An estimated 34,000 Americans die each year due to suicide, making it the 11th leading cause of death in the US, according to Psychiatric Times. Some of the most prominent risk factors for suicide attempts and suicidal ideation are mental health problems – and bipolar disorder and drug and alcohol use disorders are the most commonly diagnosed issues among those who struggle with fatal and nonfatal suicide attempts. In fact, about 90 percent of all those who complete suicide meet the diagnostic criteria for at least one mental health disorder.
When someone is diagnosed with both bipolar disorder and a substance abuse disorder, it increases the risk of suicidal ideation and suicide attempts. If your loved one is living with these co-occurring diagnoses, dual diagnosis rehab is the best option. Contact us today to learn more.
Bipolar Disorder and Suicide
Both bipolar I disorder and bipolar II disorder can increase the risk of attempted suicide. One study, published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, found that an estimated 80 percent of patients diagnosed with either type of bipolar disorder struggled with suicidal ideation and suicide attempts. They listed risk indicators as including:
- Dual diagnosis (e.g., mental health issue and substance abuse disorder together)
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Previous attempts at suicide
The prevalence of suicidal behavior in bipolar I and II disorders is similar, but the risk factors for it may differ somewhat between the two.
Substance Abuse and Suicide
Anyone who experiences low lows and attempts to mitigate those feelings with alcohol and drugs is at an increased risk of suicide attempts. In fact, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) says that substance abuse is one of the top risk factors for suicide. When one is diagnosed with a disorder that indicates a risk for suicidal ideation, then the likelihood of suicidal thoughts or actions is intensified significantly.
For patients living with bipolar disorder and substance abuse, an intensive and comprehensive treatment plan can help. Trying to focus on substance abuse first and then bipolar disorder – or vice versa – is largely ineffective when it comes to long-term stability in recovery for both disorders. Because people with bipolar disorder are often triggered to drink or get high by their mental health symptoms and their mental health symptoms usually worsen when they abuse drugs or alcohol, the ongoing issues of one untreated disorder make it next to impossible to treat the other disorder effectively.
Rather, a dual diagnosis rehab program that has the resources to provide extensive care for both disorders at the same time is recommended. Families should opt for a treatment program that offers the following:
- Medical detox if necessary
- Psychiatric evaluation and diagnosis at the onset of treatment
- A treatment plan personalized to the needs, experience and goals of the individual patient
- Medication monitoring throughout the program
- Psychotherapeutic care that addresses both bipolar disorder and substance abuse issues
- Relapse prevention assistance
- Aftercare support
The more intensive and personalized the treatment program, the more likely it is that your loved one will be able to find balance in recovery. Contact our admissions coordinators at the phone number listed above, and we can talk with you about how our programs can help.
David W. Newton is a board certified pharmacist and also has been a board member for boards of examiners for the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy since 1983. His areas of expertise are primarily pharmaceuticals as well as cannabinoids. You can read an article about his expertise in CBD on the National Library of Medicine.