The connection between substance abuse and mental health symptoms grows more evident every day. Anecdotally, almost every patient in recovery will tell you that they were attempting to overcome depression, trauma, anger or boredom by abusing drugs and alcohol – and ultimately developed a problem that was far more devastating than the original issue when they ended up with an addiction to their substance of choice.
A survey done by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) found that suicidal thoughts were far more common among those who abused drugs and alcohol as compared to the general population. More than 70,000 Americans over the age of 12 took part in the survey, and an estimated 9.4 percent of those who used drugs and alcohol reported living with suicidal thoughts as compared to 3.9 percent of the general public. Interestingly, the severity or frequency of suicidal thoughts was found to vary based on the drug of choice of the user. For example, the SAMHSA survey found the following rates of suicidal thoughts among users to be true for different illicit substances:
- Sedatives without a prescription: 20.9 percent of users
- Cocaine: 14.7 percent of users
- Painkillers without a prescription: 13 percent of users
- Marijuana: 9.6 percent of users
Dr. Peter Delany is the Director of SAMHSA’s Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. In a news release, he said: “Suicide takes a devastating toll on individuals, families and communities across our nation. We must reach out to all segments of our community to provide them with the support and treatment they need so that we can help prevent more needless deaths and shattered lives.”
Which Comes First?
In some cases, suicidal thoughts, grief, depression and struggles with trauma predate a substance abuse problem that ultimately amplifies the mental health symptom. In other cases, suicidal thoughts don’t begin until substance abuse becomes a significant issue. In both cases, it is important that both the mental health symptoms and the issues associated with drug use and abuse are addressed equally during treatment. In this way, patients can learn how to manage the symptoms that may be driving their cravings to use drugs while also learning how to moderate drug use directly.
Learn More About Treatment Today
A number of different drug abuse and addiction treatment services are available to help patients deal with their personal obstacles to recovery. Contact us at Axis today to learn more about our evidence-based treatment options and how we can help your loved one and your family begin the healing process today.