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Understanding Addiction and Its Effect on Your Mental Health: A Suicide Toolkit

July 6, 2017

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Understanding Addiction and Its Effect on Your Mental Health: A Suicide Toolkit

July 6, 2017

Jennifer Scott runs to provide information for people with mental illness. It has been their advocacy for opening up mental health.


Addiction is a problem that millions of households around the world face, but it also poses a hidden risk. People with substance abuse disorders are six times more likely to commit suicide due to the inhibition-loss that drugs and alcohol cause. In addition, many use substance abuse as a vehicle to alleviate the symptoms of mental health disorders such as anxiety or depression. The first step in breaking free from your negative thoughts is to put a stop to your negative coping habits. While the process of working through addiction toward sobriety can be extremely difficult, there are a number of resources available that can make things go a bit more smoothly. To start the road to recovery, use the resources and tips in this toolkit to become more knowledgeable of your situation, or that of a loved one, and learn healthy coping tools.


Where to Get Help

There are several resources and organizations dedicated to helping you find the help you need. Whether it is information, a crisis hotline, or a support network, these resources will be extremely helpful as you navigate this journey.


Mental Health Resources


Substance Abuse Resources


Overcoming Your Addiction


Addiction and mental health disorders affect not only the individual who is struggling with sobriety, but everybody who is involved in that person's life as well. What are some of the best ways to deal with this type of situation?


Understanding can help pave the way to conquering it


Addiction is a chronic disease and as one works toward and through sobriety, managing issues of anxiety, stress, frustration, and fear are keys to success. Unfortunately, this is a chronic disease that can never fully go away, so getting everybody involved on the same page and utilizing specialists who can provide help and insight is crucial.


It is also important to understand how addiction negatively feeds your mental health. Substance abuse is often present in conjunction with other mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression, which can lead to suicidal thoughts and actions. This combination is referred to as a dual-diagnosis or co-occurring disorder. You may abuse drugs and alcohol to ease your depression symptoms. However, whether you are currently abusing, withdrawing, or relapsing, your mental state is severely altered, and the suicidal thoughts and risk of acting on an impulse are heightened. It becomes a negative cycle that feeds into one another, making it seem as if you will never break free. Fortunately, this is far from the truth.


Know the signs


It can be challenging to determine when use transitions into abuse, but there are some helpful guidelines available. Oftentimes when one's use turns to abuse, a person will start to lose interest in their regular activities and they may become secretive in order to hide their drinking or drug use. They may begin to engage in risky behavior and it is common to see job performance and relationships suffer. Many people facing drug or alcohol addictions also start to neglect their hygiene and experience physical withdrawal symptoms or a need for more of their substance of choice in order to experience the same effects. Likewise, those struggling with suicidal thoughts may turn to risky or abnormal behaviors such as drugs and alcohol to try to dull the feelings of hopelessness and find a momentary escape.


Watching someone spiral out of control with an alcohol or drug addiction or struggle with a mental health disorder can be heartbreaking and frustrating to watch, and it can be difficult to persuade someone that it is time to address these issues. There are numerous resources available that can assist in handling these issues, and those resources can work with both the individuals in need of help and the loved ones involved.


Specialists can guide families toward recovery options


For some, calling a helpline is a good first step, as these groups can typically direct individuals to local counselors or rehabilitation options. One highly-regarded resource is the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline that is free and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This resource can help you locate local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations for yourself or a loved one experiencing a mental health or substance abuse disorder. People are available for both English and Spanish speakers; the helpline number is 1-800-662-HELP (4357).


Many people facing a drug or alcohol addiction will find that utilizing a rehabilitation program of some nature, whether it be inpatient or outpatient, is the best way to achieve sobriety. The path to controlling an addiction is not an easy one, but help is available that can make the process somewhat less daunting.


Nearly every local community has resources available as well. While Nar-Anon and Al-Anon are two of the most common support resources for those trying to cope with substance abuse, there are online support groups for mental health too. Groups such as Alliance of Hope and SOLOS offer a community for suicide survivors, friends, and family members, as well as those currently struggling with suicidal thoughts.


Alternative Coping Strategies


Part of any recovery program, whether for mental health or substance abuse, is learning ways to cope with the feelings of stress and anxiety that the disorder causes. However, you don’t have to be in a treatment program to start implementing healthy copy methods into your daily routine. Here are a few to get you started:



If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts or substance abuse, it may seem as though there is no end in sight. You can and will overcome this, and all it takes is that first small step — seeking help. Lean on your family and friends, and build up a support network. Just one helping hand is all you need, and you’ll be well on your way to recovery.




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