Substance abuse is one of the biggest risk factors for suicidal tendencies. Even though an individual goes through rehab and is in recovery, this does not mean the person is free from suicidal thoughts. A person with addiction is still in for a tough road in recovery with suicide as a risk factor. Learn some tips for helping a person with addiction who may be having suicidal thoughts and how best to support the journey of recovery.
Substance Abuse and Suicide
Many risk factors for suicide exist including the following:
- Psychiatric disorders
- Stressful life events
- Substance abuse
Substance abuse is a risk factor which comes second only to mood disorders like depression when determining a person’s risk for suicide. Self-medicating a mood disorder is the reason some people turn to substances to cope, but a person with substance abuse issues is more likely to have a mood disorder and be at risk of suicide.
How to Recognize Suicidal Thoughts
Thinking is the starting point of a downward spiral towards suicidal thoughts. It begins with thinking about taking one’s own life which is why recognizing the signs a person is considering suicide are important before it is too late:
- Talking about suicide
- Talking about being worthless or a burden
- Feeling hopeless about the future
- Saying goodbye or giving away personal items of value
- Withdrawing from family, friends and social circles
- Getting access to a means for suicide (gun, pills, etc)
- Suddenly acting calm after a period of expressing the above actions or behaviors
Suicide Prevention Tips
The risks and signs of suicide in an individual recovering from addiction is the best way to help a loved one. Coming home from rehab can be a harrowing experience, to face reality and be unsure about what the future holds. It is likely the individual feels lost and without direction, perhaps even grieving the loss of addiction. The following tips can be helpful:
- Support individual’s attendance at support groups, sponsorship or attending therapy
- Keep a close connection to the person by demonstrating care and support
- Offer to do things together
- Help the individual look for a job or explore educational opportunities
- Attend a hobby together or help the individual find experiences which bring joy and fulfillment
Suicidal thoughts can occur even when preventive measures are taken. Thoughts and behaviors leaning towards suicide must be taken seriously. Don’t ignore an intuitive sense that something is not quite right. Speak up and talk to the person about what is going on. Stay calm, sympathetic and listen. Offer to find the loved one a therapist for counseling.
If you or a loved one is struggling with suicidal thoughts in recovery, help is available. There is light at the end of the dark tunnel with the right support and resources. Hired Power provides opportunities to flourish in recovery. Call us to find out how we can assist you in finding the best resources for your or your loved one’s recovery.