The Connection Between Opioid Addiction and Suicide
Opioid addiction can turn a person’s life upside down in a short period of time, making normal tasks difficult and creating personal turmoil that can be a difficult task to overcome. Abusing opioids can be the result of a combination of social factors and can be fueled by an overall lack of meaning in one’s life, eventually leading to a feeling of hopelessness. An addiction can contribute to a person’s depression and mental health issues, and can exacerbate existing mental health issues. In the worst case scenario, an addiction can eventually contribute to a person committing suicide, a tragic end to difficult life circumstances.
The Causes of Opioid Addiction
An addiction to opioids is a chronic condition which can cause many health, social, and economic problems. These substances are in a class of drugs which act within the nervous system in order to produce feelings of pain relief and pleasure. Without a doubt, these substances can provide an immense amount of reduction to the pain a person experiences. But if a person is struggling with other life difficulties or conditions, they may be at risk for an opioid addiction forming.
There are many physical and psychological components that make up an opioid addiction. Factors that have been demonstrated to increase the chances of a person developing an opioid addiction include things such as having a substance abuse history, struggling with mental health-related issues such as depression, and experiencing childhood trauma or abuse.
Specific personality traits, including having a high tendency for impulsivity and sensation-seeking, may also contribute to an opioid addiction. Additionally, genetic factors have been shown to play a role in making opioids more pleasurable and addictive to specific individuals. Other factors, such as living in poverty, having easy access to the drugs, and other lifestyle factors may also lead a person to become addicted to opioids.
Because of their potency, opioids can be an extremely addictive substance to begin using, especially if a person is prone to dependent behaviors or is struggling with other psychological issues. Often times, opioids which are legally prescribed to an individual end up in the hands of another person, who then misuses and abuses this substance. When an individual is addicted to opioids, they may end up prioritizing their life around their substance use, leading to negative impacts to their personal and professional life.
The Link Between Opioid Addiction and Suicide
Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the U.S. population’s life expectancy had suffered the longest decline since World War 1, a shocking statistic for the wealthiest nation in the world. Many experts have pointed to both suicide and drug overdoses as a primary reason for the recent drop in life expectancy. But often times, these two reasons are linked, as many overdoses may actually be suicides. Although it is believed that most overdoses are not intentional suicides, there are many cases where an overdose is actually an intentional act of taking one’s life.
Of the cases the CDC analyzed from 2000 to 2017, approximately 10 percent of suicides were the result of an intentional overdose, and a third of the substances used for this act were opioids. Deaths as the result of suicide rose about 60 percent during this time period while the amount of deaths as the result of opioid-related suicide nearly doubled. In 2017, there were 1,887 incidents in America of an individual committing suicide as the result of an intentional overdose. The New England Journal of Medicine estimates that as many as 30 percent of all overdoses from opioids may actually be intentionally caused events.
The reasons why there is a link between opioid addiction and suicide are varied, but many researchers point to an overlap between the root causes of mental health conditions and addictions. For example, many of the things that may cause someone to become suicidal, including depression and life stressors, may also lead a person to make riskier choices, such as to begin to abuse opioids.
Chronic physical and psychological pain are a primary reason why individuals become addicted to opioids as well as become suicidal. A link has been established between suicide and chronic pain, and there is also a similar overlap between opioid addiction and suicide. In fact, people who use opioids regularly are actually 75 percent more likely to make suicide plans and twice as likely to attempt to take their own life as individuals who did not report any opioid use. It’s clear that individuals who are suffering from some form of pain are more likely to abuse painkillers as well as struggle with suicidality.
The complex nature of both suicide and addiction make this problem specific to an individual’s unique circumstances. However, many researchers have determined that a link exists between the reasons for both opioid addiction and suicide. Factors such as social isolation and a lack of economic opportunity are major causes of both hopelessness and a tendency to abuse opioids. Combine this with a rise in the overall availability of these substances and it can be easy to see why there has been such an exponential increase in the amount of both suicides and overdoses from opioids.
Getting Help for Opioid Addiction and Mental Health
If you or someone you know is struggling with opioid abuse and is feeling hopeless, it’s critical to address the issue before things become worse. Arizona Addiction is a trusted resource for clients seeking to conquer their opioid addiction and attain the quality of life they deserve. We understand that opioid addiction often consists of multiple factors, and our clinicians work directly with our clients to develop a holistic treatment plan which addresses all of these issues. Your treatment may include a combination of talk therapy, medicinal replacement therapy, and peer support services.
Arizona Addiction provides the most up-to-date information for our clients, ensuring you are empowered with the latest tools and resources necessary to achieve sobriety. We are committed to providing our clients with an effective and targeted approach that provides an accessible road to recovery. Contact our trusted team of caring professionals today to begin your road to recovery.
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