Relationship Between Suicide and Addiction
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The Scary Relationship Between Suicide and Addiction

Nobody who experiments with substance abuse intends to become an addict. A common misconception that individuals have been the tendency to believe that they’re the exception to the rule of continued substance abuse inevitably resulting in addiction. Becuase suicide and addiction have been shown to have a strong connection, getting treatment for the addiction can potentially save someone’s life.

Whether one’s drug of choice is alcohol, heroin, cocaine, or some other harmful substance, the development of addiction occurs in much the same way for every addict: After a period of experimental intoxication, he or she begins steadily increasing the amount consumed as a tolerance builds, fruitlessly chasing the intensity of that first time while getting farther and farther away. By the time these individuals realize what has happened, chemical dependency has developed, preventing them from being able to simply stop consuming alcohol or drugs.

As if addiction to alcohol and drugs wasn’t enough on its own, there are high rates of comorbidity—the presence of two illnesses or diagnoses occurring at the same time—among those who suffer from addiction. In fact, many addiction recovery centers offer dual-diagnosis support for such individuals as a means of preventing an inadequately treated, co-occurring disorder from making individuals more susceptible to relapse. However, there are other risks that seem to be elevated for addicted relative to the rest of the population.

Elevated Rates of Suicide Among Addicts

Sources have identified elevated rates of suicide among those who suffer from alcohol and drug addiction. More specifically, statistics shows that half of all suicides are committed by individuals who suffer from addiction with roughly 25 percent of addicts attempting suicide at some point over the course of their dependency. Further investigation shows that the correlation between elevated suicide rates and chemical dependency is a result of alcohol and drug addicts frequently suffering from comorbid, or co-occurring, depression.

In fact, a study found that nearly 70 percent of individuals participating in an addiction treatment satisfied the diagnostic criteria for major depression with more than 75 percent of those individuals having developed depression prior to the development of alcohol or drug addiction; this indicates that untreated depression could lead to substance abuse and addiction, possibly as individuals attempt to treat their own symptoms with alcohol or drugs.

Moreover, while 26 percent of those individuals admitted to having attempted suicide prior to the onset of addiction, more than 28 percent of them admitted to having attempted suicide over the course of the previous year while in active addiction. If the results of the study are to be believed, this could indicate that addiction often occurs as a result of untreated depression, but also serves to exacerbate symptoms of depression and resulting in elevated rates of suicide and addiction with depression.

What Exactly is the Relationship Between Addiction and Depression?

Studies such as that mentioned above have led to an important discussion among experts in the addiction recovery community, which is: Does depression cause addiction, or is it that addiction causes depression? In other words, the problem of determining the nature of the relationship between depression and addiction is much like solving the problem of whether the chicken or the egg came first. However, there have been four clear modes of correlation, or types of causal relationships, between addiction and depression: family history of addiction, the use of “gateway drugs” as a precursor to addiction, the presence of depression, and a history of suicide.

Whether due to having inherited genetic markers for addiction or from growing up exposed to substance abuse, research has found time and again that the offspring of addicts are significantly more susceptible to developing a chemical dependency than are the children of non-addicts. Moreover, there have been a number of studies that have identified increased instances of depression in families, but that doesn’t identify whether addiction and depression in successive generations is a genetic or environmental factor.

However, suicide has also been found with elevated frequency among the children of addicts, further confirming a familial correlation. Additionally, research indicates that those individuals who embark on the path to addiction by first abusing gateway drugs such as alcohol or marijuana are more likely to suffer from depression; according to studies, gateway drugs are more widely available and would be accessible to those who would be inclined to use them as a means of self-medicating in order to alleviate symptoms of depression.

Depression has frequently been identified as a risk factor for alcohol and drug addiction because, as mentioned, individuals who suffer from depressive symptoms tend to look for ways to alleviate those symptoms by self-medicating with gateway drugs. Similarly, those who have shown a history of either suicide attempts or suicidal ideations are also at increased risk of substance abuse, occurring for the same reasons as those who suffer from depression and develop a chemical dependency.

It’s the hope of the suicidal that frequent abuse of alcohol and illicit drugs will alleviate suicidal feelings, which leads to continued use and abuse of such drugs and accounts for such elevates rates of addiction among those who are depressive and attempt suicide. Unfortunately, addiction tends to exacerbate symptoms of depression, which is shown by the elevated rates of suicide among depressed addicts compared to non-addicts who suffer from depression.

Learn More About Suicide and Addiction Today

Rather than addiction leading to depression or depression leading to addiction, the more likely scenario is that each condition can lead and would exacerbate the symptoms of the other, indicating a complicated relationship between the two diseases. Fortunately, both depression and addiction can be managed and treated. If you or someone you love is suffering from addiction or depression and would like more information about recovery, Drug Treatment Center Finder can help. We have a team of recovery specialists available to give those in need a free consultation and assessment, matching individuals with the programs that can deliver them to a healthy, sober life. Don’t wait—call us at 855-619-8070 today.