts, struggling with substance use disorder, suffering from medical illness, depression or other mental health disorders, owning guns at home, being in prison, being exposed to suicidal behavior from others, and being within the demographic subgroup of ages between 15 and 24 or over 60. Family histories of violence, physical or sexual abuse, suicide, and mental illness or substance use disorder can also be the main contributing factors and cause suicidal tendencies.

Since anyone can be at risk, it is important to prevent further damage and get help as soon as possible, if you suspect that they may be suicidal or suffering from addiction.

When Should You Seek Help

If you suspect a person you love may be struggling with addiction or may be suicidal, have sensitive, nonjudgmental conversations with them before suggesting the idea of treatment. It is important that they seek treatment as soon as possible. Recovery is achievable through various treatment options and therapy. It is never too late to start! With the help of health professionals at the Arizona Addiction Recovery Center, your loved one will receive unparalleled care and attention with a treatment program that will address all their needs in their goal to achieve full recovery of physical and mental health. Act now to halt their progress toward addiction and suicide. Call today!