I want to honor National Suicide Prevention Week September 8-14th here because sometimes addicts and alcoholics, both using and in recovery, start to consider suicide as an option when they feel trapped by feelings or circumstances. In recovery, we’re taught share these feelings with someone in our support network to diffuse the power, gain clarity and seek practical solutions to whatever ails us. Talking about what we are going through is always the first step toward change. To hole up in isolation with suicidal thoughts, emotional despair, or hopelessness is dangerous. It’s so easy to lose perspective and fall deeper into the darkness. The disease of addiction gets a lot of power and leverage from emotional pain and benefits from secrets and isolation because if an addict is in pain long enough, drugs and alcohol will begin to appear as the only logical solution for relief. I have known a number of people who have committed suicide while on a relapse. In almost every case, they ask for help getting clean again but always give up after a few days and begin to isolate. I don’t know what anyone is thinking when the kill themselves but I think it’s fair to guess that whatever they are thinking or feeling all they want is for it to stop. This is why it is so important to make time to listen to anyone who is asking for help and to extend ourselves by checking up on them and making sure they are connecting with others. Whether you are on a relapse, have never stopped getting high, are suffering from depression or have experienced a terrible event – no matter what you think or believe right now, don’t give up. If you have anyone to talk to, make the call or stop by and let someone know what is going on. Call a suicide hotline. Get help for yourself. Do not trick yourself into believing that there is no help because you have no money. The suicide hotline will have resources for therapists or support groups. You can go into any 12-step group and raise your hand and say how you feel or grab someone when the meeting breaks up and tell them you need help. If you feel you are a danger to yourself go to a hospital and tell them. Go and talk to your spiritual advisor if you have religious beliefs. People will listen. The first action is to break the cycle of obsessional thinking. This is done by sharing your thoughts and feelings with another human being and asking for help. Do not stay alone with your pain. A friend once told me that however big and dark the feelings feel in the moment, this is like one groove in a record album that the needle is stuck on but that there is so much of the album left to hear. Remember – these feelings are not permanent no matter what your thoughts are telling you.