When Substance Abuse Involves Alcohol And Cocaine the Risk of Future Suicide Attempt Greatly Increases

alcohol, cocaine and suicide riskThe fact that there is a link between substance abuse and suicide attempts is not disputed, but the mechanics are more complicated than this and the link may change depending on age, race, gender, and other factors. The latest study in this area involves examining the suicidal emergency department records for hundreds of patients, and it shows that when cocaine and alcohol are used together this includes a very strong link to a higher risk of suicide attempts in the future. According to the study authors “One unexpected finding was that, when examined independently, alcohol use had no significant association and cocaine use had a borderline significant association. However, reporting both alcohol misuse and cocaine use was significantly associated with a future suicide attempt.”

alcohol, cocaine and suicide riskBrown University Alpert Medical School researcher Sarah Arias discussed the study on substance abuse and suicide attempts in view of the study findings, writing “These disparate findings emphasize the complex interaction of sex, substance use, and suicide attempts. They also suggest women may be differentially at risk depending on whether they report substance use or past suicide attempts. It’s not a clear-cut, straightforward association. Even though substance use is often touted as a very strong predictor of suicidal intentions and behaviors, when we look at individual substances we’re seeing that there’s not that consistency in the future association with behavior.” Arias also explained that “We’re on our way to trying to identify factors that can be used to better assess and identify people who are at risk for suicide, and ultimately I think this is a step in the right direction to get a better picture. Patients who have potentially comorbid alcohol and cocaine use may be at a higher risk. Findings like these can be useful for informing suicide risk assessment.”

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