When grunge rock—a term that those who played “grunge rock” hated—arrived on our radios it the mid-90s, it felt to many fans like music had finally gotten “real” again. The Big Pop of the 80s seemed to repeatedly emphasize style over substance and sales over artistry. So, when songs by Soundgarden—led by singer and songwriter Chris Cornell—Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Alice in Chains starting appearing on our airwaves right alongside songs by Brittany Spears and The Backstreet Boys, their message seemed clear: They came to save us.
September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Alarmingly, the CDC recently reported that the number of suicides in the United States has been on the rise since 1999 among both men and women and in all age groups, and is the 10th leading cause of death. Suicide and suicidal ideation are often misunderstood, especially by those who may have never struggled with mental illness or addiction—although some experts say that most people have at least though about suicide at one point or another. It’s important to understand the risk factors and warning signs of suicide and to intervene if you know someone who needs help.
If you are currently in a crisis and feel that you have no reason to keep living, please call 1-800-273-TALK or go to www.suicideprevention.org to chat with someone online now.
In his book, The Suicidal Mind, Edwin Shneidman describes 10 commonalities among people who attempt or commit suicide.
Although people who have considered or attempted suicide share many of these commonalties, they can also have many differences. People of all gender identities, ages, incomes, and ethnicities can be at risk for suicide.
Sometimes suicide is triggered by long-term factors, like childhood trauma, and sometimes it is triggered by more immediate factors, like recent hardships or stressful life events. Sometimes suicidal tendencies are brought on by mental illness, and sometimes it’s brought on by a complex interplay of several of these factors simultaneously.
However, most people at risk of suicide tend to share some characteristics. Some of the main risk factors for suicide are…
If you know someone who is contemplating suicide, contact a crisis line, get them to the nearest hospital emergency room, or call 911. If you can’t get them to the hospital right away, it’s important not to leave them alone. Stay with them, and if you can, remove any access they may have to firearms, medications, or anything that they could use to end their lives.
If you or someone you love is at higher risk for suicide, the National Alliance on Mental Illness has some excellent tips for developing a Wellness Recovery Action Plan to refer to in case of a suicidal crisis.
For someone who’s thought are consumed with ending his or her life the process of finding treatment can be intimidating and confusing. Some people who fit this description actually might not meet the requirements for entering into an inpatient mental health program like the ones we offer at The Meadows. That’s because there’s a difference between individuals who are actively suicidal and those who are having suicidal thoughts.
Generally speaking, those who are experiencing suicidal ideation have had thoughts about ending their lives but have no real plans to do so. Those who are actively suicidal tend to have plans laid and out and have taken steps toward ending their lives.
Typically, when a person contacts an inpatient hospital or program to discuss their issues the intake specialist will go over your past history and the precipitating events that initiated the call. If the intake specialist finds that the person is actively suicidal and in danger of harming him or herself, they may recommend that they be admitted to an inpatient treatment program that can provide acute care and around-the-clock direct monitoring.
If the intake specialist believes that the person can be safely and effectively treated in a less intensive setting, they may recommend a partial hospitalization (PHP) or residential treatment program. People who have been in an acute, hospital inpatient setting can also enter PHP or residential treatment program once they have stabilized and gotten clearance from their doctor(s).
If you’d like to learn more about treatment options for yourself or for a loved one who is experiencing suicidal thoughts, feel free to give us a call at 866-331-7179. We’d be happy to help in any way we can.
You never hear of any dying from daily pot use. You certainly don’t hear about it in the same way you hear about deaths and other tragedies caused by alcohol and other “harder” drugs. And, there are some serious medical conditions for which marijuana is now believed to be an effective treatment. Additionally, the movement to legalize marijuana seems to be growing—25 states have legalized medical marijuana, while four states plus Washington, D.C. have gone even further and legalized recreational use of pot.
So, what’s the big deal?
Well…The big deal is that like any substance or activity that has the ability to alter your mood or neurological responses, marijuana can be addictive. And, like all other addictions, it can have a devastating impact on your life.
When people do start to feel that their marijuana use is interfering with their lives and relationships in a negative way, they often have trouble asking for and getting the support they need. Molly Hankins, in a personal essay for Nylon magazine, put it like this: “Being a junkie or an alcoholic who turns themselves over to a 12-step program, the sober lifestyle, God, whatever, registers at the David Bowie end of the addiction spectrum. Being addicted to weed barely registers as laughable and there’s no one in my life I feel comfortable talking to about it. As the era of marijuana prohibition in this country seems to finally be coming to an end, what is the popular discussion surrounding appropriate use? How much is too much? How do I stop if I want to but can’t?
Among the many excellent pointsMolly makes in her essay, her point about the need for a discussion around marijuana and addiction really hits home. The low rate of fatalities directly related to marijuana use, as opposed to heroin or alcohol use, for example, may have contributed to a general societal complacency around Marijuana addiction.
It’s important to note that even though weed may not be as fatal, statistically speaking, as heroin or alcohol, depression is often co-occurring condition that goes along with marijuana addiction. And, withdrawal from marijuana can exacerbate symptoms of depression and anxiety. Many people—like “Jake” who wrote a letter to Scientific American in 2012 describing his marijuana addiction—often end up having suicidal thoughts.
This means that the drug can, in a way, be indirectly tied to some fatalities. The drug may not be directly responsible for deaths related to suicide, but it certainly doesn’t help to prevent them. Here’s how Jake describes his experience:
“Over time, the proportion of high time to clean time became steadily more heavy on the high side. I went through several periods of suicidally. During my last six months of use the possible necessity to kill myself always seemed just a week or two away. My plan while I was at school was to jump off of a nearby parking garage. At home, I would use my dad's shotgun to shoot myself in the head. I didn't want to feel what I felt when I wasn't high. Luckily, I always got high before I was ready to actually kill myself.”
For those who become addicted to marijuana, "recreational use" of the drug slowly stops being fun or relaxing. The need to smoke in order to cope with life’s ups and downs and the need to hide how much you’re smoking (or ingesting) from others can have the same isolating and disruptive effects on a person’s life as any other addiction. Here are a few of the signs that someone may be dependent on the drug:
People who are addicted to pot often think that they aren’t "really addicted" if they don't smoke it every day. While it’s true that marijuana addicts can go a few days between smoking again before they suffer any symptoms, it’s important to note that that’s because the chemicals in marijuana can stay in a person’s system for days. Once all of those chemicals are out of their system, subtle but serious withdrawal symptoms can start to set in. The first sign is a craving powerful enough to drive the addict to use the drug again.
2. Irritability and Depression
People who are addicted to marijuana find themselves becoming increasingly irritable and depressed if they go many hours without another hit. Often they don’t recognize the connection between their mood changes and the drug. After several days without the drug addicts can begin to develop severe depression accompanied by frequent crying spells. Many in recovery from marijuana addiction say the experienced a rapid and immense drop in self-confidence and self-esteem along with intense feelings of worthless and anxiety. Some even developed suicidal thoughts.
3. Loss of Ambition
While some pot users may continue to function at their jobs and their personal lives, addicts may end up accomplishing a lot less than would if they were not addicted to the drug. People who were once active and ambitious may stop participating in work, school or social functions, and lower their ambitions or drop them altogether.
4. Physical Changes
Withdrawal from marijuana can also include physical symptoms like nausea and loss of appetite. People in withdrawal often also report having sleep disturbances and nightmares that can continue over a period of months.
Many people with addiction and substance use problems are afraid to ask for help because of the stigma associated with the disorder. This can especially be true for those struggling with marijuana addiction. Since many harbor the belief that marijuana is a completely harmless drug, many addicts might assume that their friends and or family members will dismiss their concerns, especially if they are marijuana users too who don’t feel that they have experienced any ill effects from the drug.
So, it’s especially important for those who fear that they may be dependent on pot to know that they are not alone - many people struggle with this particular drug in the same ways that they do. They are not imagining things—marijuana addiction is real and it can be treated. And, They are not weak - anyone can become addicted to marijuana.
If you think that you or a loved might have a problem with marijuana, reach out for help from a therapist and a local Marijuana Anonymous (MA) group.
If the addiction is severe and is accompanied by other disorders such as depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder—and it often is— inpatient or intensive outpatient treatment may be needed. If so, look for a program that provides treatments that can begin to heal both the emotional and neurological aspects of addiction through trauma work, experiential therapies like equine therapy and art therapy, and brain-based therapies like biofeedback and neurofeedback.
Our specialists at The Meadows would be happy to answer any questions you might have about addiction treatment. Please call us anytime at 800-244-4949 or chat with us through our website.
You often hear people say that Americans live in a celebrity-obsessed culture. We tend to view being famous— or even just generally well-known— as the height of achievement. We sometimes also assume that once you’ve reached the height of fame you leave all “regular people” problems behind. “If you’re a celebrity, you have a lot of money, and if you have a lot of money, you can make any problem go away,” is often the belief.
Then, when celebrities hit a rough patch in life and fall, proving themselves to be all too human, we can be less than empathetic: “They have everything! Why would they risk throwing it all away like this? What do they have to be depressed about?” the water cooler chatter often goes.
Michael Phelps’ recent feature story on ESPN’s SportsCenter, is a touching and important reminder that no one is completely immune from the effects of childhood trauma. No amount of talent, money, or recognition can take away the pain that’s rooted in your past. As a matter of fact, oftentimes the spoils of success can further complicate those issues. “I have all of this, so why am I so deeply unhappy? Why do I still feel worthless? Why do I only want to drink more (or party more, hide away more, or work more) even though I know it isn’t healthy?”
The bad news is that no matter who you are, you can get caught up in the downward spiral of depression and addiction. But, the good news is that no matter who you are, you have the power to overcome your depression and/or addiction. Sometimes, all it takes is the courage to stand up, like Michael Phelps did, and admit that you are struggling and that you are scared. There’s nothing shameful about asking for help.
If you think that you or someone you love needs help right now, give us a call at 800-244-4949.