If you abuse drugs or alcohol you should know that there’s a strong correlation between substance abuse and suicidality. Important findings were recently released from SAMHSA’s 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

10.8 percent (2.2 million adults age 18 or older) of those who abuse or are addicted to alcohol or drugs had serious thoughts of suicide compared to 3 percent of the population at large. 3.6 percent actually made suicide plans compared to 0.7 percent. And 1.8 percent had attempted suicide compared to 0.3 percent.

Suicide is linked with major depressive disorder, drug and alcohol abuse is linked with major depressive disorder, too as we discussed here. Youth, ages 12-17, are particularly at risk.

Of those youths who had a major depressive episode in the past year (2009), 24.2 percent used marijuana in the past year; of youths who did not have a major depressive episode, about half that number (12.6 percent).

Of those youths who had an MDE, 8.0 percent used inhalants, of youths who did not have an MDE, 3.4 percent.

For other drugs, the findings were similar – inhalants, hallucinogens, cocaine, heroin, and (abused) pscyhotheraputic drugs, about twice as many of those with an MDE used them as those without an mde.

These statistics don’t prove that substance abuse causes all or even most MDEs (though they may very well have caused some). They also don’t prove that kids with MDEs are taking drugs to medicate their MDEs. What it is showing is that there is a strong correlation – a relationship.

I’m a big believer in evaluating mental health and addiction patients for both disorders because if both are present both must be addressed for any treatment or therapy to be effective.

Thank you to SAMHSA for answering our questions about these findings.