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Substance Abuse and Suicide

substance abuseCompared with the general population, new research has found that those with substance use disorders are more likely to consider suicide.[1] In fact, the report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) states that the rate of suicidal thoughts were 3.9 percent in the general population, which soared to an average of 9.4 percent in illicit drug users.1

SAMHSA went on to report that the percentage of adults with addiction varied with the type of illicit substance used.1 Of those who used marijuana, 9.6 percent had suicidal thoughts.1 Also, 14.2 percent of those who used hallucinogens had suicidal thoughts, as well as 14.7 percent who used cocaine, 17.4 percent who used inhalants, 13.0 percent who used pain relievers for nonmedical use, 14.0 percent who used tranquilizers, 18.1 percent who used stimulants, and 20.9 percent who used sedatives.1

In 2012, there was an estimated 23.9 million Americans, aged 12 or older, who were current illicit drug users.[2] This represents 9.2 percent of the United States’ population of that age group.2 Unfortunately, the rate of current illicit drug use has risen from 8.1 percent in 2008 to 9.2 percent in 2012.2

Approximately 23.6 million of those with a substance use disorder needed treatment in 2012; however, only 2.5 million received it.2 Of those millions who did not receive care, 94.6 percent believed they did not need treatment.2 Another 3.7 percent felt that they did need treatment yet did not make an effort to seek help.2 A mere 1.7 percent felt they needed treatment and did make an effort to seek help.2 However, without insurance or with insurance that did not adequately cover the cost of substance abuse treatment, more than 50 percent ended up paying for what they could by using their own savings or earnings.2 Another approximate 25 percent needed to borrow from family members.2 This was the number one reason why treatment was not adequately received in that 1.7 percent who sought help.2

According to Peter Delany, Director of SAMHSA’s Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Health, “Suicide takes a devastating toll on individual, families, and communities across our nation. We must reach out to all segments of our community to provide them with the support and treatment they need to that we can help prevent more needless deaths and shattered lives.”1



[2] Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Results from the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Summary of National Findings, NSDUH Series H-46, HHS Publication No. (SMA) 13-4795. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2013.

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