When you think about it, drug and alcohol addiction is like a slow suicide. You may not want to end your life in the heat of the moment. But you do permit the gradual poisoning of your mind and body.
Some people also get strong suicidal thoughts and urges during their active addiction and subsequent recovery. Many people who become sober can stop the slow self-harm of addiction before much permanent damage is done. But too many die in tragic ways during an active drug or alcohol addiction. Understanding the risks of depression and suicide associated with addiction can help you or your loved one make the choice to get help.
Impaired Impulse Control and Judgment
When someone is addicted to drugs or alcohol, they go all the way each time. They drink to get drunk and use drugs to get high. When this happens, the physiological effects become overwhelming. And that is usually the point for the addict, because excessive intoxication is what it takes to escape reality every day.
Unfortunately, heavy drug or alcohol use also impairs the basic functions that allow a person to live safely. Judgment becomes distorted and unreliable. A highly intoxicated person can easily misjudge oncoming traffic, their risk for falling, or the wisdom of provoking an aggressive person. Impulse control is also reduced with high levels of intoxication. Part of this comes from the immediate side effects of the drug or alcohol. The person’s cycle of compulsive behavior and obsessive thoughts allow them to answer their impulses to drink or use drugs. This impulsiveness often disrupts other areas of a person’s life.
Impaired Judgment Increases Suicide Danger
When it comes to addiction, the risk of suicide multiplies in a scary way. When poor judgment and poor impulse control combine, the despair and emptiness so many addicts live with every day is increased exponentially. At some point, multiple problems begin to pile up. The negativity of an addicted mind seizes the opportunity to drive the point home. Thoughts of, “I’m worthless, it’s all pointless, nobody would care, everyone would be better off if I ended it now, this won’t get better, there’s no hope,” spin out of control. A sober suicidal person may be able to reach out for help or at least stop themselves from taking action, but a highly intoxicated suicidal person is far more likely to act on an impulse that puts them in harm’s way. And if someone already has depression or a history of suicide, the pathway to suicidal thoughts and actions is even more likely. People who are intoxicated may make suicidal gestures in order to get attention. Unfortunately, they may die accidentally because they misjudged the risk of their actions.
Curb Suicide Risk by Getting Sober Today
The best way to reduce the risk of suicide is to get sober now. It may take a while for an addict’s life to really turn around, but the suicide risk will drop significantly. As things improve, a recovering addict may have less reason to consider suicide in the first place. But just to be safe, anyone with a history of suicidal thoughts or attempts should always have a safety plan as part of their larger recovery plan. Find out more about getting sober by calling us today at 760.548.4032.
 The Mayo Clinic. “Drug Addiction,” December 5, 2014. Accessed March 28, 2017. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/drug-addiction/basics/definition/con-20020970
 Carolyn C. Ross M.D., M.P.H. “Suicide: One of Addiction’s Hidden Risks,” Psychology Today, February 20, 2014. Accessed March 28, 2017.