The Link Between Suicidal Thoughts and Teen Substance Abuse

Suicide slices across America. Suicide is the second leading cause of death amongst young Americans. 12 million Americans report having serious suicidal thoughts.

Suicidal thoughts can be extremely difficult for teens to deal with. One reason is that suicidal thoughts and substance abuse in teens can accompany each other.

Why are the two connected? How can self-loathing lead to drug use? What are some treatment options for suicidal ideation and substance abuse?

Answer these questions and you can live a full life free from substance abuse. Here is your quick guide.

Self-Medication

A teen may have thoughts that they cannot control or ignore. They may turn to substances as a means of controlling their thoughts.

While they are preparing to take drugs or while they are high, they do not notice their thoughts. Teen substance abuse can be communal, so someone may use drugs to be around others and avoid thinking.

Teenagers can mirror what their parents do. If a teen sees their parent use drugs to cope with stress, they will be inclined to do so as well.

Many drugs make a person feel happier or more energetic, at least for a short period of time. Someone may take drugs for these effects.

But as time goes on, these effects start to lessen. Teen drug addition can lead to depression, which can return a teen to suicidal thoughts.

Self-Loathing

Some teens may use drugs for the opposite purpose. They may want to harm themselves, but they don’t want to die or do too much damage. They may use drugs as a means of self-punishment.

Self-loathing can lead to an extreme level of substance abuse. Someone may try different combinations of drugs, mixing alcohol with hard substances. They may drink and drive or perform risky activities while they are high.

Treatment Options

If a teen has suicidal thoughts and substance problems, both conditions need treatment. Treatment options for each can overlap with each other, and someone can receive help for both at once.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy can provide comprehensive treatment. A teen can work with a therapist on identifying the negative thought patterns that create suicidal tendencies and substance abuse. Over time, they replace these patterns with productive and affirming ones.

Group therapy can also be helpful. Someone can hear stories from other people with similar experiences as them. They can learn about coping strategies and get affirmation from others about their life stories.

The Connections Between Suicidal Thoughts and Substance Abuse

Suicidal thoughts are difficult for teens because they can trigger substance abuse. Some people find drug use distracting or stimulating, which can alleviate their thoughts.

Other teens use drugs to punish or harm themselves for things they think they did. This can lead to overdoses and complications.

The key is to find treatment for both suicidal thoughts and substance use. Talk therapy can help a teen change their damaging thought patterns. Group therapy can help them figure out how to cope with stress and affirm their stories.

Don’t give up. Read more suicide prevention guides by following our coverage.

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