Alcohol & Drugs

The Importance of Alcohol Awareness Month - April
Talk with your kids about alcohol & drugs
Talk with your kids about drugs
Most Teens Don't Drink or Use Drugs. How to Help Your Kids Avoid it Too
Today’s Substances Are More Harmful than Those You May Have Been Exposed to as a Teen.
The Ultimate Do’s and Don’ts Guide for Talking to Your Kids about Drug and Alcohol Abuse
Subjective Responses to Alcohol in the Development and Maintenance of Alcohol Use Disorder
Substance Overdose

Drug Issues
Drug Overdose
Drug Overdose & Suicide

Suicide & Alcohol Facts

Are Alcohol and Suicide Linked?
Alcoholism and Suicide Risk
Alcohol Addiction Impacts Teen Suicide:The Relationship Between Alcohol & Suicide
Does alcohol and other drug abuse increase the risk for suicide?
Alcohol Abuse And Suicide – Risk Factors, Dangers, And Prevention
Suicides due to alcohol and/or drug overdose; a data brief from the National Violent Death Reporting System - CDC
Suicidal Behavior and Alcohol Abuse
Alcohol Dependence and Suicide
Alcoholics' Suicide Risk Increases With Age
Early provisional estimates of drug overdose, suicide, and transportation-related deaths: nowcasting methods to account for reporting lags - CDC, (21 page PDF) 2/26/2021
Drug-Related suicide attempts by middle aged adults likely to involve alcohol combined with drugs
Alcohol And Suicide
Almost One-Fourth of Suicide Victims Are Legally Intoxicated When They Die
How Alcohol and Suicide are connected – A Fact Sheet (Canada) - 3/31/22
What Is the Connection Between Alcohol and Suicide? - 6/3/22
Alcohol and Suicide - Samaritans - 2023 - England
Multiple Risk Factors Predict Suicide in Alcoholism

Before You Risk It: Know the law
7 ways to have fun at parties as the only sober person
Fun Without Drinking
The Truth about Alcohol
One-Sided Facts about Alcohol
Alcohol Abuse and Addiction
Underage Drinking

Underage Drinking in Oregon
Is it wrong to buy my child alcohol for their holiday?
Factsheets for under 18s
Research on alcohol and young people

Binge Drinking

Drunk Driving
Study claims binge-drinking on your birthday can lead to dangerous habits
Drunkorexia' prevalent among college students, study finds

Do I have a Drug or Alcohol Problem?
Are You an Alcoholic?
What Is Wet Brain?
Abuse and Pregnancy
Alcohol in America
Alcoholism Nature vs. Nurture
Are Heavy Drinkers Alcoholics?
Binge Drinking and Depression
Dilated Cardiomyopathy
Disease Theory of Alcoholism
Guide to Living With an Alcoholic
Is There a Cure for It?
Liver Damage Caused by Drinking
Long-Term Health Risks Associated
Risks of Alcohol Poisoning
The Science of a Hangover
Using a Breathalyzer at Home
What Is a Functional Alcoholic?
Women and Alcoholism
Prevent Impaired Driving Toolkit

Addiction; Parent Toll-Free Helpline: 1-855-DRUGFREE or
Drug & Alcohol Rehab Centers - Oregon
8 Free Or Low-Cost Oregon Rehab Centers
7 Oregon Women’s Rehab Centers

Merchandise - Single card - $1.00 includes shipping, Positive Parenting Pack (all 34 cards) - $13.00 plus shipping

Talk with your kids about alcohol & drugsl

The issue of drugs can be very confusing to young children. If drugs are so dangerous, then why is the family medicine cabinet full of them? And why do TV, movies, music and advertising often make alcohol and drug use look so cool?

We need to help our kids to distinguish fact from fiction. And it's not too soon to begin. National studies show that the average age when a child first tries alcohol is 11; for marijuana, it's 12. And many kids start becoming curious about these substances even sooner. So let's get started!

Listen carefully

Student surveys reveal that when parents listen to their children's feelings and concerns, their kids feel comfortable talking with them and are more likely to stay drug-free.

Role play how to say "no"

Role play ways in which your child can refuse to go along with his friends without becoming a social outcast. Try something like this, "Let's play a game. Suppose you and your friends are at Andy's house after school and they find some beer in the refrigerator and ask you to join them in drinking it. The rule in our family is that children are not allowed to drink alcohol. So what could you say?"

If your child comes up with a good response, praise him. If he doesn't, offer a few suggestions like, "No, thanks. Let's play with Sony PlayStation instead," or "No thanks. I don't drink beer. I need to keep in shape for basketball."

Encourage choice

Allow your child plenty of opportunity to become a confident decision-maker. An 8-year-old is capable of deciding if she wants to invite lots of friends to her birthday party or just a close pal or two. A 12-year-old can choose whether she wants to go out for chorus or join the school band. As your child becomes more skilled at making all kinds of good choices, both you and she will feel more secure in her ability to make the right decision concerning alcohol and drugs if and when the time arrives.

Provide age-appropriate information

Make sure the information that you offer fits the child's age and stage. When your 6 or 7-year-old is brushing his teeth, you can say, "There are lots of things we do to keep our bodies healthy, like brushing our teeth. But there are also things we shouldn't do because they hurt our bodies, like smoking or taking medicines when we are not sick."

If you are watching TV with your 8 year-old and marijuana is mentioned on a program, you can say, "Do you know what marijuana is? It's a bad drug that can hurt your body." If your child has more questions, answer them. If not, let it go. Short, simple comments said and repeated often enough will get the message across.

You can offer your older child the same message, but add more drug-specific information. For example, you might explain to your 12-year-old what marijuana and crack look like, their street names and how they can affect his body.

Establish a clear family position on drugs

It's okay to say, "We don't allow any drug use and children in this family are not allowed to drink alcohol. The only time that you can take any drugs is when the doctor or Mom or Dad gives you medicine when you're sick. We made this rule because we love you very much and we know that drugs can hurt your body and make you very sick; some may even kill you. Do you have any questions?"

Be a good example

Children will do what you do much more readily than what you say. So try not to reach for a beer the minute you come home after a tough day; it sends the message that drinking is the best way to unwind. Offer dinner guests nonalcoholic drinks in addition to wine and spirits. And take care not to pop pills, even over-the-counter remedies, indiscriminately. Your behavior needs to reflect your beliefs.

Discuss what makes a good friend

Since peer pressure is so important when it comes to kids' involvement with drugs and alcohol, it makes good sense to talk with your children about what makes a good friend. To an 8-year-old you might say, "A good friend is someone who enjoys the same games and activities that you do and who is fun to be around." 11 to 12-year-olds can understand that a friend is someone who shares their values and experiences, respects their decisions and listens to their feelings. Once you've gotten these concepts across, your children will understand that "friends" who pressure them to drink or smoke pot aren't friends at all. Additionally, encouraging skills like sharing and cooperation -- and strong involvement in fun, healthful activities (such as team sports or scouting) -- will help your children make and maintain good friendships as they mature and increase the chance that they'll remain drug-free.

Build self-esteem

Kids who feel good about themselves are much less likely than other kids to turn to illegal substances to get high. As parents, we can do many things to enhance our children's self-image. Here are some pointers:

  • Offer lots of praise for any job well done.
  • If you need to criticize your child, talk about the action, not the person.
  • Assign do-able chores. Performing such duties and being praised for them helps your child feel good about himself.
  • Setting aside at least 15 uninterrupted minutes per child per day to talk, play a game, or take a walk together, lets them know you care.
  • Say, "I love you." a lot. Nothing will make your child feel better.
  • Information and lessons about drugs are important enough to repeat frequently.
  • If you suspect a problem, seek help.

If your child becomes withdrawn, loses weight, starts doing poorly in school, turns extremely moody, has glassy eyes -- or if the drugs in your medicine cabinet seem to be disappearing too quickly -- talk with your child and reach out to any one of the organizations listed here. You'll be helping your youngster to a healthier, happier future.

Offer lots of praise for any job well done.

If you need to criticize your child, talk about the action, not the person. If your son gets a math problem wrong, it's better to say, "I think you added wrong. Let's try again."

Assign do-able chores. A 6-year-old can bring her plate over to the sink after dinner; a 12-year-old can feed and walk the dog after school. Performing such duties and being praised for them helps your child feel good about himself.

Spend one-on-one time with your youngster. Setting aside at least 15 uninterrupted minutes per child per day to talk, play a game, or take a walk together, lets her know you care.

Say, "I love you." Nothing will make your child feel better.

Repeat the message

Information and lessons about drugs are important enough to repeat frequently. So be sure to answer your children's questions as often as they ask them to initiate conversation whenever the opportunity arises.

If you suspect a problem, seek help

While kids under age 12 rarely develop a substance problem, it can -- and does -- happen. If your child becomes withdrawn, loses weight, starts doing poorly in school, turns extremely moody, has glassy eyes -- or if the drugs in your medicine cabinet seem to be disappearing too quickly -- talk with your child and reach out to any one of the organizations listed here. You'll be helping your youngster to a healthier, happier future.

Talk with your kids about drugs

Over the past few years, surveys have told us that parents have a significant opportunity to influence their children. When kids lean about drugs from their parents, they are 36% less likely to smoke marijuana. 50% less likely to use inhalants, 56% less likely to use cocaine and 65% less likely to use LSD.

Talking about issues such as drugs may be difficult. This card is designed to help you discuss drugs more easily. By maintaining open communication and giving them the truth, you can help your child live a drug-free life.

What do you say?

Tell them that you love them and you want them to live a healthy and happy life.

Say you do not find alcohol and other illegal drug use acceptable. Many parents never state this simple principle.

Explain how this use hurts people.

  • Physical harm, for example, AIDS, slowed growth, impaired coordination, accidents.
  • Emotional harm - sense of not belonging, isolation, paranoia. 
  • Educational harm - difficulties remembering and paying attention.

Discuss the legal issues. A conviction for a drug offense can lead to time in prison or cost someone a job, driver's license, or college loan.

Talk about positive, drug-free alternatives and how you can explore them together. Some ideas include sports, reading, movies, bike rides, hikes, camping, cooking, games and concerts. Involve your kids' friends.

How do you say it?

Calmly and openly - don't exaggerate. The facts speak for themselves.

Face to face - exchange information and try to understand each other's point of view. Be an active listener and let your child talk about fears and concerns. Don't interrupt and don't preach.

Through "teachable moments", in contrast to a formal lecture, use a variety of situations: television news, TV drama, books, newspapers.

Establish an ongoing conversation rather than giving a one-time speech.

Remember that you set the example. Avoid contradictions between your words and your actions. And don't use illegal drugs, period! Even if marijuana is legal.

Learn to read between the lines.

Be creative! You and your child might act out various situations in which one person tries to pressure the other to take a drug. Figure out two or three ways to handle each situation and talk about which works best.

Exchange ideas with other parents.

Convey warmth, respect, and genuine curiosity, and the dividends will pour in when it’s time to talk about other serious issues. And guess what, they’ll probably listen to you more often and even come to you for advice when the going gets tough. How can you go wrong?

The Truth about Alcohol

Slang terms: Booze, Sauce, Brews, Brewskis, Hooch, Hard Stuff, Juice

Get the Facts:

Alcohol affects your brain. Drinking excess alcohol leads to a loss of coordination, poor judgment, slowed reflexes, distorted vision, memory lapses, and even blackouts.

Alcohol affects your body. Alcohol can damage every organ in your body. It is absorbed directly into your bloodstream and can increase your risk for a variety of life-threatening diseases, including cancer.

Alcohol affects your self-control. Alcohol depresses your central nervous system, lowers your inhibitions, and impairs your judgment. Drinking can lead to risky behaviors, including having unprotected sex. This may expose you to HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases or cause unwanted pregnancy.

Alcohol can kill you. Drinking large amounts of alcohol can lead to coma or even death. Also, in 1998, 35.8 percent of traffic deaths of 15- to 20-year-olds were alcohol-related.

Alcohol can hurt you -- even if you're not the one drinking. If you're around people who are drinking, you have an increased risk of being seriously injured, involved in car crashes, or affected by violence. At the very least, you may have to deal with people who are sick, out of control, or unable to take care of themselves.

Before You Risk It: Know the law. It is illegal to buy or possess alcohol if you are under 21.

More facts. One drink can make you fail a breath test. In some states, people under the age of 21 who are found to have any amount of alcohol in their systems can lose their driver's license, be subject to a heavy fine, or have their car permanently taken away.

Stay informed. "Binge" drinking means having five or more drinks on one occasion. About 15 percent of teens are binge drinkers in any given month.

Know the risks. Mixing alcohol with medications or illicit drugs is extremely dangerous and can lead to accidental death. For example, alcohol-medication interactions may be a factor in at least 25 percent of emergency room admissions.

Keep your edge. Alcohol can make you gain weight and give you bad breath.

Look around you. Most teens aren't drinking alcohol. Research shows that 70 percent of people 12-20 haven't had a drink in the past month.

Know the Signs: How can you tell if a friend has a drinking problem? Sometimes it's tough to tell. But there are signs you can look for. If your friend has one or more of the following warning signs, he or she may have a problem with alcohol:

  • Getting drunk on a regular basis
  • Lying about how much alcohol he or she is using
  • Believing that alcohol is necessary to have fun
  • Having frequent hangovers
  • Feeling run-down, depressed, or even suicidal
  • Having "blackouts" -- forgetting what he or she did while drinking
  • Having problems at school or getting in trouble with the law

What can you do to help someone who has a drinking problem? Be a real friend. You might even save a life. Encourage your friend to stop or seek professional help. For information and referrals, call the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information at 800-729-6686.

Questions & Answers:

Aren't beer and wine "safer" than liquor? No. One 12-ounce beer has about as much alcohol as a 1.5-ounce shot of liquor, a 5-ounce glass of wine, or a wine cooler.

Why can't teens drink if their parents can? Teens' bodies are still developing and alcohol has a greater impact on their physical and mental well-being. For example, people who begin drinking before age 15 are four times more likely to develop alcoholism than those who begin at age 21.

How can I say no to alcohol? I'm afraid I won't fit in. Remember, you're in good company. The majority of teens don't drink alcohol. Also, it's not as hard to refuse as you might think. Try: "No thanks," "I don't drink," or "I'm not interested."

Published By: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administrations, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Study claims binge-drinking on your birthday can lead to dangerous habits

Most people enjoy a couple of cocktails on their birthday. However, if you're more inclined to go all out and get wasted, a new study from Washington University in Seattle shows that binging to celebrate the milestone can set habits that last for months afterwards.

The study followed 600 soon-to-be 21-year-olds who intended on celebrating their newfound legality by drinking. The researchers followed the subjects for a year and found that those who drank a lot on their birthday drank more heavily afterwards as well.

During the study's follow-up period, people who went all out on their birthdays drank 10 percent more than the typical participant on a night out. When compared to those who never drank before their birthday, the number rose to 17 percent.

In the U.S., if you have one glass of wine a night, you are in the top 30 percent of drinkers. Having two glasses every night puts you in the top 20 percent and 10 drinks per day, according to Stephen Cook's book "Paying The Tab," puts you in the top 10 percent.

So enjoy your birthday, but try not to go overboard. It could have more consequences than that dreaded hangover the next morning.

7 ways to have fun at parties as the only sober person

I'm allergic to alcohol—yes, that's a thing. And I inevitably end up at booze-centric functions explaining my glass of seltzer. Fielding the questions helps fill the time, but there are still plenty of moments where I'm standing around not getting sloshed. As a result, I've had years of research to find ways to entertain myself when I'm the only sober person in the room. Here are some of the best ways I've found to enjoy a party when you're the only one not drinking.

1. Be the bartender. When you start making drinks for the party, you get to talk to everyone. And everyone is impressed that the sober person makes a damn fine cosmo!

2. Learn some secrets. I always use get-togethers as an opportunity to practice my social skills. I read somewhere that conversations are made up of two or more people vying for attention. Intentionally or not, people often try steering the conversation back to themselves. When I'm at a party, I make a conscious effort to keep the other person talking. People will tell you all sorts of things!

3. Pretend. Just go ahead and sip that straight tonic like it's a gin and tonic. It's like you're under cover. And the weird thing is, people treat you differently when you act like one of them, which leads me to believe that acting drunk is, in large part, psychological. One time, without realizing it, I started slurring my speech after too much time around too many drunks. Lean in to that slur.

4. Order fancy mocktails. Just because you don't drink alcohol doesn't mean you can't have fancy drinks. There are a number of soft beverage recipes out there that are delicious and look classy AF. One of my favorites is a drink from Hong Kong called the gunner. One part ginger beer, one part lemonade, a lime, and several dashes of bitters, the gunner looks like a cocktail and tastes amazing. (Yes, the bitters has alcohol, but the drink calls for so few shakes that it is diluted beyond any sort of perception.)

5. Eat. You have more room for food. Take advantage of that.

6. Practice your stand-up. I think everyone at one time or another has wanted to be a stand-up comic—making someone laugh is a rush. What better place to work on your routine than a party. Not only drinkers easier to make laugh, they won't remember if you bomb.

7. Just watch. When I am at any sort of function with drinking, I channel my inner Jane Goodall. One of my favorite things to do is pick a spot in the middle of the action, preferably by the food, and stay there the whole night and just watch. A party is the perfect place to study all kinds of drunk, human behavior. Witness complex mating rituals, overt displays of dick measuring, bizarre eating habits, and other wildly interesting behavioral patterns. Who am I kidding? Sit back and enjoy the drama!

Prevent Impaired Driving Toolkit

Alcohol-impaired driving crashes still account for one-third of all traffic-related deaths in the United States. The annual cost of alcohol-related crashes totals more than $51 billion. Facts such as these continue to drive efforts in communities around the country to reduce driving under the influence. CADCA, through the support of NHTSA, has developed an Impaired Driving Prevention Toolkit to aid community efforts with the latest research and evidence-based strategies.

CADCA’s Impaired Driving Prevention Toolkit is designed to provide coalitions, law enforcement partners and drug prevention practitioners with strategies to prevent and reduce impaired driving in their communities. Equipped with the findings from key research in the field, the toolkit’s Impaired Driving Prevention Strategies highlight CADCA’s 7 Strategies for Effective Community Change, with an emphasis on an environmental approach. Grounded in the field of public health, environmental strategies offer well-accepted prevention approaches that coalitions can use to change the context (or environment) in which impaired driving occurs.

The Toolkit offers a variety of strategies aimed at changing or influencing community conditions, standards, institutions, systems and policies. To assist Coalitions with assessing and planning their impaired driving prevention efforts, the Toolkit provides links to significant research and top experts in the field, fact sheets, guidelines for data collection, sample logic models, sample intervention maps and success stories to inform decision making and communication.

Click here to access CADCA’s Impaired Driving Prevention Toolkit!

Questions & Answers

Why do people take bad or illegal drugs?

There are lots of reasons. Maybe they don't know how dangerous they are. Or maybe they feel bad about themselves or don't know how to handle their problems. Or maybe they don't have parents they can talk to. Why do you think they do it?

Why are some drugs good and some drugs bad for you?

When you get sick, the drugs the doctor gives you will help you get better. But if you take these drugs when you're healthy, they can make you sick. Also, there are some drugs, like marijuana or crack, that are never good for you. To be safe, never ever take any drugs unless Mom, Dad or the doctor says it's okay.

What are some of the warning signs of teen drug abuse? Click here.

Most Teens Don't Drink or Use Drugs. How to Help Your Kids Avoid it Too.

It may surprise you that most teens actually do not use nicotine, alcohol, marijuana or other drugs.

In fact, according to data from the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration, numbers are in the single digits among 12-17-year-olds who smoke (2%), drink alcohol (9%) or use marijuana (7%).

Research over the past two decades has taught us a lot that we didn’t know before. Using substances as a teen can be harmful and interferes with healthy brain development — especially in the parts of the brain that control memory, learning, judgment and emotions. It also significantly increases the risk of lifetime addiction.

Substances today are a lot different than those that you may have encountered as a teen. They are more potent and addictive, and many are marketed in ways that directly appeal to kids.

The good news is that there are things you can do to prevent your teen from experimenting with substances or to intervene if they have. The majority of teens say that their parents are the most important influence on their decisions about whether or not to use substances.

* * *

According to the most recent data1, numbers are in the single digits among 12-17-year-olds who smoke (2%), drink alcohol (9%) or use marijuana (7%).

These numbers are encouraging, and as a parent, you’re in the best position to keep your child healthy. The majority of teens say their parents are the most important influence on their decisions about whether or not to drink or use drugs.

Any teen use is a concern

Over the past two decades research has helped us understand the unique risks of substance use during the teen years, a time when major changes are taking place in the the brain. Introducing any addictive substance during this sensitive time can have both short- and long-term effects. It can interfere with healthy development — especially in the parts of the brain that control memory, learning, judgment and emotions. And it significantly increases the risk of lifetime addiction.

Even if your teen only uses once or once in a while, it can still cause damage and lead to negative consequences, including addiction. Symptoms of nicotine dependence often develop soon after first use. In the case of prescription pain relievers, even prescribed use during adolescence is associated with a higher risk of opioid addiction in early adulthood.

What works for prevention

A child’s sex, race, economic background or most other demographic characteristics can’t predict whether or not they’ll use substances. Everyone is different and some teens are at a higher or lower risk for substance use than others. But no child is immune, no matter their grades or how involved, or who they’re friends with.

There are many reasons why young people use or try substances. In some cases, it can be as simple as being offered a drink or vape. To encourage healthy decision making, we recommend parents focus on fostering their child’s:

  • mental health
  • sense of social support from friends and family
  • connection to school and community
  • knowledge and understanding of the risks of substance use
  • relationship with yourself and/or other caring adults

Schools can’t be the only source of information about substance use. Substance use prevention that involves the family has been found to be the most effective. Not all schools have adequate prevention programming, and no school is able to tailor its programming to the needs of each individual child.

Even if schools do have prevention strategies, parents play an even more important role in helping children navigate the world and make healthy decisions. You are uniquely positioned to identify early signs of trouble in your child’s life, many of which might not be noticeable to even the most-dedicated school professional. Regular and honest communication with your child is key.

Modeling healthy behavior

Modeling healthy behavior — which may include drinking responsibly — is a good thing. But allowing teens to use substances in a ‘safe’ or supervised manner sends the wrong message and doesn’t protect against future problems.

Alcohol use simply isn’t safe for young people. And evidence shows that starting use at a young age increases the chance of later addiction to one or more substances.

  • Adolescents whose parents allow use of drugs or alcohol in the home are more likely to engage in problem substance use, including heavy drinking.2
  • Adolescents who drink with their parents or whose parents provide them with alcohol are more likely to drink in a high-risk manner well into adulthood.3

There is a common misconception that the cultural norms around alcohol in Europe – which is more permissive of teen drinking – lead to better outcomes. The rates of alcohol problems among youth and adults are actually higher in Europe. According to international data from the World Health Organization (ESPAD)4, European teens consistently report higher levels of drinking, binge drinking and alcohol-related problems compared to youth in the United States.

An extra word of caution

Today’s substances are more harmful than those you may have been exposed to as a teen. Most substances today are more potent and addictive than in the past, and many are marketed in ways that directly appeal to kids.

Today’s Substances Are More Harmful than Those You May Have Been Exposed to as a Teen

Most substances today are more potent and addictive than in the past, and many are marketed in ways that directly appeal to kids. Appealing flavors, youth-friendly packaging and playful names downplay the risks and can increase the likelihood of using more than they otherwise would.


  • The nicotine content in vaping products is equal to or higher than that found in cigarettes, and the type of nicotine used in some vaping products are designed to enter the bloodstream faster, increasing the likelihood of addiction and other negative health consequences.
  • Vaping products are very discreet and easy to hide, allowing young people to use them more frequently and intensely throughout the day compared to smoking a cigarette.
  • Vaping products come in countless flavors that appeal strongly to young people, increasing their interest in using them and reducing the perceived harm of the products.


  • Alcohol products today come in many more forms and flavors than in the past, most of which appeal to youth because they mask the harsh taste of alcohol with sweet flavors and because they come in forms that resemble soda cans or fruit juice, making them more discreet and easy to hide
  • The fruit flavors and low-calorie marketing claims also convey to youth that these products are healthier than beer and other traditional forms of alcohol when, in fact, they contain the same or higher amounts of alcohol than those products.


  • The potency of THC (the psychoactive and addictive ingredient in cannabis/marijuana) in most cannabis products today is nearly four times higher than it was 20 years ago: the average percentage of THC in seized cannabis samples in 1995 was 3.96% while it was 15.61% in 2018.
  • The ways in which youth ingest marijuana now compared to in the past – specifically, dabbing or vaping concentrated cannabis or using edibles, compared to smoking a joint, allow for ingestion of much higher doses of THC (up to 95%) on a single occasion.


Subjective Responses to Alcohol in the Development and Maintenance of Alcohol Use Disorder



Alcohol use disorder (AUD) remains an urgent public health problem. Longitudinal data are needed to clarify the role of acute subjective responses to alcohol in the development and maintenance of excessive drinking and AUD. The authors report on 10 years of repeated examination of acute alcohol responses in the Chicago Social Drinking Project.


Young adult drinkers (N=190) participated in an initial alcohol challenge (0.8 g/kg of alcohol compared with placebo) that was repeated 5 and 10 years later. They were also assessed on drinking behavior and AUD symptoms at numerous intervals across the decade. Retention was high, as 184 of the 185 (99%) nondeceased active participants completed the 10-year follow-up, and 91% (163 of 179) of those eligible for alcohol consumption engaged in repeated laboratory testing during this interval.


At the end of the decade, 21% of participants met criteria for past-year AUD. Individuals who reported the greatest alcohol stimulation, liking, and wanting at the initial alcohol challenge were most likely to have developed AUD 10 years later. Further, alcohol-induced stimulation and wanting increased in reexamination testing among those with the highest AUD symptoms as the decade progressed.


Initial stimulant and rewarding effects of alcohol predicted heavy alcohol use, and the magnitude of these positive subjective effects increased over a 10-year period in those who developed AUD compared with those who did not develop the disorder. The findings demonstrate systematic changes in subjective responses to alcohol over time, providing an empirical basis for prevention, early intervention, and treatment strategies.

Facts About Alcohol & Suicide

What’s the problem?

  • Alcohol is involved over a quarter of all suicides in the US (approximately 7500 per year).
  • Suicide is 120 times more prevalent among adult alcoholics than in the general population.
  • Alcohol abusers have higher rates of both attempted and completed suicide than non-abusers.
  • More than one-third of suicide victims used alcohol just prior to death.

How is alcohol use related to suicidal risk?

Alcohol increases impulsivity and decreases inhibition. It increases negative self-image and decreases self-esteem; deepens depression and social isolation; and rises with the amount and length of time alcohol is consumed. Alcohol use fosters either/or and all or nothing thinking, and a lower concern for the future consequences of one’s actions. Many suicide attempts occur during binge drinking.

Among those who are alcohol dependent, 18% complete suicide. Alcohol plays a major role in suicides among elders and veterans. In suicides associated with alcohol misuse men account for 80% of the victims, women for 20%. Alcohol use is also often a factor in suicidal behavior among male teens.

What are the main risk factors for suicide linked to alcohol use?

Personal loss (divorce, separation, death)
Legal/criminal justice problems
Job problems/unemployment/financial loss
Early onset of drinking
History of abuse, trauma, violence, pain
Family history of alcoholism
Past suicidal behavior and attempts
Access to firearms

What about co-occurring disorders?

Co-occurring alcohol abuse and mental illness significantly increases risk. Those who misuse alcohol and street or prescription drugs have a 40 times greater risk of suicide. Co-occurrence opens an individual’s exposure to more suicide risk factors, weakens family supports, and lessens the likelihood of help and intervention.

What about “chronic suicidality”?

Many chronic alcohol misusers make frequent suicide threats, but often have vague plans and low intent to die. This behavior is commonly coincident with demands for immediate shelter, hospitalization, detox, rehab or other help. Such contingent threats (“If you don’t…I will…”) are often regarded as manipulation. Nonetheless most “chronic suiciders” have multiple serious risk factors and may be at increasing risk of suicide.

What are the immediate danger signs of suicide?

Immediately call 610-279-6100, 9-1-1, or 1-800- 273-TALK (National Suicide Lifeline) or text SOS to 741741 if you encounter:

  • Someone threatening to hurt or kill themself
  • Someone looking for ways to take their life (i.e., a gun, pills, other lethal means)
  • Someone talking, writing, or drawing about death, dying, or suicide
  • Other signs may include giving away personal items, trying to put personal affairs in order, making unexpected calls/visits to relatives or friends, and references to a doable plan for completing suicide.


Does alcohol and other drug abuse increase the risk for suicide? HHS

A number of recent national surveys have helped shed light on the relationship between alcohol and other drug use and suicidal behavior. A review of minimum-age drinking laws and suicides among youths age 18 to 20 found that lower minimum-age drinking laws was associated with higher youth suicide rates. In a large study following adults who drink alcohol, suicide ideation was reported among persons with depression. In another survey, persons who reported that they had made a suicide attempt during their lifetime were more likely to have had a depressive disorder, and many also had an alcohol and/or substance abuse disorder. In a study of all non-traffic injury deaths associated with alcohol intoxication, over 20 percent were suicides.

In studies that examine risk factors among people who have completed suicide, substance use and abuse occurs more frequently among youth and adults, compared to older persons. For particular groups at risk, such as American Indians and Alaskan Natives, depression and alcohol use and abuse are the most common risk factors for completed suicide. Alcohol and substance abuse problems contribute to suicidal behavior in several ways. Persons who are dependent on substances often have a number of other risk factors for suicide. In addition to being depressed, they are also likely to have social and financial problems. Substance use and abuse can be common among persons prone to be impulsive, and among persons who engage in many types of high risk behaviors that result in self-harm. Fortunately, there are a number of effective prevention efforts that reduce risk for substance abuse in youth, and there are effective treatments for alcohol and substance use problems. Researchers are currently testing treatments specifically for persons with substance abuse problems who are also suicidal, or have attempted suicide in the past.

Alcoholics' Suicide Risk Increases With Age

If you are having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text sos TO 741741 for support and assistance from a trained counselor 24/7. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.

Drinking alcohol has been linked to a number of suicides and suicidal attempts. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration, a diagnosis of alcohol misuse or dependence is associated with a suicide risk that is 10 times greater than those in the general population.1?

Of those medically treated after a suicide attempt, alcohol use disorders were found to be a significant factor, with acute alcohol intoxication present in about 30% to 40% of cases.1?

Now there is evidence that suicide risk among alcoholics increases as they become older as well. People with alcohol use disorder who are middle-aged and older are at a significantly higher risk for suicide compared to their younger counterparts.

This could prove to be a significant factor for baby boomers, many of whom have substance use problems, as they begin to reach retirement age.

Increased Risk of Suicide

The statistics are the result of a study published in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.2? Lead author Kenneth R. Conner, assistant professor at the University of Rochester Medical Center, notes that "This was the first study of a sample of adults across the age spectrum that explicitly focused on factors that increase the risk for suicide and medically serious suicide attempts associated with ?alcohol dependence."

For the purposes of the study, a medically serious suicide attempt was defined as one that required hospital admission for up to 24 hours. It also needed to meet one other criterion that described the type of treatment received.

"Data were gathered from medically serious attempters because they are a subgroup of suicide attempters who engaged in the especially dangerous behavior, suggesting a high intent to die," said Conner. Even if not successful the first time, he notes that the risk of dying in subsequent attempts is higher.

Age-Related Patterns

In general, adolescents and young adults are at the highest risk for attempted suicides throughout the world. Yet, most of these attempts do not result in death. In contrast, though the attempts may be less frequent, men over age 65 are at the greatest risk for completed suicide.

To researchers, this reinforced the idea that there are different patterns related to age and suicide. This finding was backed up by a later 2017 study that found an increase in suicide attempts in older people who did and did not have substance use problems.3? Among the concerns is the fact that the compounding life experiences of older alcoholics are not the same as their younger counterparts.

Placing all ages into one group is not an accurate way to gauge the suicide risks of either alcoholics or non-alcoholics.

Medically Serious Suicide Attempts

The Rochester researchers examined data gathered by Annette L. Beautrais and colleagues for the Canterbury Suicide Project. This is a case-control study of suicides, medically serious suicide attempts, and randomly selected comparison subjects from the Canterbury region of New Zealand.

All subjects in the study were 18 years of age or older: 193 (149 males, 44 females) had died by committing suicide; 240 (114 males, 126 females) had made a medically serious suicide attempt; and 984 (476 males, 508 females) were controls. Researchers compared demographic and diagnostic variables.

Increased Vulnerability of Older Adults

The results found that there is indeed a link between alcohol dependence and suicide becomes amplified with age.4? Increased age also amplified the association between mood disorders and suicide. Overall, researchers in this field continue to look at the associations between age, alcohol use disorder, and suicide.

In addition to these factors, many experts note that mood disorders like depression must also be accounted for as they can also make older adults more vulnerable.

It is believed that older adults with alcohol use disorder are at a higher risk of suicide because of the emotional and physical tolls their addictions take over the years. The results of these studies serve as a warning that anyone dealing with alcoholism—their own or that of a loved one—should be aware of the warning signs of suicidal ideation and be prepared to get help.

Alcohol Abuse And Suicide – Risk Factors, Dangers, And Prevention

Alcohol is a significant factor when it comes to a person’s risk of suicide. In fact, a person addicted to alcohol is up to 120 times more likely to commit suicide than someone with no substance use disorder. Getting treatment for alcohol addiction is the best way to prevent suicidal thoughts and actions as a result of alcohol abuse.

Alcohol abuse and addiction have been linked to a number of health problems and other consequences. These include social, financial, and work problems as well as the risk of overdose and disease. However, there is one consequence that is commonly overlooked – the increased risk of suicide.

Alcohol is a component in an estimated 25 percent of all suicides in the United States. Additionally, it’s been found that suicide is up to 120 percent more likely among adult alcoholics than the general population. These statistics are alarming and should not be taken lightly.

There are several ways that alcohol abuse and addiction may contribute to the risk of suicide. Let’s look at the relationship between alcohol and suicide.

Risk Factors Associated With Alcohol Abuse And Suicide

Alcohol abuse and addiction and suicide have a number of risk factors in common. For example, genetics play a role in the development of both conditions. However, it’s important to note that having one or many risk factors doesn’t necessarily mean a person will experience alcohol addiction or suicide.

Common risk factors that may influence a person’s predisposition to alcohol addiction and/or suicide include:


  • Genes — Substance use disorders are highly genetic. If someone has a close relative who suffers from alcohol addiction, he or she will be much more likely to experience addiction as well. Additionally, having a family member who has engaged in suicidal behavior or died by suicide increases a person’s risk of exhibiting the same behaviors.
  • Exposure — Being exposed to either suicide behaviors or alcoholism in the home and community increases a person’s risk for both conditions.
  • Stressors — Environmental stressors may play a role in a person’s susceptibility to both alcohol addiction and suicidal behavior. However, the risk is believed to be impacted more by how a person perceives these stressors than by the stressors themselves.
  • Trauma — Traumatic experiences such as abuse and violence may influence the development of alcohol addiction and/or suicidal behaviors.

Additional risk factors for both alcohol addiction and suicide may include unemployment, poverty, and loss.

There are also certain risk factors that are specific to each condition. For example, a previous suicide attempt is one of the strongest risk factors associated with future suicidal behavior. Stressors such as an alcohol relapse or the loss of a loved one can also directly influence a person’s risk for suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

Danger Signs Of Alcohol-Related Suicide Risk

It’s not always easy to determine when someone is in danger of suicidal thoughts or behaviors. Many people experiencing both suicidal tendencies and alcohol addiction stay quiet about their conditions. However, there are some signs that may indicate that someone is at an increased risk of alcohol-related suicide.

Danger signs of alcohol-induced suicidal thoughts or behaviors include:

  • Dangerous Or Risky Behavior — A common side effect of alcohol intoxication is increased participation in risky behaviors such as sexual encounters and drunk driving. However, someone who attempts or hints towards extremely dangerous experiments or behaviors may be indicating a pre-planned alcohol-induced suicide attempt.
  • Talking About Suicidal Thoughts — Joking or talking about suicide while intoxicated could be a sign that someone is at risk for going through with these thoughts.
  • Previous Suicidal Attempts Or Self Harm — Someone with a past history of suicidal behavior or suicide attempts who is also addicted to alcohol is more likely to participate in future suicide behaviors.

Danger signs of suicide should not be ignored. Even if the person appears to be joking, stress or another negative event could trigger the person to act on a suicidal impulse.

Prevention Of Alcohol-Related Suicide

Seeking treatment for co-occurring alcohol addiction and depression is the best way to prevent the possibility of alcohol-induced suicide. While research on suicide and alcohol addiction treatment is limited, great success has been shown in treating a dual diagnosis of addiction and depression.

Individuals suffering from these conditions often find the most success through formal treatment programs specializing in dual diagnosis. This may include inpatient or residential treatment. Many inpatient programs offer comprehensive plans of recovery to address every aspect of a person’s dual diagnosis.

Many people will experience decreased depression symptoms like suicidal thoughts after a period of abstinence from alcohol. However, most people will need to continue with long-term mental health treatment for the best results.

Are Alcohol and Suicide Linked?

If you or someone you know struggles with alcohol use and is depressed, you may be concerned about suicide. If so, you are right to worry; a strong link exists between alcohol and suicide. Drunk people are more likely to commit suicide. In addition, people who struggle with alcohol use have a high suicide risk. Suicide and drinking are linked, and it is important to be able to tell when someone who drinks may be at risk of killing themselves.

Drunk With Suicidal Thoughts

Doctors know that suicide and alcohol use go hand-in-hand. Being drunk plays a role in many suicide attempts. Many people are more suicidal when drunk than when they are sober. Doctors think this happens because being drunk loosens the self-restraint you feel. Drunk people are known to have a hard time weighing the pros and cons of decisions, and finding solutions to problems. Therefore, you may have suicidal thoughts after drinking. When you are sober, even though you may think about suicide, you have the self-control to not do it because you can think through your actions. This control goes away when you are drunk, possibly leading to a higher risk of suicide. Doctors believe that drunk people tend to be more depressed than when they are sober. The combination of these two factors leads to a higher risk of suicide when you are drunk.

Alcoholic With Suicidal Thoughts

People who struggle with alcohol use are at a much higher risk of suicide than other people. Studies have shown that people who have problems with alcohol have a suicide rate up to 10 times higher than others. Forty percent of people who received treatment for a drinking problem report having tried suicide at least once. Men are at a higher risk than women. Doctors think that people struggling with alcohol and thinking about suicide may have a lower risk of suicide if they quit drinking.

There is an even higher risk of suicide in people who struggle with alcohol use if they also have depression. Suicidal alcoholic depression can be deadly. A few different studies found that more than 80% of people who committed suicide have a history of not only alcohol misuse, but also depression. Doctors think it is possible that excessive alcohol use in some people is their way of trying to treat their depression.

How To Help An Alcoholic With Suicidal Thoughts

It can sometimes be hard to know if someone is thinking of suicide. Some of the warning signs that someone is thinking of suicide include if the person:

  • Talks about wanting to die, or talks about suicide
  • Looks into ways to kill themselves, such as buying a gun or looking up websites on how to commit suicide
  • Speaks about feeling like there is no hope in life or no reason to live
  • Talks about living in pain they cannot deal with
  • Says they are a burden to those around them
  • Drinks more alcohol or uses more drugs than normal
  • Acts reckless, anxious, or agitated
  • Has sleep problems
  • Withdraws from those around them
  • Acts angry or talks about wanting revenge
  • Has mood swings

If you believe a loved one is thinking of suicide, it is crucial to seek emergency help as soon as you can. Ccall1-800-273-8255, or text SOS to 741741 24/7

The way you talk to someone thinking about suicide can also be very important. If you are wondering how to help a suicidal alcoholic, some tips include:

  • Be open and direct: ask if they are thinking about suicide
  • Listen without judging, arguing, or acting shocked
  • Show support for the person and show that you are around to help them
  • Don’t promise to keep your conversation secret
  • Remove the means of suicide from the person, such as guns, rope and car keys

Alcohol Suicide Statistics

Alcohol is involved in many suicide attempts. Studies show that about 39% of emergency room visits for suicide attempts involve alcohol mixed with other drugs. Many other attempts end up being successful cases of suicide by alcohol: 22% of deaths by suicide occur in drunk people.

Key points: Alcohol and Suicidal Thoughts

Important points about alcohol and suicide include:

  • Being drunk makes you more likely to attempt suicide because you have less self-control and often have a lower mood than when you are sober
  • People who struggle with alcohol use have a very high rate of suicide attempts
  • Many people who struggle with alcohol have depression
  • You can help someone with suicidal thoughts by listening without judgment, keeping them safe and supporting them
  • The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is available at 1-800-273-8255 or text SOS to 741741 24/7


Drug-Related suicide attempts by middle aged adults likely to involve alcohol combined with drugs

Involvement of alcoIn 2013, an estimated 1.3 million adults aged 18 or older (0.6 percent of the population) attempted suicide in the past year, 2.7 million (1.1 percent) made suicide plans, and 9.3 million (3.9 percent) had serious thoughts of suicide.1 The rate of death by suicide for middle-aged adults (aged 35 to 64) increased by 28.4 percent from 1999 to 2010.2

According to the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN), an estimated 228,366 emergency department (ED) visits were for drug-related suicide attempts in 2011. Of these, middle-aged patients aged 35 to 64 accounted for 99,559 of these visits. About 39 percent (38,616 visits) of ED visits for drug-related suicide attempts by middle-aged patients involved alcohol combined with other drugs. In contrast, only 24 percent of other drug-related ED visits (excluding adverse reactions) by middle-aged patients involved alcohol combined with other drugs.

Although substance abuse problems are not always present in patients who visit the ED for drug-related suicide attempts, alcohol and drug use are commonly associated with suicidal behavior.3 People who are seriously considering suicide may have a lower risk of suicide attempts after they stop using drugs and alcohol, compared with those who are suicidal and are still using drugs or alcohol.4 Therefore, families, friends, clinicians, and suicide prevention programs should consider encouraging those at risk for suicide to abstain from using alcohol and drugs.

1. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2013). Results from the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Detailed tables (Tables 2.77B and 2.79B). Retrieved from

2. Sullivan, E. M., Annest, J. L., Luo, F., Simon, T. R., & Dahlberg, L. L. (2013). Suicide among adults aged 35–64 years—United States, 1999–2010. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 62(17), 321–325. Retrieved from

3. Borges, G., Walters, E. E., & Kessler, R. C. (2000). Associations of substance use, abuse and dependence with subsequent suicidal behavior. American Journal of Epidemiology, 151(8), 781-789.

4. Han, B., Compton, W. M., Gfroerer, J., & McKeon, R. (2015). Prevalence and correlates of past 12-month suicide attempt among adults with past-year suicidal ideation in the United States. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 76(3), 295–302.

Alcoholism and Suicide Risk 1/15/21

Suicide is one of the major causes of death in the U.S. among people who struggle with a substance use disorder such as alcoholism. Learn how alcohol may increase the risk of suicide.

Suicide, suicidal ideation, and suicidal attempts are major concerns for people who abuse alcohol, as alcohol use can lead to impaired judgment, decreased inhibitions, and impulsiveness.

When discussing suicide, it’s important to be aware of different terms: suicide is death caused by behaviors you engage in with the intent to die, suicidal attempts are potentially injurious behaviors that are intended to cause death but ultimately do not, and suicidal ideation involves planning for or otherwise contemplating suicide.1

If you (or someone you care about) have thoughts of self-harm or are thinking of taking action to hurt yourself, you should know that help is available and that you’re not alone. There is always a place to turn, no matter how dire or hopeless your situation may seem in the moment.

Reaching out for assistance and seeking appropriate treatment for alcohol abuse is one of the best ways to obtain support, overcome the addiction to alcohol, and prevent suicide.

Scope of the Problem

Suicide is a serious global health issue and one of the biggest preventable causes of death in the United States. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), close to 800,000 people commit suicide each year around the world.2 Globally, there’s approximately one death every 40 seconds from suicide.3

In the United States, there were more than 47,000 deaths due to suicide in 2017.1 Suicide is the second leading cause of death for people between the ages of 10 and 34 and the fourth leading cause of death for those between ages 35 and 54.1

In 2017, more than twice as many suicides were committed in the U.S. than homicides.1 Further, between 1999 and 2018, the suicide rate increased by 35%, from 10.5 per 100,000 people to 14.2.4 In those same years, the suicide rate for males was between 3.5 and 4.5 times the rate for females.4

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, around 4% of adults aged 18 or older had serious thoughts of suicide in the past 12 months.5 Past survey results have indicated that firearms were the most common method of suicide among men, while women were more likely to commit suicide by poisoning (which includes drugs and alcohol).1

Certain populations have a higher risk of suicide. These include American Indians, Alaska Natives, people who have lost someone to suicide, people involved in the criminal justice and child welfare systems, people who engage in self-harming behaviors, people who have medical conditions, people with mental health and/or substance use disorders, members of the LGBT community, veterans and members of the armed forces, men in midlife, and older men.5

How Prevalent is Substance Abuse and Suicide in the US?

Suicide is one of the major causes of death in the U.S. among people who struggle with a substance use disorder (SUD).5 Although there’s a well-established connection between suicide and alcohol use, less is known about the relationship between suicide and other types of substance abuse.4 There is some indication, however, that the number of substances being used may more closely predict suicide than the specific types of substances a person uses.5

Previous estimates from the CDC have indicated that approximately 22% of suicides involve blood alcohol content (BAC) levels at or above the legal limit.5 The CDC has also indicated that 20% of suicides involve opioids (such as heroin and prescription opioid painkillers), 10.2% marijuana use, 4.6% cocaine use, and 3.4% amphetamine use.5

Between 2000 and 2018, there were 1,677,435 suicide attempts among people aged 10-25 that involved self-poisoning. The most serious outcomes were due to the use of over-the-counter analgesics (e.g., acetaminophen), antidepressants, antihistamines, and antipsychotics.6

How Does Alcohol Abuse Affect Suicide and Suicidal Attempts?

Acute alcohol intoxication is involved in 30-40% of all suicide attempts.5 Past studies have suggested that heavy drinkers may have a suicide risk 5 times that of social drinkers, while people with issues of alcohol abuse or dependence may have a suicide risk 10 times greater than the general population. 3,5

Suicide and alcohol abuse are both complex issues that develop as a result of a wide range of factors that can vary by individual circumstances. In addition to contributing factors such as decreased inhibitions and poor judgment, an increased risk of suicidal behavior could stem from alcohol’s potential to increase psychological distress and aggressive behavior.7 Alcohol can also impair cognition, leading to individuals forgoing healthy coping strategies.7

People who have co-occurring mood disorders (particularly depressive disorders) and struggle with alcohol abuse may have a relatively higher risk of suicide than those with no mental health issues, and this risk may become more pronounced with age.9 This is particularly true in middle-aged and older men.9

A systematic review of 31 studies investigated the relationship between alcohol use disorder (AUD), the diagnostic term used for alcoholism, and suicide. The results showed a significant relationship between AUD and suicidal ideation, suicide attempts, and completed suicide. The researchers concluded that a diagnosis of AUD is a significant “predictor of suicide and great source of premature death.”10

Treatment for Suicidal Behaviors and Alcoholism

Whether you’re seeking treatment for yourself or you’re concerned about a loved one, know that there are many ways to help prevent suicide and stop alcohol abuse. Many people in similar situations have benefited from a combination of mental health and substance abuse treatment.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), specific programs that provide support and life skills training have been shown to help protect people from both suicide and substance abuse.5 Identifying and treating alcoholism is a crucial component of suicide prevention.3 A failure to identify specific alcohol-related disorders can result in both increased morbidity and mortality of those at risk of suicide. 3

Behavioral approaches to treating alcoholism should also incorporate specific therapeutic elements, including social skills training, goal setting, and education on relapse prevention. Evidence-based approaches used to treat alcoholism include:11

  • Brief Interventions: These are short and time-limited approaches where a counselor provides personalized feedback about your habits and risks and helps you identify goals for treatment so you can form a plan to stop drinking.
  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy: This form of therapy can be applied in either one-on-one or small group settings. It aims to help people identify maladaptive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that can contribute to problematic patterns of drinking. The goal is to help people develop healthier thoughts and coping skills so they can better decrease their drinking behavior or avoid a relapse in the future.
  • Motivational Enhancement Therapy: This is a short-term treatment to increase a person’s motivation to stop drinking. People work with a therapist to discuss the pros and cons of seeking treatment, work to build confidence, form a treatment plan to stop drinking, and develop the skills needed to stick with it.
  • Marital and Family Counseling: As family members and spouses are also affected by a person’s drinking, it’s important to include them as a part of a comprehensive treatment program. Marital and family counseling aims to strengthen and repair relationships. It’s also been proven to help people maintain abstinence.

Suicide Hotlines

Suicide hotlines are designed to assist people contemplating suicide or otherwise in distress by providing emotional support and connecting them with crisis resources. The following resources offer confidential services, so you don’t have to provide any identifying information if you don’t want to.

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. This hotline is available 24/7, 365 days a year. It has a separate hotline for Spanish-speaking callers available at 1-888-628-9454. If you are deaf or hard-of-hearing, you can chat with a Lifeline counselor 24/7 via the following options:
    • Online chat by clicking the chat button on this website.
    • Video relay service by calling 1-800-273-8255.
    • TTY by calling 1-800-799-4889.
    • Voice/Caption Phone by calling 800-273-8255.
  • Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1. or text to 838255.You may also text 838255 or chat online through their website. If you are deaf or hard-of-hearing, call 1-800-799-4889. Their services are available to all veterans, service members, members of the National Guard and Reserve, and their family members and friends.
  • Vets4Warriors at 1-855-838-8255. You can click on the chat button on their website or email them at This is a support service designed for veterans but it is not a crisis hotline; it is intended to help you “address challenges before they escalate into a crisis.” You will be connected with a peer who is also a veteran or member of the armed forces.
  • IMALIVE chatline, which can be reached through clicking the button on their website. It is a nonprofit chatline that offers suicide intervention, prevention, awareness, and education services 24/7, 365 days a year.
  • Crisis Text Line by texting 741741. Services are offered 24/7 and you will usually be connected with a trained crisis volunteer within 5 minutes.
  • The Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386. You can also connect via instant messaging using the button on their website or by texting START to 678-678. Services are available 24/7, 365 days a year. This program is specifically geared toward providing crisis intervention and preventing suicide in LGBTQ youth.
  • The Trans Lifeline at 1-877-565-8860 This trans-led organization “connects trans people to the community, support, and resources they need to survive and thrive.” You can call if you are in crisis or if you just need someone to talk to. Full anonymity & confidentiality. No nonconsensual active rescue (calling 911, emergency services, or law enforcement). The hotline is open 24/7. We have operators guaranteed to be on call during the following hours: Hawaii: 5:00am-12:00am; Alaska: 6:00am-1:00am: Pacific: 7:00am-2:00am: Mountain: 8:00am-3:00am: Central: 9:00am-4:00am: Eastern: 10:00am-5:00am
  • Asian LifeNet Hotline at 1-877-990-8585. Services are available 24/7, and you can be connected with someone who speaks Cantonese, Mandarin, Japanese, Korean, or Fujianese.

The SAMHSA helpline at 1-800-662-4357 or TTY 1-800-487-4889. This confidential, free, 24/7, 365-day-a-year information service is available in English and Spanish for people and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. It is not a crisis hotline, but it provides information and referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations.

It’s important to call 911 or a hotline right away if you or a friend or family member are in danger or are actively considering suicide. Don’t delay in reaching out for help.

The Relationship Between Alcohol & Suicide

Alcohol and suicide are known to have a causal relationship. Alcohol disinhibits the brain causing impulsivity and poor decision making. Research shows a strong link between alcohol use among people diagnosed with depression. According to the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, “Alcohol abuse may lead to suicidality through disinhibition, impulsiveness and impaired judgment, but it may also be used as a means to ease the distress associated with committing an act of suicide.”

Statistics: Alcohol & Suicide

  • Alcohol is involved in more than a quarter of all suicides in the United States.
  • People who abuse alcohol have higher rates of both attempted and completed suicide than those who don’t abuse alcohol.
  • In suicides associated with alcohol misuse, 80% of the victims are men and 20% are women.
  • Alcohol is often a factor in suicidal behavior among young men and male teens.
  • People who misuse drugs and alcohol have a 40 times greater risk of suicide than those who do not.

Talking About Suicide Doesn't Cause it

It is a common misconception that by asking someone about suicide, you might plant the idea in their head or cause them to consider it. The research is clear that this is not the case. If you are concerned about a loved one, ask them about suicide, and do it directly:

  • Are you thinking about killing yourself?
  • Have you thought about killing yourself?
  • Do you ever wish that you were dead?
  • Do you have a plan for how you would kill yourself?

If the answer to any of the above questions is yes, also find out what keeps them from following through.

Call a crisis phone line 800-273-8255 or text line 741741 or 9-1-1 if your loved one can’t commit to stay safe or you have reason to believe that they may follow through on thoughts or suicide. Even if you believe they are safe for the time being, it is important that they seek counseling to address underlying depression, trauma, and other contributing factors.

Suicidal Thoughts & Self-harm Behaviors are Not the Same Thing

Self-harming behaviors can result in accidental death, but generally, the intention behind self-harm is not death. People may self-harm as a form of self-punishment, to distract from emotional pain, or to relieve a feeling of numbness and disconnection. It is important to determine a person’s intention in self-harming.

Signs of Suicidal Thoughts

  • Talking about/threatening to hurt or kill self
  • Making plans, researching ways to kill self
  • Drawing, writing, obsessing over death
  • Giving away belongings
  • Saying goodbye with unexpected calls to friends or relatives

Suicide is Preventable: Help is Available

The first step in addressing thoughts of suicide is to tell a trusted adult. Don’t be alone with these thoughts. A professional can help you get treatment for underlying depression, learn to work through and express difficult emotions and help you develop coping skills for dealing with hard situations.

Limit access to firearms and medications does not entirely prevent suicide. However, studies show that limiting access to these common means of suicide makes people less likely to complete suicide.

Binge Drinking Increases Suicide Risk

Alcohol and Suicide

Suicide is one of the leading causes of death around the globe, but it is a topic that most people feel uncomfortable talking about. Despite how frequently it occurs, there is a great taboo against people taking their own life. It is viewed as a drastic action because it is irreversible. Family members of those who have committed suicide can be deeply impacted by the event. Not only will they have to deal with the loss but also the social stigma attached to it. Many of those who are left behind will never completely come to terms with what happened.

There is a close relationship between alcohol consumption and suicide. Excessive drinking may not be the direct cause of the suicidal thoughts, but intoxication can give the individual the mindset to take their own life. It seems almost certain that in many cases the people who committed suicide would not have gone through with it if they had been sober. The pattern of alcohol consumption that is most often associated with suicide is binge drinking.

Binge Drinking Defined

Those who binge drink are consuming alcohol with the intention of feeling the effects of intoxication. In practice this means that the individual consumes a large quantity of alcohol in a short period of time with the intention of getting drunk. This may be a behavior that the individual only engages in once or twice a week, but it can still be highly dangerous. In the US it is standard to define binge drinking as:

  • Men who consume more than five drinks in one session.
  • Women who consume more than four drinks in one session.

In the above example a drink is a standard beer, a glass of wine, or a bar shot of standard spirits.

Suicide Defined

Suicide can be defined as the act or an instance of taking one’s own life voluntarily and intentionally. It also involves any thoughts, plans or attempts of the individual to end their own life. This act of committing suicide is often referred to as, a permanent solution to a temporary problem. This refers to the fact that, at least in the eyes of other people, the reasons to justify the suicide are usually solvable problems. Ending life is a shame when there are other less drastic options open to the individual.

Causes of Suicide

There are many reasons for why an individual might attempt suicide including:

  • When people are suffering the intoxicating effects of alcohol or drugs it means they are more likely to make impulsive decisions. Suicide is rarely a spur of the moment decision but intoxication can give the individual the mindset to go through with the act.
  • Those individuals who are dealing with the symptoms of depression may be in a great deal of psychological discomfort and not see any reason to go on. When people are deep in depression they may not have the energy to commit suicide – it sometimes occurs when the individual appears to be getting over their depression.
  • There are people who are terminally ill or dealing with chronic pain. The decision of such people to commit suicide is highly controversial as there is no clear ethical guidance – some people believe that in certain extreme situations suicide is rational and ethical.
  • Those individuals who are suffering from mental health problems can be driven to take their own life. An example of this would be those individuals who have become psychotic and hear voices that are telling them to commit this act.
  • For some people the suicide attempt will be a cry for help. Unfortunately this attempt at seeking attention for their plight can lead to their actual death or leave them with permanent health consequences.
  • Those individuals who have a family history of suicide are more at risk of copying this behavior.
  • When people lose their job or suffer a major life trauma they may see suicide as the only answer.
  • Those people who are dealing with a high degree of loneliness may feel that they have nothing to live for. There are some individuals who find solitude to be a real blessing but other people will find that lack of companionship makes their life unbearable.
  • If people have suffered s serious mental trauma during childhood they will be more likely to commit this act.

Relationship between Binge Drinking and Suicide

Those individuals who successfully commit suicide will often have high blood alcohol concentrations. In fact alcohol use is the most frequently cited factor associated with suicidal behavior. It is likely that in many instances the end of life would have been prevented if the individual had not been binge drinking. The individual may have been already thinking of suicide but intoxication can produce the mental state that allows them to complete this act.

Reasons Why Binge Drinking Increases Risk of Suicide

There are a number of reasons for why binge drinking increases the risk of suicide including:

  • When people are inebriated they are more likely to act impulsively.
  • Excessive alcohol intake interferes with the person’s ability to make good decisions. This inability to reason properly means that the individual will fail to properly appreciate the consequences of their actions.
  • Those who regularly engage in binge drinking may develop the symptoms of depression. This increases their likelihood of developing suicidal thoughts.
  • The lack of inhibition means that the individual may act in ways that they later feel ashamed about – for example, they could become a violent drunk. This shame can drive them to take their own life.
  • It increases the risk that the individual will accidently commit suicide. Their inability to make good decisions means that their cry for help leads to their own death.
  • Drinking problems lead to deterioration in the life of the individual. This means that things can become too much for them and they believe that suicide is the only way out.

Binge Drinking and Teen Suicide

There is a strong relationship between teen suicide and binge drinking. It is suggested that those young people who adopt this pattern of drinking are four times more likely to commit suicide. Those teenagers who are binge drinking and who are dealing with stressful events in their life are the most at risk. It is suggested that 90% of the alcohol consumed by teenagers is in the form of binge drinking. As well as increasing their risk for suicide this pattern of drinking can also:

  • Teenagers who binge drink are likely to suffer from physical health problems. Studies have shown that young people who engage in this behavior are more likely to become overweight and develop high blood pressure – they can even enter the early stages of alcoholic liver disease or develop other problems.
  • Those people who begin drinking at an early age are more likely to develop alcoholism.
  • If people binge drinking during adolescents it can interfere with the normal development pattern that should occur at this stage in life.
  • This form of alcohol abuse is likely to prevent people from performing well in school or college. This may have negative consequences for their future prospects.
  • Such individuals are also more likely to drop out of school.
  • When people engage in this behavior it means they are more likely to slip into deviant behavior. This can include acts of vandalism leading to more serious crimes.
  • When young people are inebriated they are more likely to engage in sexual behavior that they will later regret. Such individuals will also be at higher risk of sexual assault.

Other Dangers Associated with Binge Drinking

The binge drinker may not consume alcohol every day but this does not mean that they will escape the mental and physical problems associated with alcohol abuse. As well as an increased risk of committing suicide the binge drinker will also be at risk of:

  • Those pattern of drinking will sometimes lead to alcohol poisoning. In this situation the individual’s blood alcohol content is so high that it can put their life in jeopardy – there are many examples of people who drowned on their own vomit while in this state.
  • It is not necessary for people to drink every day before they begin to develop alcoholic liver disease and other chronic conditions. Alcohol acts as a toxin in the body and it can do a great deal of damage.
  • People who engage in this pattern of drinking will suffer from a type of amnesia known as blackouts. There may be long periods of the time spent drinking that the individual just can’t remember.
  • Those who binge drink will often suffer from hangovers the next day. This means that they will be less able to perform their work duties and take care of other responsibilities.
  • This style of drinking increases the risk that people will engage in crime or be a victim of crime.
  • The vast majority of alcoholics will have started out as binge drinkers. It is the pattern of consumption that is mostly closely linked to alcohol addiction – it is not necessary for the individual to drink every day for them to become an alcoholic.
  • When people are inebriated they are more likely to do things that they later regret. It is common for binge drinkers to feel at least some embarrassment about things they did while under the influence.
  • Parents who engage in this behavior are setting a bad example for their children. These young people can grow up believing that this pattern of drinking is normal and acceptable.


Is it wrong to buy my child alcohol for their holiday?

Find out why you could be unintentionally putting your children in danger.

This summer UK holiday hotspots like Newquay in Cornwall are preparing for the arrival of an army of young people ready to celebrate the end of their exams. Some will have crates of beer in the car boot, or bottles of vodka in their rucksacks. And some of it will have been bought for them by their parents.

If you’re considering buying your son or daughter booze to take away on a holiday, camping trip or festival – then you’re not alone. Our latest research reveals that one in 10 parents (13%) have done so, with more than half (53%) buying them five or more bottles of spirits.

Vulnerable teenagers

For some parents, sending teenagers and their friends off on holiday with a crate of beer may seem like a good way to help them celebrate. Our research shows that they also believe it’s a way to keep control over their teenagers’ drinking.

One in five (22%) parents we surveyed admitted that they bought booze for their kids to keep tabs on their alcohol consumption. A third (36%) said they’d prefer to give their children alcohol rather than leaving them to get it from an unknown source.

But the truth is that when alcohol is put in inexperienced hands, it can make young people vulnerable to some difficult or dangerous situations. A lot of parents also don't realise that supplying alcohol to a child to consume outside of the home unsupervised is illegal.

Alcohol can create dangerous situations because of the way it lowers inhibitions and affects judgment – your child is more likely to start an argument, have an accident, or forget to use a condom if they’ve been drinking.

Alcohol affects motor skills too. This means that young people who have drunk alcohol to excess are more likely to be involved in accidents. Sometimes these accidents have tragic consequences, like the death of the two teenagers who fell off cliffs in Newquay after they’d been drinking last year.

According to their parents, when drinking alcohol:

  • Four out of five (79%) young people have been sick
  • One in five (20%) have been involved in an accident
  • Nearly one in ten (9%) have been injured
  • One in five (21%) have had unprotected sex
  • One in twenty (6%) have been in a fight.

A question of trust

According to the Chief Medical Officer for England and Wales, an alcohol-free childhood is best. The official guidelines go on to recommend that 15 to 17-year-olds should only drink when supervised by a parent or other adult, and definitely no more than once a week. The guidelines don't cover supplying alcohol to a child to consume outside of the home without supervison because it is against the law.

You may trust your teenagers to drink a small amount of alcohol around the house when supervised, but sending them off with their own supply can be very different. Even if you trust your teenagers to drink sensibly, that’s no guarantee that others won’t act irresponsibly around them, which could get them into trouble.

Staying safe

Luckily, as a parent there’s plenty you can do to keep your teenagers safe, even when you’re not around. Start by making sure that they feel able to ask you questions about alcohol and can come to you with any problems. The effects of alcohol often turn up in the news, soap operas or films, which can be a good opportunity to discuss drinking with them.

For the facts about alcohol and young people, plus techniques for talking to your kids about the dangers, download our ‘Your kids and alcohol’ guide. Our factsheets on alcohol and young people are also packed with useful information and practical tips designed to help them get clued-up about booze.

Waving your teenagers off on holiday can be a brilliant feeling. But knowing that they’ll stay safe while they’re away from home is even better. Giving your kids the facts about alcohol, and thinking twice about buying for them, is a great start.

Factsheets for under 18s

We have a range of factsheets aimed at under-18's. These are designed to compliment our workshop plans, which can be given out as part of a session or on their own.

Available factsheets

Download any of our four factsheets from the below links.

Alcohol and its journey through your body

Alcohol and your emotions

Alcohol and risk-taking

Alcohol and unprotected sex

All the information we provide is checked by our Medical Officer so you can rest assured that all the content is accurate and up to date.

Our Factsheets can be used alongside our workshop plans and materials.

The topics we have covered so far were suggested by professionals working with under-18s. Please email us if you have any other ideas for subjects areas: eMail

Research on alcohol and young people

There’s a vast amount of research and statistics out there relating to alcohol. We’ve put together a guide to the reports we think are key information to know if you’re working with young people.

New research: Mispredicting happiness across the adult lifespan: implications for the risky health behaviour of young people

A study of over 1000 Northern Ireland citizens aged over 15 conducted in 2007 found that those who negatively misjudged happiness in later life, more likely to be young people, were more likely to binge drink, affecting young men in particular. The authors felt that their findings had implications for messaging aimed at young men, that is, that it should focus on correcting these myths about decreasing happiness levels and emphasis the positive impacts of reducing alcohol consumption and other healthy lifestyle choices.

Go to website for report

Do Parents and Best Friends Influence the Normative Increase in Adolescents’ Alcohol Use at Home and Outside the Home?

The Netherlands (as well as elsewhere in Europe) tend to advise parents to socialise their children’s alcohol use to limit future problems. This research looked at the impact of parental supervision on Dutch adolescent later alcohol use both inside and outside the home, as well as the impact of drinking with a best friend, the drinking behaviour of parents and siblings, and the links between these factors on future problem drinking. The results showed that parental supervision did not appear to have any moderating effect on adolescent alcohol use outside of the home, that adolescents who drank within the home (with or without parents) were more likely to drink outside the home. The report recommends that that rather than introducing alcohol use, parents should try to delay it, in and out of the home, for as long as possible in their adolescent children. These findings cannot necessarily be easily related to the UK with its different drinking culture but are obviously interesting in light of the recent CMO guidance. Go to website for report

Do maternal parenting practices predict problematic patterns of adolescent alcohol consumption?

Using data from an Australian longitudinal study of mothers and their children from pregnancy to age 14, the authors examined whether problematic adolescent drinking patterns were linked to maternal parenting when the child was aged 5. Its main findings show that low maternal control at age 5 more strongly predicted occasional drinking patterns at age 14, and that frequent maternal partner change together with lower control were the circumstances most heavily linked to problematic drinking patterns in adolescence. This paper reinforces the role that parents own behaviour can play in affecting the way their child interacts with alcohol in the future. Go to website for report

R-rated Movie Viewing, Growth in Sensation Seeking and Alcohol Initiation: Reciprocal and Moderation Effects

A study of American young people aged 10-14, which observed them over a 2 year period. It concludes that watching R-rated (roughly equivalent to a 15 certificate in the UK) films was associated with an increase in sensation seeking behaviour among the young people, and increased their probability of initiating alcohol use. Allowing that personality can affect sensation seeking, the researchers showed that watching R-rated films raised the probability of alcohol initiation among low sensation seeking adolescents to around the same levels as those of highly exposed-high sensation seeker adolescents, and that the films had a lesser effect among those who already had high levels of sensation seeking. The study is an important contribution to the literature showing links between media exposure and alcohol consumption among young people. Go to website for report

Two of the researchers have also just recently released a follow up showing restricting R-rated film among young people makes them substantially less likely to start drinking than their peers who are allowed to see such films:

Parental R-Rated Movie Restriction and Early-Onset Alcohol Use

Alcohol consumption in sport: The influence of sporting idols, friends and normative drinking practices

This study looked at university students from two universities in Australia, some involved with sports, others not, and examined in part whether depictions of particular sports stars in the media as heavy drinkers affected the drinking patterns of young people. The researchers found that contrary to this, the students perceived sports stars, even high-profile sports stars, as drinking less than themselves and their friends. These sports stars may not, therefore, be the negative role models they are sometimes held to be. The researchers concluded rather that (mis)perceptions of drinking norms among peer groups were more stronger predictors for heavier alcohol use, and among sportspeople, the after-sport celebrations/commemorations.

While this study did not specifically look at under 18s it remains interesting to those working with young people. It is definitely an area that may need further research to see if the same can be said of younger adolescents. Go to website for report

Key research reports

Smoking, drinking and drug use among young people in England

An annual report issued by NHS Information Centre, this document is an essential tool for keeping track of the changes in the drinking habits of England’s 11-15 year olds. Its focus on drugs as well as alcohol provides some very useful contextual information. Go to website for report

Scottish Schools Adolescent Lifestyle and Substance Use Survey (SALSUS)

This series of school surveys is used to monitor and measure smoking, drinking and drug use among young people in Scotland. The latest report was completed by over 10,000 pupils aged 13 years old and 15 years old across Scotland. Go to website for report

European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs (ESPAD)

ESPAD is the largest cross-national research project on adolescent substance use in the world. Around forty different European countries are part of this project, enabling professionals to look at use of alcohol in the UK in context with that of neighbouring countries. Go to website for report

Chief Medical Officer’s Guidance on alcohol use by young people (2009)

Accompanying the guidance consulted on by the CMO this year, chapter 5 reviewed the epidemiological evidence on alcohol and young people, particularly looking at alcohol’s impact on brain development, and the link between early use of alcohol and later misuse and alcohol use disorders. Go to website for report

DCSF Use of Alcohol among Children and Young People (2008)

An extensive qualitative study that sought to understand attitudes towards and consumption of alcohol among children, young people and their parents. It also looked at which factors contributed to a non-drinking attitude and barriers that exist with relation to stopping drinking or listening to messages about alcohol. The study applied its findings to thinking about the appropriate design of alcohol interventions and messaging, as well as the role of current communication and advertising campaigns in influencing the lifestyle choices of families. Go to website for report (Inactive)

DCSF& Thomas Coram Research Unit Young People and Alcohol - Meanings, Practices and Contexts (2009)

Following on from the 2008 study, this study delved further into the role of alcohol and alcohol misuse in the lives of young people. This project combined qualitative studies with young people with three literature reviews on risk and protective factors , alcohol prevention programmes and effects of national policies. Go to website for report (Inactive)

NICE Interventions in schools to prevent and reduce alcohol use among children and young people (2007)

This edition of NICE’s public health guidance series focuses on the importance of alcohol education in schools. It makes a number of recommendations on the most effective methods of interventions as well as gives some guiding principles and messages to all those working with young people in relation to alcohol. Go to website for report

Drug and Alcohol Findings Individual And Contextual Effects Of School Adjustment On Adolescent Alcohol Use. (Summary Only) (2009)

Of particular interest to teachers, this paper looks at the links between a general school ethos, a pupil’s engagement with school life, and its positive correlations with their level of alcohol use. We link to a D&A Findings summary here- the full text is available only on payment. Go to website for report

Joseph Rowntree Foundation Alcohol prevention programmes (2009)

A recently released literature review conducted by Professor Richard Velleman for JRF, it examines the various existing programmes, both formal and informal, aimed at reducing or preventing alcohol use among young people. Based on this evidence it makes recommendations for a how a universal prevention programme might be delivered. It is accompanied on the site by another review looking at how young people develop their attitudes towards alcohol, and other very interesting papers. Go to website for report

Cochrane Review Primary prevention for alcohol misuse in young people(2007)

A systematic review of a number of alcohol prevention programmes, this review is cautious in its evaluation of the evidence, but has some interesting comments about particular interventions, including the Strengthening Families Programme from the US. Go to website for report

We'd like to thank Andrew Brown from the Drug Education Forum for his help in putting this list together.

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Booze is the answer. I can't remember the question.

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