Is My Alcoholic Family Member at Risk of Suicide?

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Is My Alcoholic Family Member at Risk of Suicide?

Alcoholism is a devastating disease that can rip apart families, destroy careers, and jeopardize physical health. If you have a loved one who is struggling with alcoholism, these terrible outcomes aren’t the only reason quitting is extremely important.

Alcohol abuse significantly raises an individual’s risk of taking their own life. Find out more about the connection between alcohol and suicide below. Then, reduce your loved one’s risk by helping them get professional help today.

Alcohol and Impulsivity

A certain amount of control is required to successfully thrive in society. One must be able to resist the urges and temptations that are dangerous to health, relationships, and careers. In general, addicts have difficulty controlling their impulses and resisting destructive behaviors, a characteristic known as impulsivity.

This trait is only amplified once the alcoholic starts drinking. Numerous studies reveal that alcohol hinders the activity of serotonin in the brain, thereby causing impulsive behaviors and aggression.

Your loved one becomes disinhibited while drinking, which means having a loss of disregard for social conventions, poor risk assessment, and lack of restraint. As a result, they are more likely to think about suicide and act on any suicidal thoughts impulsively.

Binge Drinking and Suicide

Another factor that increases one’s risk of suicide is binge drinking. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, binge drinking is defined as having more than 5 drinks for men and 4 drinks for women in a 2 hour period.

Bouts of heavy drinking strongly impair judgment, increase one’s feeling of social isolation, and are correlated with higher risk of suicidal behavior. Even if your loved one is not alcohol dependent, going on a binge can be dangerous. This is especially true if your family member is also battling a mental disorder like depression.

Psychiatric Disorder and Suicidality

Alcohol dependency is linked to approximately 18% of completed suicides (Sher, 2010), with alcoholism being the strongest predictor of suicide in some studies. Sadly, the probability of suicide rises with the presence of a psychiatric disorder such as depression, anxiety, or schizophrenia.

As you may know, numerous alcoholics warrant comorbid diagnoses of mental illnesses. In fact, in the study conducted by Sher (2), depression and alcoholism were comorbid in 85% of completed suicide cases. In addition to mood disorder, research has shown that male alcoholics, particularly those above age 60, are at an increasingly high risk of suicide.

Other potential risk factors include:

  • loss of a job
  • financial/legal problems
  • divorce
  • recent loss or death
  • history of abuse
  • early onset of drinking
  • access to firearms
  • past history of suicidality

Fortunately, Avalon Malibu offers a safe and confidential environment for your loved one to receive the treatment they deserve. Plus, the facility is one of only a few in your area that is qualified to treat primary diagnoses of psychiatric disorders.

Maybe your loved one has not yet been diagnosed with alcohol dependency, but shows signs binge drinking and/or mental illness that you believe puts them at risk for suicide. Contact the team of professionals to help your family member get started healing today. Your loved one can overcome thoughts of suicide, recover from alcoholism, and feel whole again.


Sources:

  1. Pompili, M., Serafini, G., Innamorati, M., Dominici, G., Ferracuti, S., Kotzalidis, G.D., Serra, G., Girardi, P., Janiri, L., Tatarelli, R., Sher, L. & Lester, D. Suicidal behavior and alcohol abuse. US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health. April 2010. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2872355/
  2. Sher, L. Alcohol consumption and suicide. Oxford University Press. November 2005. http://qjmed.oxfordjournals.org/content/99/1/57
  3. Potenza, M.N. & de Wilt, H. Control yourself: Alcohol and impulsivity. US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health. November 2013. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3822522/
  4. Binge drinking. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. January 2014. http://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/binge-drinking.htm

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