Addiction and Suicide

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Addiction and suicide are, surprisingly to some, not mental health problems that we have a lot of research touching on. There are countless great studies looking at substance use disorder from countless different angles. Likewise, there are many people working hard to better understand the issues around suicide. As distinct as these two gigantic societal problems may look to some people, there have more recently been studies who undertook the great challenge of dealing with both addiction and suicide at the same time. The best drug and alcohol rehab in Florida, Florida Springs Wellness and Recovery Center, deals with addiction or SUD on a daily basis, but suicidal ideation is common in their patients during various times in life, so it makes complete sense to look at the problems in tandem some of the time.

The Size of The Problem

Suicide is at an all time high in the United Stated during the Covid-19 pandemic. Many people have attributed this to isolation, which makes complete sense, but more time will need to pass, and we will need more research to better understand this phenomenon. First, globally, suicide kills about a million people each year. Substance Use Disorder, or Addiction, is also at an all-time high and growing faster than ever. There were roughly 15,000 meth overdoses resulting in death last year in the US alone, and there were roughly 70,000 opioid (Heroin, Fentanyl, Oxycontin) overdoses resulting in death last year in the US. If Alcohol related deaths are included in those terribly alarming statistics, the numbers jump by hundreds of thousands a year just in the US. This means that each and every year roughly .2% of the gigantic US population is dying at the hands of substances, without any suicide included, and I am not knowledgeable enough to say that most or all of these deaths are preventable. I can say that at the best drug and alcohol rehabs, like at our Panama City Florida Springs Drug and Alcohol Rehab, people do recover; A lot of people recover all over the US. Suicide and addiction are two of the biggest killers, and therefore, biggest problems of our time. Their wreckage reaches back decades. If you include tobacco, which I have only talked about sparingly on this blog, the number of deaths per year from addictive substances jumps to around 1 million.

Suicide and Addiction in Veterans of Military Service

We know from previous studies strong correlations exist between serving in the armed forces and suicide. As I mentioned, limited data exists on the connections that may exist between substance use disorder and suicide, but the July 2017 issue of the Journal Addiction attempted to measure this problem among service members. Here are some of their initial statements,

“Background and Aims: Limited information is available regarding links between specific substance use disorders (SUDs) and suicide mortality; however, the preliminary evidence that is available suggests that suicide risk associated with SUDs may differ for men and women. This study aimed to estimate associations between SUDs and suicide for men and women receiving Veterans Health Administration (VHA) care.”

It should also be noted, as in a previous blog, that homeless and migrant populations are very hard to include in this kind of data, so it is very likely the number of U.S. veterans who are suffering or committing suicide is worse than it will appear even from the scariest of these numbers. Now we can look at some of the hard data that the study uncovered. Although the VA study measured roughly 91% males and 9% females, because the total population in the military skews male and also the total population of veterans seeking treatment at the VA skews male, many more males were included in the study. With that said, the authors took that into consideration and all results were done on a per capita basis. Again, quoting from the study for final results,

“In the unadjusted models (model 1) all current SUDs, as well as any current SUD, were associated significantly with increased risk of suicide among both men and women; however, the strength of the association was approximately two‐ to threefold greater for women than men.”

In all cases, woman seemed to be at greater risk in all cases. The authors knew that the lower percentage and numbers of women in the study could skew the data but adjusting for that imbalance only made it slightly closer; women who served are at much greater risk of addiction, but man and women who served are both well above average population levels for addiction and suicide. Whether or not you served in the military, if you are struggling with addiction, especially addiction with other mental health disorders, please call the best drug and alcohol rehab in Panama City, Florida: Florida Springs Wellness and Recovery Center. If you think you live too far away, your insurance or the facility itself may be able to pay for a bus ticket or other transportation.

By T.A. Cannon (Contact me at

“Substance use disorders and the risk of suicide mortality among men and women in the US Veterans Health Administration.” Bohnert et al. Journal “Addiction”, July 2017.