Why do we use? The psychological reasons behind taking drugs are still being studied so we can better understand the urge toward substance abuse and addiction. In large part, we know that those of us prone to indulging in drugs are often running from or escaping something. It’s an emotional state that speaks of alienation and low self-esteem. However, the drugs we turn to don’t necessarily make these things any better. Often this substance abuse can lead even further down the tunnel toward thoughts of self-harm and suicide.
In the study of addiction, it’s not always the drugs themselves that are responsible for these thoughts and feelings. It’s more a factor of the person and his/her emotional state that is brought to the drug, however the substance is a factor in suicidal tendencies so today we examine a few drugs known to produce this disturbing side effect.
Cocaine & Amphetamines
Cocaine users are at a high risk of suicide with 5% of cocaine addicts making the attempt to take their own life. According to Professor Jutras-Aswad of the University of Montreal, users who take stimulants tend to be more impulsive and moody than others, going from one extreme to another more quickly. This could account for the propensity to hurt themselves or risk suicide.
Prescription stimulants like Adderall are notorious for producing a depressed lethargy after coming down from the excited take-on-the-world state the drug offers its users. This drop in energy and mental clarity makes life feel frustrating and futile because you aren’t firing as quickly as while on the drug. This drop from the stimulant is considered responsible for the drastic actions an addicted user might take when the supply runs dry.
As a depressant that also overcomes inhibitions, alcohol is particularly dangerous in the hands of those with depression and thoughts of suicide. Heavy drinkers are at 5 times the risk for suicide and nearly 40% of alcoholics admit to attempting suicide at least once. Many factors go into determining this risk, of course, but the numbers are staggering and give us good cause to keep a watchful eye on our friends and family members struggling with alcoholism.
The nature of opiates is one of diminishing returns wherein the euphoric feelings that a user is seeking when they get high become less and less achievable the more addicted one gets to opiate-based drugs. Prescription painkillers and heroin are notorious for leaving an addict hopelessly depressed and in pain when a supply runs dry, creating the perfect scenario for desperate measures.
While drugs themselves can’t hold all the blame for suicide, they certainly play a factor. However, suicide is far too complex to dissect in a post about substance abuse. The psychological factors that contribute to this skewed rationale are often the same underlying mental health factors that contribute to addiction and therefore the whole exploration of this condition warrants further exploration and discussion.
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