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Original Research

Predictors of Suicidal Ideation During Residential Substance Use Treatment

Jennifer D. Ellis, PhDa; Jill A. Rabinowitz, PhDb; Justin C. Strickland, PhDa; David Wolinsky, MDa; and Andrew S. Huhn, PhD, MBAa,*

Published: May 22, 2023


Background: Individuals with substance use disorders (SUDs) and co-occurring chronic health and/or psychiatric conditions face unique challenges in treatment and may be at a greater risk for suicidal ideation relative to persons with SUD alone.

Methods: In a sample of individuals entering residential SUD treatment in 2019 and 2020 (N = 10,242), we tested adjusted and unadjusted associations between suicidal ideation and (1) psychiatric symptoms and (2) chronic health conditions at treatment intake and during treatment using logistic and generalized logistic models.

Results: Over a third of the sample endorsed suicidal ideation at intake, though the prevalence of suicidal ideation decreased during treatment. In both adjusted and unadjusted models, individuals who reported past-month self-harm, those who reported a lifetime suicide attempt, and individuals who screened positive for co-occurring anxiety, depression, and/or posttraumatic stress disorder were at elevated risk of endorsing suicidal ideation at intake and during treatment (P values < .001). In unadjusted models, chronic pain (odds ratio [OR] = 1.51, P < .001) and hepatitis C virus (OR = 1.65, P < .001) were associated with an elevated risk for suicidal ideation at intake, and chronic pain was associated with elevated risk for suicidal ideation during treatment (OR = 1.59, P < .001).

Conclusions: Increasing accessibility to integrated treatments (ie, those that address psychiatric and chronic health conditions) for patients experiencing suicidal ideation may be beneficial in residential SUD treatment settings. Developing predictive models to identify those most at risk of suicidal ideation in real time remains a relevant direction for future work.

Volume: 84

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