Addiction is often said to be a disease of the mind and body, which is certainly true. Both addiction and mental illness can take one’s mind to very dark places, and when they do, suicide may often appear as the light at the end of the tunnel. However, there is another way through.
Recovery from addiction and untreated mental health issues is possible. With the right treatment and support, suicidal thoughts can be overcome.
Understanding Addiction and its Connection to Mental Health
Addiction is a complex disease that can profoundly affect every aspect of a person’s life. It often starts with misusing alcohol or drugs, but it quickly takes over and changes how the brain works. This can lead to memory, decision-making, and impulse control problems, making it especially difficult for those with addiction to cope with tough emotions like stress and anxiety.
It’s important to understand that addiction is not just a physical disease that affects the brain. Addiction also has a strong psychological component – one that can exist before an addiction develops.
Still, whichever comes first, co-occurring mental illness affects more than 15% of Canadians with a substance use disorder. By the same token, people struggling with addiction are up to three times more likely to have a mental illness.
The Alarming Impact of Addiction and Untreated Mental Health Issues
Mental health conditions are the most common risk factor for suicidal ideas, suicide attempts, and completed suicide. When people struggling with addiction turn to further drug use to numb difficult emotions or escape from a painful reality, it inadvertently makes these issues worse.
The vicious cycle that addiction and untreated mental issues can trigger makes it even more difficult to manage the challenges of everyday life. It’s a cycle that can put one at greater risk for suicide, as 90% of all people who commit suicide meet the diagnostic criteria for a psychiatric disorder.
Substance use disorder is also a major risk factor for suicide. People who abuse substances or depend on them are six times more likely to attempt suicide than those who do not.
The bottom line is that addiction can fuel mental health issues like anxiety and depression. Mental health issues can lead to substance abuse as a way of self-medicating. This complex relationship can make it difficult to determine which issue came first. However, both play a role in suicide, and recovery is possible when both are addressed.
Addiction, Mental Health Issues, and Recovery
September is Suicide Prevention Month. As we come together to raise awareness, it’s important to remember that addiction and recovery are integral pieces of the puzzle.
Recovery from addiction is an important step in treating mental health issues and vice versa. Addressing both problems is essential to preventing suicide. By understanding the unique role that each plays, we can provide more effective treatment for people facing addiction and mental health issues.
At Sunshine Coast Health Centre, we don’t only treat addiction, trauma, depression, or anxiety — we treat you and address every issue you are facing when you are here. Please get in touch with us if you need support for untreated addiction or mental health issues. We are here to help.
If you or someone you know needs immediate assistance for suicidal thoughts or a mental health or substance use crisis, call or text the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988, day or night.