Substance Misuse

Substance Use & Suicidality

Individuals who struggle with substance use disorders face an exceptionally high risk for not only unintentional overdose, but suicide. At OSPF, we aim to understand the overlap between substance use and suicidality and provide resources for each so that everyone knows how and where to find help.

Patients who visited the emergency department for an opioid overdose are…

times more likely to die by drug overdose in the year

times more likely to die by suicide relative to the general population


of those whose worst overdose had involved an opioid or sedative reported wanting to die or not caring about the risks


reported they were unsure of their intentions

*Information from National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institute of Health

General Information

What does it mean to have opioid use disorder?


Opioids produce high levels of positive reinforcement, increasing the odds that people will continue using them despite negative resulting consequences. Opioid use disorder as a problematic pattern of opioid use leading to problems or distress, with at least two of the following occurring within a 12-month period:

  1. Taking larger amounts or taking drugs over a longer period than intended.
  2. Persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control opioid use.
  3. Spending a great deal of time obtaining or using the opioid or recovering from its effects.
  4. Craving, or a strong desire or urge to use opioids
  5. Problems fulfilling obligations at work, school or home.
  6. Continued opioid use despite having recurring social or interpersonal problems.
  7. Giving up or reducing activities because of opioid use.
  8. Using opioids in physically hazardous situations.
  9. Continued opioid use despite ongoing physical or psychological problem likely to have been caused or worsened by opioids.
  10. Tolerance (i.e., need for increased amounts or diminished effect with continued use of the same amount)
  11. Experiencing withdrawal (opioid withdrawal syndrome) or taking opioids (or a closely related substance) to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms.
What drugs are considered opioids and can cause opioid related fatalities?


The most common opioids include Codeine, Hydrocodone, Oxycodone, Hydromorphone, Morphine, and Heroin, amongst others. Misuse of any of these drugs could lead to several negative health complications. However, recently in Ohio the drug fentanyl has been responsible for a significant portion of opioid related deaths. For more comprehensive information on fentanyl please visit Background Information on Fentanyl.

What treatments are available for opioid use disorder?

Medication-assisted treatment is one way to help those with opioid addiction recover their lives. There are three, equally important parts to this form of treatment: medication, counseling, and support from family/friends. The three main medications for this type of treatment are methadone, buprenorphine, and sometimes naltrexone. Methadone and buprenorphine trick the brain into thinking it is still getting the problem opioid, without the individual feeling high or going through withdrawal. Naltrexone takes away the feeling of getting high if the problem drug is used again. For more in depth information regarding medication assisted treatment please see Comprehensive overview of Medication Assisted Treatment.

How are opioid use disorder and mental health related?


Life experiences, particularly in childhood along with additional individual experiences, community contexts, structural factors, and historical experiences, have a substantial impact on future physical and mental health behaviors and outcomes, including opioid use. A landmark study by the CDC found that childhood adversity was associated with an increased risk of substance misuse later in life with more than 80% of patients seeking treatment for addiction having at least one adverse childhood experience, establishing a clear connection between substance use and mental health. This is why trauma-informed care is vital for families impacted by opioid use. Trauma-informed care is a system of organizations, programs, and services that are based on an understanding of the vulnerabilities or triggers of trauma survivors that traditional service delivery approaches may exacerbate, so that these services and programs can be more supportive and avoid re-traumatization.
For a more wholistic understanding of how trauma-informed care works and how it can benefit you or a loved one please see.


Resources for Patients

Resources available to patients struggling with opioid use are plentiful.  Whether it is through medication assisted treatment, mental health care, or peer support services, here are tools to help identify what kind of treatment is best for you and where your closest treatment center is.

Opioid Program Directory By State

Addiction Support Services by County

Insurance coverage and opioid use disorder treatment

Resources for Families and Communities

It can be difficult watching a loved one struggle with substance misuse. However, there are various resources to help cope and understand how you can best care for your loved one. From help lines and support groups to Narcan training and safe disposal find out more about how you can play an active role in someone’s recovery. Project DAWN- Ohio Department of Health – Ohio’s network of opioid education and naloxone distribution programs is called Project DAWN (Deaths Avoided With Naloxone)

  1. Recognizing the signs and symptoms of overdose
  2. Distinguishing between different types of overdose
  3. Performing rescue breathing
  4. Calling emergency medical services
  5. Administering intranasal naloxone

For Parents Specifically 

The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids – This website highlights how to get help for your child struggling with substance use from what to say, how to seek treatment, and more personalized support.

Parents Helpline: 855-378-4373 – The Helpline is a toll-free service for parents and caregivers of children (of any age) who want to talk to someone about their child’s drug use and drinking. The Helpline is not a crisis line.

Start Talking Ohio – A majority of substance free adolescents credit their parents for the decision not to use illegal substances. Learn how to start critical conversations with your children, properly store medications to prevent abuse and accidents, and recognize the signs and symptoms of drug abuse here.