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Suicide Risks in Recovery


Although people who enter addiction treatment intend to set out on a path to better their lives and health, there are unexpected mental health factors that can impact their progress. Currently, suicide is a public health concern in the United States, showing worrisome statistics across many demographics. It’s important for people in recovery and loved ones of those who have struggled with addiction to understand the importance of mental health and the heightened risk of suicidal ideation they may face. Awareness, education, and prevention are vital to helping those suffering in silence.


Current Statistics:

  • Suicide is the 12th leading cause of death in the US

  • In 2020, nearly 46,000 Americans died by suicide

  • Approximately 1.2 million suicide attempts were reported in 2020

  • Suicide rates are highest among middle-aged white men

  • Men died by suicide almost 4 times more than women

  • On average, there are 130 suicides per day

  • In 2020, drug-induced deaths increased by 30%


The Link between Addiction and Suicide

Many people who misuse substances deal with untreated mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, and more. Those individuals may seek out drugs and alcohol to deal with their poor mental health symptoms, which can quickly spiral into addiction. With careful observation, experts have begun to look closely at recent overdose deaths and have found links to cases of previous suicide attempts or the patient’s indifference to prior overdose experiences. This has led to the hypothesis that some overdose death cases may be intentional as a means of suicide and should be labeled as deaths of despair.


Safe-proofing Recovery

People working hard in recovery are aware of potential relapse triggers and ways to recognize the various phases of impending relapse. Still, relapse is part of recovery, not failure. With relapse rates still relatively high among those in recovery, it’s imperative that patients are equipped with resources in the event they have a lapse.


For many, the devastation of relapse can send them into a tailspin of self-doubt and depression, putting them at a significantly higher risk of overdose. The top ways to reduce the risk of suicidal ideation post-relapse include the following:

  • Post-relapse immediate recovery plan put in place with the help of a substance use counselor that includes emergency contact numbers and resources

  • Access to immediate detox treatment through a medical provider to prevent further use

  • A support network of mentors and friends who are experienced with the recovery process, usually people who have connected through group therapy sessions

  • Immediate mental health resources to address worsening symptoms of depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation

  • Re-enrollment into MAT or other recovery services, with a focus on substance use counseling


Relapse isn’t a stop sign on the recovery journey; it’s merely a road bump that can be left behind on the path. Many people who have successfully achieved long-term sobriety have struggled with their mental health and overcome obstacles that have gotten in their way by having the right prevention plan in place. To learn more about addiction treatment and addiction mental health services, message or call a RSONM clinic today.


Help is available: Dial or text 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline


Hours: Available 24 hours. Languages: English, Spanish.

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