Over the last 15 years, the suicide rate has climbed by an estimated 32%. While the overdose deaths in relation to the opioid crisis have become a constant issue around the country, some researchers suggest that the real suicide rates are even higher, but some of them are being misclassified as overdoses.
So, are more people dying due to drug abuse, or are more people taking their own lives using powerful street drugs and prescription narcotics?
Studying Suicide and Drugs
The idea that many of the deaths recorded as opioid overdoses may have been suicides, according to the researchers, is due to a significant gap between suicide rates and intoxication mortality rates.
A study from the Luskin School of Public Affairs at the University of California, Los Angeles, was published in the journal PLOS One. This study states that both suicide and drug intoxication death rates in the United States have risen over a period of 15 years. Researchers compiled data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to show:
- 2000- The suicide rate was 10.40 per 100,000 people
- 2015- Suicide rate rose to 13.75 deaths per 100,000 people
- 2000- Drug intoxication mortality rate for those over the age of 15 was 7.81 deaths per 100,000
- 2015- Drug intoxication death rate for those over the age of 15 rose to 20.07 per 100,000 in 2015
This means that the drug intoxication death rate rose by 257% in those 15 years, while suicide rates only rose by 32%. While 32% is still a devastating number when it comes to such a tragic circumstance, there is still a huge difference between 32% and 257%. These researchers believe this major difference in the reports of mortality rates suggests a lack of suicide reporting.
Difficulties in Death Investigation
One of the big problems, according to the study’s author Mark Kaplan, is resources. Kaplan is a professor of social welfare at UCLA, and he stated to local news sources,
“Unfortunately, part of the problem is due to serious under-resourcing of state and local death investigation systems throughout most of the U.S.
“Many of these deaths were probably suicides, yet reported as accidental self-poisoning rather than intentional self-harm, particularly among the middle-aged.”
The study by Kaplan and his colleagues further explains that when it comes to suicide by overdose, things like an individual’s psychiatric history or the presence of a suicide note are crucial to helping professionals identify a death as a suicide.
“A suicide note, prior suicide attempt or affective disorder was documented in less than one-third of suicides and one-quarter of undetermined deaths,”
“Our incorporation of undetermined deaths, as well as registered suicides, not only provided a window on the nature of suicide misclassification within the undetermined death category but within the accident category—as a much larger reservoir for obscuring drug intoxication suicides.”
So by acknowledging that there is not always an obvious indication that a death is a suicide, even in cases that are classified in suicide, the researchers believe that many deaths that involved drugs have most likely been categorized as overdoses instead of making a deeper inquiry into the circumstances surrounding an individual’s death.
Opioids Causing Ambiguity
With the opioid crisis in America, it has become even more difficult to measure the suicide rates. And that isn’t just this research teams opinion either.
In 2015, the CDC hosted a meeting to address the challenges presented for medical examiners and coroners across the country. The primary focus was concerning cases of fatal intoxication due to opioids and other drugs. The summary of this meeting concluded that drug intoxication deaths may be among the most difficult to determine regarding the manner of death. The summary notes that reasons for such difficulty in having a more accurate manner of death include:
- Potentially equivocal evidence
- Intent to die
- Overlapping demographic groups affected
- Overlapping premorbid risk factors (e.g., substance abuse, mental health problems).
Opioid addiction, much like any other form of substance use disorder, is often closely connected to other issues, including anxiety, trauma and mental health disorders. Some individuals living with mental health conditions who abuse opioids may be self-medicating and accidentally overdose. But others may be suffering so severely, with conditions like depressive disorders or bipolar disorder, that they ultimately take their own lives intentionally with the powerful drugs. With opioid abuse being so widespread and devastating, the line between the two has begun to blur.
Both studies mentioned clearly indicate in order to truly comprehend an accurate number of suicides by overdose, more research is needed. Both also admit that the number may never be exact.
Even though we will probably never have a definitive answer, the question is still important to ask. By knowing whether opioid deaths are caused by accidents or intentional we can develop better strategies to provide education and prevention.
This is also why mental health should always be a priority when it comes to addiction treatment.
Substance use disorder and suicide are both connected to mental health and personal wellness. Too often they both lead to avoidable tragedies. Therefore, mental health and wellness should be a priority for addiction treatment. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now.
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When we talk about fighting the addiction problem in America and better understanding substance use disorder, we have to acknowledge those who are at a specific risk for suffering from substance use. Far too many American soldiers come home only to fight another devastating, heartbreaking battle.
With addiction being considered a mental health issue, it should be clear the contribution of overall mental health makes to causing substance use disorder (SUD) in many cases. Depression, bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are all mental health issues that often associated with addiction.
Some of those susceptible to mental health disorders and substance abuse are those who fight for the safety and freedom of our country; our Veterans. So we need to acknowledge the mental health issues that the men and women who sacrifice everything for this nation are suffering through. We need to talk about how to best understand these conditions, and how to best treat those in need.
Veteran Mental Health Disorder Statistics
According to the RAND Center for Military Health Policy Research:
20% of Veterans who served in either Iraq or Afghanistan suffer from either major depression or PTSD
5% of Veterans in these two categories have suffered a traumatic brain injury
According to the U.S. Department of Federal Affairs:
More than 2 out of 10 veterans with PTSD also suffer from SUD
In the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, about 1 in 10 returning soldiers seen in VA have a problem with alcohol or other drugs.
Almost 1 out of every 3 Veterans seeking treatment for SUD also has PTSD.
War Veterans with PTSD and alcohol problems tend to be binge drinkers.
Among all U.S. adult deaths from suicide, 18% (7,403) were identified as Veterans of U.S. military service
Probably one of the most troubling statistics comes from a study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) which tragically revealed:
Only 50% of returning vets who need veteran mental health treatment will receive these services.
That is an extremely troubling number. It says a lot about how Veterans are struggling to get the help they need when you realize that only around half of them ever get it.
Veterans and Substance Abuse
One of the hardest issues to address when examining the veteran mental health issue is substance abuse and SUD. It is also one of the most important aspects of Veteran mental health treatment that need to be acknowledged.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that substance abuse among veterans is strongly connected to their experiences in combat and how they struggle to cope with these traumas. Various NIDA studies indicate that:
25% of Veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan showed signs of SUD
In 2008, active duty and veteran military personnel abused prescription drugs at a rate that was more than twice the rate for the civilian population
In 2009, the VA estimated that around 13,000 vets from Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from alcohol dependence syndrome and require veteran mental health treatment for this problem.
PTSD and SUD
A lot of people, even those who are not Veterans but have experienced great trauma, use substances to self-medicate and deal with PTSD. Even for those who have never had an issue with substances or may never have even used substances, PTSD increases the risk an individual can develop a drinking or drug problem or SUD.
To make matters worse, PTSD and SUD can likely lead to other problems in life, including health. These Veteran mental health issues can often be associated with:
Ultimately, using drugs or alcohol in combination with PTSD might seem to make things easier, but will actually make them a lot worse. It creates a vicious cycle of numbing and re-traumatizing.
Better Treatment for Veteran Mental Health and Addiction
Many advocates for Veteran services, including the National Veterans Foundation (NVF), believe:
- More funding needs to be allocated for Veteran mental health care services so that every veteran has easy access to this type of care.
- Excessive wait times at local VA facilities need to be addressed in order to grant people the access they need to these services.
The NVF website states:
“We can no longer look the other way or continue to underfund the mental health care system that our veterans use.”
This should absolutely be a priority. Strengthening the system that provides mental health care not just to citizens who are suffering, but to our vets who have given so much and desperately need help, is crucial to saving lives from substance use disorder.
Not only does Palm Healthcare Company understand the importance of providing quality addiction recovery treatment, but we also know how important dual diagnosis treatment is for those who suffer from serious mental health conditions like PTSD or major depression along with addiction. Better treatment means addressing both conditions simultaneously, to help the individual heal holistically.
Palm Healthcare Company also knows how important it is to help those first responders and Veterans that put their lives on the line every day. That is why we are a proud sponsor of the Harrigan Foundation’s Annual Run to the Rescue 5K to raise money for the treatment of first responders and veterans.
To find out more about this event, visit the link here:
Harrigan Foundation’s Annual RUN TO THE RESCUE 5K
Mental health care and addiction treatment for vets is an important resource that can save lives and our veterans put their lives back together after experiencing trauma and hardship that causes PTSD and the devastation of substance abuse. If you or a loved one is struggling, you don’t have to fight alone. Please call toll-free now.
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For many who have struggled with substance abuse it comes as no surprise that a link can be drawn between their drug or alcohol use and their mental health. A lot of people who struggle with addiction have experienced some form of emotional distress, trauma or abuse that has made a definite impact on their lives. While this may not be the sole reason behind their use, issues concerning mental health can contribute to drug or alcohol use in a dramatic way. With heroin and depression, the two tend to feed off of one another, creating an intense and deeper connection.
Depression is a very common but also very serious mood disorder, also referred to as:
- Major depressive disorder
- Clinical depression
This mental health condition causes a variety of symptoms that impact how an individual thinks, feels, and handles their day to day lives. A depression diagnosis depends on symptoms being present for at least two weeks, and some forms of depression will differ, or develop under unique circumstances. Some specific forms of depression include:
Persistent Depressive Disorder (Dysthymia)
This is a depressed mood lasting for at least two years. Sometimes the episodes of major depression is experienced in periods of less severe symptoms, but still the symptoms persist for two years or more.
This is pretty straight forward. It happens when someone experiences severe depression along with some form of psychosis, such as:
These psychotic symptoms typically revolve around a particular depressive subject like guilt, poverty or illness.
Seasonal Affective Depression
This is the onset of depressive symptoms during winter months when there is less natural sunlight, which is why some call it ‘winter depression’. It is commonly characterized by:
- Social withdrawal
- Increase in sleep
- Weight gain
This depression typically disappears during spring and summer months as better weather returns, but comes back around every year.
Many women experience relatively mild depressive and anxiety symptoms after delivery, usually only lasting around two weeks. However, perinatal depression is much more serious.
Mothers with perinatal depression experience full-blown major depression during pregnancy or after delivery, commonly known as postpartum depression. Feelings that accompany perinatal depression include:
These can make it difficult for new mothers to complete daily care activities for themselves and/or for their babies.
While bipolar disorder is technically different from depression, individuals with bipolar disorder do experience episodes of intensely low moods that qualify as major depression- referred to as ‘bipolar depression’.
However, someone with bipolar disorder also experiences extreme high moods, either irritable or euphoric in nature. These moods are also called ‘mania’, or the less intense with are called ‘hypomania’. This is why bipolar disorder was once called ‘manic depressive disorder’.
Beyond these five there are other forms of depression, and symptoms of depression may vary from person to person. But for most people with depression the symptoms they do experience are consistent on an almost daily basis.
Psychology of Heroin
For those who don’t know, heroin is a synthetic drug produced from morphine. Morphine is a powerful analgesic derived from the opium poppy plant. The effects of heroin are a result of the substance binding with receptors in the brain that respond to opiates. Once ingested, heroin converts to morphine in the brain, and this potent compound effects the brain in ways that influence psychology.
Morphine slows the neurological activity in the brain, creating sedation. This sedation creates the desired effect of many heroin users, which is the sense of profound relaxation.
Yet, the National Alliance on Mental Illness warns that people with psychiatric disorders (such as depression) are more likely to experience very negative side-effects. So while people with depression may try to use heroin to numb themselves to feelings of sadness, guilt or despair, they actually create a chemical reaction in the brain that exacerbates their depressive symptoms.
Heroin and Depression
Heroin and depression have a symbiotic relationship that creates a viscous cycle. The two fuel each other. An individual may use heroin to try and escape their depressive feelings, but using heroin frequently worsens symptoms such as:
Thus these feelings make the depression worse, the individual will use more heroin to escape, and the cycle continues.
With heroin and depression, the physical consequences of heroin use can also cause severe emotional distress. Physical effects of heroin that can increase feelings of depression include:
- Respiratory illness
- Blood-borne disease
- Muscular weakness
- Vascular damage
And heroin’s impact on an individual’s personal life can make depression even worse, such as:
- Financial problems
- Job loss
- Legal trouble
- Relationship issues
Again, these issues can cause a heroin user to abuse the drug more in order to cope with these difficulties, which continues to feed into their problems and exacerbate the issues even more.
Withdrawal from Heroin and Depression
Withdrawal from heroin is one of the typical reasons that many people trying to quit the drug are unsuccessful. These unpleasant side effects of not having the drug often pushes people trying to give up heroin back to the drug just to feel relief, and for those with depression the withdrawals from heroin can seem even more relentless.
Trying to abruptly discontinue heroin use without the help of medical detox will cause uncomfortable and sometimes extremely painful symptoms such as:
- Intense cravings
- Involuntary leg movement
- Muscle pain
- Sleeping problems
- Runny nose
- Stomach Pain
Heavy use over an extended period can also lead to seizures. But while the physical withdrawal symptoms are already pretty bad, the psychological side effects can seem impossible to overcome, especially for someone with depression or other mental health issues.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment for Heroin and Depression
One of the most critical parts of treatment for heroin users with depression is to find the root cause of the depression, which is also one of the most challenging aspect of recovery for heroin users. Depression is not just a bad mood, and it does not simply stem from one source. Some of the most common sources of depression include:
- Brain chemistry
- Psychological trauma
- Physical disability
- Stressful social environment
- Drug or alcohol abuse
Dual diagnosis treatment is crucial for someone struggling with heroin and depression because the two conditions have such similar symptoms, which make each other worse. In many cases, it is difficult to even discover what came first, depression or heroin addiction. Either way, a huge factor to overcoming heroin and depression is with comprehensive and holistic dual diagnosis treatment.
Simultaneously addressing both issues and giving equal attention to both conditions gives way for more complete recovery. If one of the two is ignored, then it has the potential to eventually cause a relapse into the other. The deeper connection with heroin and depression is that these each of them is commonly inspired by similar circumstances, including genetics and trauma. Both will thrive through the impact of the other. Both are damaging and potentially fatal. But there is also help for each, and when treated in tandem they can each be overcome.
At Palm Healthcare Company, the idea of treating all parts of each individual is the core concept of our holistic approach to substance use disorder treatment. We believe that by providing personalized and effective care for each individual helps create lasting health, freedom and happiness in every aspect of life. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.
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I remember in junior high school when the guys and I pressured my friends mom to drive through a snow storm to the concert. After bugging a couple buddies to pitch in and buy me and my friend Chris tickets to see Linkin Park live in Columbus, Ohio for their 2003 tour with Hoobastank, Story of the Year and POD. While some of my crew preferred these bands I had history with Linkin Park albums:
- Hybrid Theory
I mean come on; Meteora was one of the highest selling alternative music albums of all time! Hybrid Theory went multi-Platinum in several countries! You don’t have to love Linkin Park to acknowledge the impact this band had on music.
We were only 13 or 14 years old, and it was a massive crowd, probably full of lost kids just like us. Linkin Park is that sometimes melodic, sometimes growling scream that spoke to something in so many people. At 11 and 12 years old, when their fame was just beginning, their songs put words to things I didn’t know how to say. It was gloom and rage that inspired millions of people.
Granted in years since, I have grown away from their changes in sound and style. But I remember having the LP patches and stickers all over my stuff, next to my Tupac and Lynyrd Skynyrd.
I remember wanting to dye my hair and spike it out… because punk rock! And to freak out my mom.
And I remember listening to Reanimation on repeat trying to learn all the new words to remixes of my old favorites.
I remember when they did a remix album Collison Course with Jay Z.
And I remember stomping around the street in my small Midwestern neighborhood, late night in the pouring rain, banging my head to “One Step Closer” feeling like the most misunderstood kid ever.
So when the news broke today that the lead singer of Linkin Park, Chester Bennington had died it was so surreal. But when you look back at the artists music and his life, we have always been given a window into his pain, through a fierce puncturing scream and emotional lyrics.
Initial reports from TMZ were later reiterated by various sources of Bennington’s passing. Brian Elias, the chief of operations for the Los Angeles County coroner’s office, confirmed the death reports. At the tragically young age of 41, Chester Bennington leaves behind 6 children from two relationships. Not to mention a loyal family of musicians and millions of fans all over the world.
According to Elias the singer’s death is currently being investigated as a possible suicide. Chester Bennington was close friends with the other legendary rock vocalist Chris Cornell, who recently committed suicide in May. On what would have been Cornell’s 53rd birthday, Bennington appears to have taken his own life.
Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter were lit up in a matter of hours with thousands and thousands of fans sending their love and support to Bennington’s family and the band. Celebrities from Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson to director Joss Whedon, rockers like Corey Taylor of Slipknot and graphic artists like BossLogic, to Chance the Rapper, Killer Mike and Cypress Hill took to the internet to pay homage and talk about how Linkin Park’s music helped them through tough times.
Chester Bennington: Pain and Addiction
With songs that were full of dark and deeply personal themes and words, it is not hard to imagine that Chester Bennington faced his demons. But Bennington himself has been open about his fight with drug and alcohol addiction throughout his life, and his battles with the abuse he faced in his childhood.
Skimming through multiple sites and past interviews, you find that in life Chester Bennington had seen his fair share of darkness. In an interview years back he opened up about being molested and beaten by an older male friend beginning at age seven. At 11 years old, his parents divorced and he was forced to live with his father. After discovering drugs, he used:
At one point saying in an interview in 2016 he was taking 11 hits of acid a day:
“I dropped so much acid I’m surprised I can still speak. I’d smoke a bunch of crack, do a bit of meth and just sit there and freak out. Then I’d smoke opium to come down. I weighed 110 pounds.”
Benning was able to avoid heavy drug use for a while, but after becoming hugely successful, drugs found their way back into his life. For a few years after getting clean in 2006, Bennington went on to openly discussed how his fight with addiction and his recovery fed into the roaring rage and agony in his music. In an interview in 2009 with Noisecreep, Bennington stated:
“I have been able to tap into all the negative things that can happen to me throughout my life by numbing myself to the pain so to speak and kind of being able to vent it through my music,”
“I don’t have a problem with people knowing that I had a drinking problem. That’s who I am and I’m kind of lucky in a lot of ways cause I get to do something about it.”
One of the most well-known songs Linkin Park ever released was the haunting and heartbroken song “Crawling” from their debut album Hybrid Theory. The video was pretty cool visually for its time, and the song itself is pretty much the pinnacle of emotional screaming “nu rock” of the early 2000s. Linkin Park later won the Grammy for best hard rock performance in 2001 for “Crawling”.
You want to see something intense, watch the clips of Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington sing “Crawling” live on stage in 2008.
Later on Bennington was quoted as saying this song particularly was,
“- about feeling like I had no control over myself in terms of drugs and alcohol.”
He went on to explain the feeling of being able to write the words, sing that feeling into his music and win a Grammy after selling millions of records. In another interview, when discussing his back and forth battle with addiction and relapse Chester Bennington talked about the song “Breaking the Habbit” and how upon reading the lyrics, he broke into tears because he felt that at the time his band mate and fellow vocalist Mike Shinoda was writing about his life.
In His Own Words
In an interview that recently became on viral video in light of the tragic death of Chester Bennington, the singer himself made a profound statement about struggling with life on life’s terms, depression and the desire to give up, saying:
“None of us are immune from just shit happening to you, and not to you but just making poor choices or being human. There’s always that element and for me life got really weird and really hard all at one time.
There was a few times over the last couple years where I was just ready to throw in the towel and just give up on everything, but I found that, for me most of my suffering is self-inflicted.”
He later continues stating:
“I’ve always had this depressive side, and I think that’s something some people may not have gone down the road of injecting and living on the streets and that kind of stuff, so they think ‘Oh my story’s not that bad’. Dude, no man, if you’re here, if you’re here, it’s that bad.”
His words have always been good for striking a nerve. Now especially these words are easy to relate to, and easy to see how Bennington was desperate for something… what, we may never really know.
In death, Bennington has shown us that we don’t always know what people are going through. Back in 2016 he had told an interviewer from Metal Hammer,
“The idea that success equals happiness pisses me off. It’s funny to think that just because you’re successful you’re now immune to the full range of the human experience.”
It has become another tragic and heartbreaking example of how success in the professional or monetary sense does not make someone happy. That recovery and sobriety can be a battle, and no amount of money or prestige can make someone content with their own mind.
In life, Chester Bennington used his music to teach us about experiencing our pain as a beautiful thing, and to find ways to express it. His music showed a lot of young people they were not alone, and that being hurt did not mean they had to be afraid. And even if you were afraid, he admitted that fear is how we fall. He spoke openly in interviews countless times over the years about the traumas he personally had to face, and about the devastation he had put himself through in that process. Chester Bennington taught us we didn’t have to be perfect to be transparent, and for some of us gave us a reason to relish in the fury of youth.
Bennington talked about finding something worth fighting for, whether it was freedom and human rights, or identity and creativity. By uniting so many people from all over the globe in common emotional intensity, it is music like that of Linkin Park that also removes some of the stigma surrounding depression, addiction and trauma. And this news has inspired a greater call to action for anyone struggling with substance use disorder, depression or abuse to reach out and find help any way they can.
From one kid who knows depression, anxiety and alcoholism… and who discovered unique forms of self-expression through your music and the various projects you were involved with visually and otherwise, thank you for all you gave us.
“In the memory you’ll find me
Eyes burning up
The darkness holding me tightly
Until the sun rises up”
In memory of
March 20, 1976 – July 20, 2017
If you or someone you love is struggling, please do not wait. Please call toll-free now. We want to help. You are not alone.
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