National Recovery Month & Suicide Prevention Awareness Month: Break the Myth, Break the Stigma

National Recovery Month & Suicide Prevention Awareness Month: Break the Myth, Break the Stigma

By DLC Community Outreach Specialist Jessica Liria, M.S.

Myths and Facts about Suicide

Myth: People who threaten suicide just want attention.

Fact: The attention a person receives from expressing thoughts of suicide may save their life. When a person hasn’t felt heard, understood, or acknowledged, providing them with comfort and connection allows them to feel noticed and important.

Myth: Asking someone if they have thoughts of suicide will put that idea in their mind and encourage them to make a suicide attempt.

Fact: The opposite is true. Asking a person directly about their thoughts and feelings provides an opportunity for communication and can be a big relief to finally express their challenges and find support.

Myth: Suicide happens without warning.

Fact: There are generally many clues and warning signs provided in the weeks and days leading up to a person’s suicide attempt. Unfortunately, they may go undetected without the knowledge and awareness of what to look for. Educating ourselves on the warning signs may help save lives. It is important to note, that we can only be responsible for what we knew at the time it needed to be done.

Warning Signs of Suicide:

· Talking or writing about suicide, death and/or dying.

· Perception that they are a burden to others, or things would be better off if they were gone.

· Feeling helpless and hopeless, or that they are stuck or trapped in their situation.

· Giving away prized possessions.

· Extreme changes in mood, often a noticeable increase in feelings of anxiety, sadness, or anger.

· Withdrawing from loved ones and friends; saying goodbye as if it is the final time.

· Increased use of drugs and/or alcohol.

· Engaging in high-risk choices that put life at risk (such as driving recklessly).

· Overwhelming emotional and/or physical pain.

· Stopping psychiatric treatment; medications and/or therapy.

· Upcoming anniversary of a major loss or traumatic event.

· Experiencing a situation that they feel there is no way out of—legal problems, an abusive relationship, financial pressure, severe impact to reputation.

· Changes in sleeping and eating habits.

· Previous suicide attempts.

· Knowing, or looking up to, someone that has died by suicide.

Myths and Facts about Addiction

Myth: People with substance use challenges have an “addictive personality.”

Fact: Everyone has the potential for habit-forming behaviors that can lead to an addiction. Some have a higher level of risk for alcohol or drug addiction based on biological and environmental factors. Risk factors include family history of addiction, biological response to a substance, long periods of high stress, sadness, or worry, and influence from society, peers and self.

Myth: Individuals with an addiction are making the choice to continue to use and they should be able to stop on their own.

Fact: The continued use of alcohol and/or drugs over time leads to physical changes in the brain and body. Addiction is a complex disease that is difficult to treat without professional interventions.

Myth: Only certain types of people have addictions, like those that are homeless or have a mental illness.

Fact: Individuals with addiction challenges come from all types of backgrounds and upbringings. The societal stigma and the stereotypical image of someone with addiction contributes to this misconception. No matter our socioeconomic status, our education level, our race, religion, gender, etc. we are vulnerable to addiction if we make high-risk choices related to drugs and/or alcohol.

Warning Signs of Addiction:

· Increased frequency and duration of use of alcohol and/or drugs

· Increased tolerance to the substance that leads to increase in the amount of the substance to get the same effect as before

· Use of substances at inappropriate times, or inappropriate places (at work, while driving, immediately after waking up in the morning)

· Loss of control with use of the substance

· Continued use regardless of consequences (legal challenges, physical and mental health concerns, relationship difficulties)

· Preoccupied with the thought and need to use

· Seeking means to get the substance regardless of how high-risk, or dangerous it would be

· Periods of blackout (not remember events that happened while awake)

· Sudden mood swings and increased irritability, paranoia, and anger

· Changes in eating habits; weight loss, weigh gain, appetite changes

· Changes in sleeping habits; sleeping too much, sleeping too little

· Withdrawal signs and symptoms and not using: nausea/vomiting, tremors/shaking, headaches, blood pressure changes, flu-like symptoms

Sep 02, 2022 | Blog

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