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How Substance Use Increases Risk of Suicide

Have you ever wondered about the connection between drugs or alcohol and thoughts of suicide? At Buckeye Recovery Network, we’re here to break down this important topic in simple terms. Our outpatient treatment center in Huntington Beach, CA, is dedicated to offering support and guidance for those struggling with addiction and mental health challenges. Join us as we dive into the relationship between substance use and suicide risk, and how we can help.

Understanding the Connection Between Substance Abuse and Suicide

When we talk about the relationship between substance use and suicide risk, we’re discussing a serious issue that affects many individuals. Here’s what you need to know:

  • The Numbers: Studies show that people who use drugs or drink alcohol excessively are more likely to think about suicide or attempt it. This connection is something we take seriously because it affects so many lives.
  • Why It Happens: There are a few reasons why substance use can increase the risk of suicide. For one, drugs and alcohol can mess with your brain chemistry, making you feel more depressed or anxious. They can also make it harder to think clearly, which might lead to impulsive decisions.
  • Other Factors: Sometimes, people use drugs or alcohol to cope with difficult emotions or past traumas. But in the long run, this can make things worse and lead to even more feelings of hopelessness or despair.

How Drugs and Alcohol Affect Mental Health

Using drugs or alcohol can have a significant impact on your mental well-being, exacerbating existing challenges and creating new ones:

  • Altered Mood States: Drugs and alcohol can induce temporary feelings of euphoria or relaxation, which may initially provide relief from stress or emotional pain. However, these effects are often short-lived and give way to negative mood states such as sadness, hopelessness, or irritability once the substance wears off. This can be particularly problematic for individuals already struggling with depression or anxiety, as substance use can intensify these feelings.
  • Impaired Cognitive Functioning: Under the influence of drugs or alcohol, cognitive abilities such as decision-making, problem-solving, and judgment become impaired. This cognitive impairment can manifest as difficulty concentrating, reduced inhibitions, and impaired insight into the consequences of one’s actions. As a result, individuals may engage in risky behaviors or make poor decisions that increase their vulnerability to harm, including self-harm or suicidal thoughts.
  • Disrupted Brain Chemistry: Prolonged substance use can disrupt the delicate balance of neurotransmitters in the brain, leading to alterations in mood, cognition, and behavior. For example, alcohol suppresses the activity of neurotransmitters like glutamate and GABA, contributing to feelings of depression and anxiety. Similarly, drugs such as cocaine or methamphetamine can overstimulate the brain’s reward system, leading to dysregulation of dopamine levels and cravings for more drugs.
  • Psychological Dependence: Continued use of drugs or alcohol can lead to psychological dependence, wherein individuals rely on substances to cope with stress, regulate emotions, or numb painful memories. This dependence reinforces maladaptive coping patterns and perpetuates a cycle of substance use as a means of self-medication. Over time, this reliance on substances can exacerbate underlying mental health issues and diminish an individual’s ability to experience pleasure or satisfaction without them.
  • Social and Interpersonal Consequences: Substance use often has far-reaching social and interpersonal consequences, further complicating an individual’s mental health and well-being. Relationships may deteriorate due to conflicts related to substance use, leading to social isolation and feelings of loneliness. Employment or academic performance may suffer as a result of impaired cognitive functioning or absenteeism. These social stressors can exacerbate feelings of inadequacy or worthlessness, amplifying the risk of depression or suicidal ideation.
  • Co-Occurring Mental Health Disorders: Substance use frequently coexists with other mental health disorders, compounding the complexity of treatment and recovery. For example, individuals with co-occurring depression and substance abuse face unique challenges in managing their symptoms and may experience a more chronic and severe course of illness. Untreated mental health disorders can fuel substance use as individuals attempt to self-medicate their symptoms, perpetuating a vicious cycle of addiction and psychiatric distress.

In summary, the impact of drugs and alcohol on mental health extends beyond transient mood alterations, encompassing cognitive impairment, disruptions in brain chemistry, psychological dependence, social consequences, and co-occurring mental health disorders. Understanding these effects is crucial for developing effective interventions and support systems for individuals struggling with substance use and mental health challenges.

How Buckeye Recovery Can Help

At Buckeye Recovery Network, we understand how tough it can be to break free from the cycle of substance use and suicidal thoughts. That’s why we offer specialized programs designed to provide the support and resources you need to get back on track:

  • Personalized Support: We know that everyone’s journey to recovery is different. That’s why we offer personalized treatment plans tailored to your unique needs and goals.
  • Evidence-Based Therapy: Our programs are based on proven therapy techniques that can help you understand why you use drugs or alcohol and how to cope with difficult emotions in healthier ways.
  • Supportive Environment: You’ll be surrounded by a team of caring professionals who understand what you’re going through and are here to help you every step of the way.
  • Tools for Success: We’ll give you the tools and strategies you need to stay sober and manage your mental health, even when things get tough.
  • Continued Support: Your journey to recovery doesn’t end when you leave our program. We’ll be here to support you as you transition back into your everyday life, helping you stay on track and avoid relapse.

Call Us Today!

If you’re struggling with substance use or thoughts of suicide, know that you’re not alone. There is hope, and help is available. Contact Buckeye Recovery Network today to learn more about our outpatient treatment programs and take the first step toward a brighter future.


Substance use can significantly increase the risk of suicidal thoughts or behaviors. Studies have shown that people who use drugs or alcohol excessively are more likely to think about suicide or attempt it.

Warning signs may include talking about wanting to die or kill themselves, increased use of drugs or alcohol, withdrawal from friends and family, and engaging in risky behaviors.

Treatment options may include therapy, medication, support groups, and lifestyle changes. It’s important to find a treatment plan that works for you and addresses both your substance use and mental health needs.

Encourage them to seek help from a professional, listen without judgment, and offer your support. Let them know that they’re not alone and that help is available.

Yes, we work with a variety of insurance providers to make treatment affordable and accessible. Contact our admissions team to learn more about your coverage options.

Today is going to be the best day of your life.

Kelsey Gearhart

Director of Business Development

Kelsey carries multiple years of experience working in the substance abuse and mental health treatment field. Her passion for this field comes from her personally knowing recovery from addiction.

Prior to Buckeye she held titles of Recovery Coach, Operations Director, and Admissions Director. Kelsey was brought on at Buckeye Recovery as the Director of Business Development. She has a passion for ensuring every individual gets the help that they need, and does so by developing relationships with other providers.

Kelsey also oversees our women’s sober living environments – The Chadwick House for Women. She is committed to creating a safe, nurturing, and conducive environment for all women that walk through the doors of Chadwick.