World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD) is a poignant annual event that raises awareness about the global issue of suicide and the importance of supporting individuals struggling with suicidal thoughts. People worldwide come together yearly to reflect on this grave concern and discuss ways to prevent it. In the backdrop of this solemn occasion, it is crucial to address the interconnected issue of drug addiction, as it often contributes to suicidal tendencies.
Addiction and suicide often feed into each other. As a person’s world falls apart and they fall deeper into despair, many turn to drugs to numb the pain. Individuals often use drugs to take their own lives. This mutually sustained cycle is verified by statistics, as 40% of suicides involve opiate or alcohol use.
World Suicide Prevention Day is also an opportunity to acknowledge that the dangerous cycle of drug addiction and suicide is preventable. At MAT Care Clinics, we specialize in one of the most effective addiction interventions: medication-assisted treatment. This form of therapy provides the support you need to kick addiction while ensuring you have the flexibility to focus on your mental health and responsibilities.
As we commemorate World Suicide Prevention Day, remember that we all have a role in supporting individuals struggling with addiction and suicidal thoughts. If you know someone who is struggling, share this with them. This article delves into the history of World Suicide Prevention Day, the relationship between drug addiction and suicide, and the role of Medication-Assisted Treatment in saving lives and promoting mental well-being.
The History of World Suicide Prevention Day
The first celebration of World Suicide Prevention Day was in 2003, following the joint initiative of the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) and the World Health Organization (WHO). The aim was to provide a platform for open dialogue and collaboration among countries, organizations, and communities to address the growing global concern of suicide. Since then, WSPD has been observed annually on September 10th, each year focusing on a specific theme to shed light on different aspects of suicide prevention.
The overarching goal of World Suicide Prevention Day is to raise awareness about suicide, reduce the stigma surrounding mental health issues, and encourage individuals and communities to take action to prevent suicide. It serves as a reminder that suicide is preventable and that we can support those struggling.
The Nexus of Drug Use and Suicide
Drug addiction frequently contributes to suicide, leading to despair and providing a means to end a life. It’s essential to recognize the following key aspects of this complex issue:
1. Substance Abuse as a Coping Mechanism: People dealing with emotional pain, trauma, or mental health issues may turn to drugs or alcohol as a means of escape or self-medication. However, this often exacerbates their underlying problems.
2. Impulsivity and Impaired Judgment: Substance abuse can impair judgment, leading to impulsive decisions, including suicide attempts. The frequency of alcohol intoxication during suicide attempts indicates that many individuals drink to prepare themselves for the act and let go. This impaired decision-making can be particularly dangerous during periods of suicidal ideation.
3. Depression and Despair: Substance use disorder (SUD) co-occurs with many mental health conditions, contributing to a person’s decline and misery. Many individuals who struggle with drug addiction also experience depression, hopelessness, and despair. These feelings can intensify suicidal thoughts and behaviors.
4. Withdrawal and Cravings: Trying to quit or reduce substance use can lead to withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Alcohol, opiates, and benzodiazepines have particularly harsh withdrawal periods that require management. These can be overwhelming and contribute to suicidal ideation.
5. Overdose: Accidental overdose or suicide attempts involving substances can be fatal, increasing suicide mortality rates. Sometimes, an overdose is indistinguishable from a suicide attempt, as addicts may value their lives so little they stop worrying about consequences.
6. Access to Lethal Means: Drug use often provides individuals access to lethal means, making it easier for them to carry out a suicide attempt.
Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT): A Lifeline for Recovery
Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is an evidence-based approach to addressing drug addiction, particularly for substances like opioids and alcohol. MAT combines FDA-approved medications with counseling and behavioral therapies to provide a comprehensive treatment approach. It is a powerful tool for breaking the cycle of addiction and, in turn, reducing the risk of suicide among individuals struggling with substance use disorders.
1. Reducing Suicidal Risk: MAT not only addresses addiction but also lowers the risk of suicide in several ways. Drugs severely alter an individual’s brain chemistry, and the body relies on substances to function at a sub-optimal level. By stabilizing an individual’s life, mental state, and impulsive urges, MAT can help reduce the hopelessness and despair that often lead to suicidal thoughts.
2. Long-Term Recovery: MAT is associated with higher rates of retention in treatment, which increases the chances of long-term recovery. This stability is essential in providing hope, preventing relapse, and reducing the risk of overdose or other suicide-related incidents.
3. Reducing the Stigma of Addiction: MAT can potentially reduce the stigma associated with addiction. When individuals receive evidence-based medical treatment for their addiction, it can help them feel more accepted and less judged. This change in perception can lead to improved mental health and reduced feelings of isolation, factors that contribute to suicide risk.
The Stigma Surrounding MAT
Despite its proven effectiveness, Medication-Assisted Treatment faces significant stigma in many societies. Some common misconceptions about MAT include:
1. Replacing One Addiction with Another: Critics argue that using medications replaces one addiction with another. However, healthcare professionals carefully prescribe and manage these treatments to help individuals regain control over their lives. Specifically, medications like Suboxone, Sublocade, Vivitrol, and Naltrexone have little chance of abuse due to their administration. Experts oversee their use in clinics, dispensing them with exacting schedules like once a week or once a month.
2. Lack of Abstinence: Some people believe proper recovery is only possible through complete abstinence from all substances. While abstinence may be the goal for some, recovery is not a one-size-fits-all. Many individuals have responsibilities they can’t walk away from, like jobs, school, or family. MAT offers a realistic and evidence-based approach for those struggling to achieve immediate sobriety.
MAT Care Clinics and Suicide Prevention
Sometimes, it can feel like the world is spinning out of control, and the bottom will fall out anytime. No matter how bad you think the situation is, we are here to help. Medication-assisted therapy is a proven way to help you achieve sobriety and avoid the road toward hopelessness. With some of the safest medications available, we can ease the pain of recovery and integrate wellness into your daily life without upending your commitments.