Melissa Howard operates the stopsuicide.info website. Her mission is to further education about suicide in order to ultimately put an end to suicide once and for all. Melissa is the author of numerous articles and is working on a book related to emotional wellness. People with substance abuse problems are more likely to commit suicide than the rest of the population. Melissa is passionate about helping others to understand that if we can find a way to treat the underlying drug and alcohol addiction problems, we will effectively reduce the number of suicides.
Elevated Billing Solutions helps behavioral health and addiction treatment facilities to treat more patients through various means including expert navigation of the insurance management process and a special partnership program. Elevated Billing is the key sponsor of the 10,000 Beds #ontheroad4recovery program which helps people with drug and alcohol addiction problems to get needed treatment despite having limited financial resources.
Q: What is the connection between suicide and substance abuse?
Melissa: Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States according to the Centers for Disease Control. Depression and mood disorders are the primary contributing factors in suicide deaths each year; however, alcohol and drug abuse come in a close second. In fact, alcoholism is the leading predictor of suicide, ranking higher than a psychiatric diagnosis. Individuals with substance abuse problems are approximately six times more likely to commit suicide than those in the general population. In many cases, substance abuse is more than a factor; it’s the cause of death. About one in three people who commit suicide do so under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Clearly, the link between substance abuse and suicide is a close one and a major reason why it’s so important to recognize the signs of addiction and to know how and when to intervene.
Q: How can a person recognize the signs of substance abuse problems and suicide risk in others close to them?
Melissa: It can be difficult to recognize when someone you know has a problem with drugs or alcohol. Generally speaking, the individual in question will exhibit self-destructive behavior which, in and of itself may or may not be an indication. However, when it becomes apparent that he isn’t able to stop, it’s a very strong indication that there’s a serious problem at work. Lying, stealing, and uncharacteristically aggressive or risk-taking behavior are also signs that substance abuse has your loved one in its grips.
Q: What can a person do who is concerned about people with addiction problems?
Melissa: When someone can’t stop using drugs or alcohol, it’s time to find help through treatment. Unfortunately, knowing how to intervene can be very difficult. You may be fearful it’ll ruin your relationship or cause their addiction to worsen. If so, bear in mind the high rate of suicide among substance abusers and the cost of not taking action.
Q: What is involved with getting help for people with substance abuse issues.
Melissa: It’s important to understand that treatment means more than going through detox. If underlying psychological and emotional issues aren’t confronted, the individual is highly likely to relapse into addictive behavior and resume their self-destructive course. Getting help starts with counseling and a diagnosis before a treatment strategy can be identified and the healing process may begin in earnest.
Q: What if the person refuses my help?
Melissa: Consider the following points if you find yourself needing to help someone who refuses to get help.
The right time
Confronting the problem is never easy or comfortable, and you need to find the right time to broach the subject. First and foremost, never talk to them about their substance abuse problem if they’ve been drinking or using drugs. In an inebriated state, they’re more likely to resist and may even become violently resistant to the idea and toward you. You need them to be thinking clearly and in full possession of their faculties.
As a caring friend, you may be inclined to do whatever you believe is necessary to help a friend struggling with addiction. That could include loaning them money, providing a place to stay, or covering for them at work. Recognize that this is the time for tough love and that you can’t help them if they’re unwilling to help themselves.
Talk with an addiction counselor to learn as much as you can about addiction and how you can and should help. A counselor will help you understand why enabling makes the situation worse, and that an addict will say anything if it means getting you off their back. A counselor can help you prepare for the obstacles and objections you’re likely to face when confronting a loved one about seeking help.
Don’t be afraid to step in and help if a loved one is clearly in trouble with drugs or alcohol. Learn how to approach the problem and what to expect when you do raise the issue. Be prepared to stand your ground and refuse to enable your friend’s problem.
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