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Drug and Alcohol Addiction and Suicide 

Recent studies point toward a direct relation between drug abuse and suicide. And as per the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), people struggling with drug and alcohol addiction are up to 6 times more likely to die of suicide than non-addicted people. 

While not every person with substance use disorder will become suicidal, the risk of suicidal thoughts continues to increase as a victim sinks deeper into the endless pit of addiction. 

What usually starts as grumpiness gradually morphs into depression before an addict becomes hopeless to the extent of contemplating suicide. 

But is it possible to prevent addiction-related suicide? 

Although hard, it is possible to prevent suicide due to drug and alcohol addiction, especially when the disorder is treated early enough. 

Read on as we take a closer look at addiction and its relation to suicide rates. We’ll even discuss some of the suicide red flags to be on the lookout for and how to reduce them.

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The Relationship Between Drug Addiction and Suicide 

Suicide ranks as one of the leading causes of death in the US, having made the top 10 for several years since 2010. 

While mental health disorders rank as the number 1 suicide risk factor, drug and alcohol abuse come in at a close second. And in 6 out of 10 occasions, you’ll find that people abusing drugs have underlying mental health disorders like depression, which further enhances the risk of suicide. 

An average of 40,000 Americans commit suicide every year, which highlights the need to address mental health issues sooner rather than later. 

Of the 45,979 suicide deaths in 2020, nearly half are believed to have occurred as a result of the effects of drug and alcohol addiction, which shows that more needs to be done to curb addiction as a whole. 

The risks of death due to suicide increase exponentially as a victim sinks deeper into addiction. 

For instance, a long-term drug addict is likely to develop suicidal thoughts once the full effects of drug abuse, such as career and family loss, kick in. 

Risk Factors For Suicide

There is no single cause of suicide as several factors contribute to feelings of hopelessness that often lead to suicidal thoughts and attempts. Here are some factors that increase the likelihood of suicide in drug addicts. 

Chronic Addiction 

Substance use often starts as a casual habit before transforming into dependence and eventually, chronic addiction. 

Unfortunately, most addicts are usually in denial of the substance use problem, often insisting that everything’s perfectly under control. This usually continues until the signs of addiction become apparent. 

Suicidal thoughts tend to creep in when an addict starts to experience the consequences of addiction like loss of employment, strained relationships, isolation, broken marriages, and brokenness. 

An addict will contemplate suicide when all avenues appear shut and hopelessness settles in. This explains why people struggling with substance abuse disorders should seek addiction treatment at the earliest possible opportunity.

Co-Occurring Disorders

On most occasions, addiction usually starts as a coping mechanism or escape from underlying conditions. 

In a recent report, NIDA reveals that almost 40% of people struggling with drug and alcohol addiction have underlying mental health issues like anxiety, ADHD, bipolar disorder, depression, and PTSD. 

As people struggle to cope with underlying conditions, they become addicted along the way and end up dealing with both the addiction and the mental health issues. 

People with co-occurring disorders need professional assistance before the situation gets out of hand and leads to potentially destructive behavior. 

An alcoholic struggling with clinical depression or PTSD is more likely to contemplate suicide compared to an alcoholic without any underlying mental health conditions. 

Poor Social Support 

It’s no secret that addiction has a negative impact on a victim’s personal life and social relationships. 

As the alcohol or drug use disorder worsens, the addict becomes increasingly isolated from friends and family. 

Eventually, most relationships end up broken, especially if the addictive behavior comes with negative behavior such as theft, infidelity, and constant lies

The reduced support from friends and loved ones often leads to depression, and even worse, it can develop into suicidal thoughts and attempts. 

Although putting up with an addicted loved one can prove overwhelming, it is vital to provide support and try to be as patient (and understanding) as possible. 

Neglecting addicts altogether means they won’t have anyone to challenge their negative thoughts, which tend to pop up every now and then. 

Stressful Life Events 

A drug or alcohol addict will find it harder to cope with stressful life events compared to a sober individual. 

And since drugs are known to impair judgment, it’s highly likely that some addicts can develop negative thoughts over time, especially as financial burdens or day-to-day responsibilities become overwhelming. 

Without the support of close friends and family members, addicts might struggle to cope with their issues, effectively increasing the chances of suicide. 

Eventually, once the circumstances become too much, the easy way out– in the eyes of the addict– becomes committing suicide!

Living Alone 

As a rule, you should not allow an addicted friend or loved one to live alone. Although addicts can be unruly, especially when intoxicated, they’re usually a lot safer when surrounded by people that care about their welfare. 

It’s better to live with (or regularly visit) an addicted loved one as you try convincing them to attend rehab or organize a professional intervention. 

Chronic alcohol and drug addicts often struggle to perform day-to-day tasks, and leaving alone will only compound their challenges. The more an addict lives in solitude, the more the destructive behavior grows. 

Eventually, feelings of worthlessness will creep in and promote suicidal thoughts. The thoughts can then develop into attempts if there’s no one to drive some sense and stop the addict. 

Prior Suicidal Behavior

People with a history of suicidal attempts are a lot more likely to commit the act compared to those who’ve never attempted suicide. 

Therefore, if you’re loved one has tried committing suicide regularly before developing an addiction, chances are they might become suicidal later on when the addiction gets out of hand. 

In almost all cases, people who attempt suicide have underlying issues that often prove hard to overcome. People then resort to alcohol or drug abuse to cope with the problem, which further increases the risk of suicidal behavior further along the line. 

As such, you should be extra careful when handling an addicted family member or friend with a history of suicidal behavior. Although all addicts need support, they usually require more attention and active monitoring as they can become suicidal at any time. 


An individual might elect to commit suicide out of frustration that an activity or event didn’t go as planned. For instance, an individual addicted to prescription opioids might struggle to cope when prescriptions are unavailable. 

The frustration resulting from one loss after another-like losing a job after a nasty divorce and losing child custody can lead to suicidal behavior, especially when the addiction is chronic. 


Regret is also a major cause of suicidal behavior, especially when an addict has lost everything due to addiction. 

Long-term addicts with broken marriages, lost opportunities, and poor social relationships often end up with many regrets that can lead to suicidal thoughts if not handled early enough. 

Additionally, serial relapses also increase the risks of suicide as the addict might seek to break the cycle once and for all. 

Signs an Addicted Loved One Is Contemplating Suicide 

The risk of suicide increases significantly when drug and alcohol abuse comes into the picture. As such, it is crucial to understand some of the signs or red flags of suicidal behavior to prevent your loved one from committing the deed. 

Suicide Threats

While it might be tempting to brush off suicide threats as bluffs (especially if done frequently), you might be left red-faced and full of regrets if the addict follows through with the threats. 

You’ll know a loved one is contemplating suicide if they’re constantly talking about suicide and how death can be an escape. 

Seeking professional assistance is the best way to deal with suicide threats, especially if they become persistent over time. 

Cryptic Online Posts 

Although social media is a public diary used to document wins and milestones, some people use it to share their experiences, stresses, and frustrations. 

Be on the lookout for cryptic posts about death and hopelessness, especially if a loved one has a history of suicidal attempts. 

In case a friend or a loved one posts weird death-related posts, it’s wise to act immediately by calling emergency services or heading over as they’re most likely contemplating suicide, especially if they live alone. 

Weird Giveaways  

Is your close friend or family member suddenly opening to giving out their most valuable possessions? If so, chances are they are contemplating suicide and require immediate intervention. 

Of course, giving valuable items away is not a problem. The issue comes in when a loved one has exhibited signs of suicide before and starts handing out items that were invaluable before addiction. 

Giving away belongings is a sign that suicidal thoughts have advanced and the victim is contemplating taking his or her own life sooner rather than later. 

Says Their Final Bye Byes

If someone experiencing the full-blown effects of addiction starts to say bye without any explanation, chances are they’re contemplating suicide. 

The guilt and regret of becoming a slave to drugs might be overwhelming for some, such that they feel the need to end their misery. 

And although some addicts might say their byes without executing the deed, you’ll know the situation is worsening if the byes become more frequent. 

Sudden Isolation 

Although isolation and chronic addiction go hand in hand, you should be concerned if your loved one isolates themselves for days without any social contact. 

People who isolate themselves completely for several days, more specifically addicts, are at increased risk of committing suicide due to depression and hopelessness. 

Usually, the isolation starts casually before it blows up to total isolation and blackout from the world. People in such situations rarely reach out to loved ones and prefer being offline. 

Therefore, you should seek professional help if you notice an abnormal type of isolation from someone who was always social before addiction. 

How Can You Prevent An Addict From Committing Suicide? 

The best way to prevent an addict from committing suicide is by seeking professional assistance. This means enrolling your loved one in a rehab center for treatment at the earliest possible time before the addiction progresses. 

As part of addiction treatment, your loved one will get to interact with licensed counselors and participate in individual and group therapy. 

Additionally, most rehabs administer dual diagnosis services to treat mental illnesses like depression, anxiety, PTSD, and schizophrenia, which is crucial to controlling and eliminating suicidal behavior in patients. 

But are there good enough rehab centers? Fortunately, there are hundreds of licensed and well-respected rehabs in the country.

The trick is to enroll your loved one in a licensed rehab center with a good track record. 

Out-of-state treatment can also work well, especially if you want a loved one to detach from their immediate environment and get a fresh start. 

Wrapping Up

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Don't go through the process of recovery alone. There are people who can help you with the struggle you're facing. Get in touch with one today.

Make a Call

As established throughout the article, people struggling with drug or alcohol addiction are likely to develop suicidal thoughts, especially once the full effects of substance abuse kick in. 

And although hard to prevent suicide, you can help a friend or loved one by seeking professional assistance as soon as possible. 

Luckily, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of well-respected rehabs sprinkled throughout the country that can help your loved one win the fight against drugs. 

Contact a rehab center today to help your loved one overcome addiction and regain hope again.

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