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Freedom From Addiction is one of Canada's most innovative recovery homes, best known for providing individualized and holistic treatment approaches to guide clients towards a life of healing and sobriety. We have a team of qualified healthcare professionals and addiction specialists who combine their knowledge and expertise to address co-occurring cases of depression and addiction.

How Depression Affects Addiction

The Government of Canada defines depression (major depressive disorder or clinical depression) as a period of time that lasts two or more months and negatively affects an individual’s emotions, thought patterns, and behaviour. While it's normal to feel sad or lonely every once in a while, depression can last for weeks, months or even years. It can reach the point where it interferes with everyday routine and dramatically affects a person’s overall quality of life. 

Depression and addiction have a strong connection. People who struggle with depression often turn to alcohol and illicit substances as a coping mechanism or self-medication to soothe themselves emotionally or escape their bleak realities. Unfortunately, this does more harm than good, worsening symptoms of depression and developing a substance use disorder as a concurrent disorder.

According to a study published in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, individuals diagnosed with a mental illness, such as depression, are twice as likely to have a substance use problem than the general population. In Canada, for instance, at least 20% of people with a mental illness have a co-occurring substance use problem. Unfortunately, only about half of Canadians experiencing a major depressive episode receive potentially adequate care.

Types of Depression

Depression can come in various forms. The different types of depression are:

  • Chronic depression (dysthymia)
  • Atypical depression
  • Postpartum depression
  • Bipolar depression (manic depression)
  • Seasonal depression or seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
  • Psychotic depression
  • Treatment-resistant depression

Symptoms of Depression

Based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), an individual should be experiencing five or more symptoms every day for at least two weeks to make a definitive diagnosis for clinical depression. At least one of the most common symptoms should either be a depressed mood or a loss of sense of interest or pleasure. Other symptoms include:

  • Low, depressed mood that persists every day
  • Low or total loss of pleasure or interest in daily activities that are usually enjoyed
  • Nagging feelings of worthlessness, self-hatred, guilt, or shame
  • Irregular sleeping patterns (insomnia or sleeping too much)
  • Recurring suicidal ideation and self-harm
  • Lethargy or lack of physical energy to even go out of the room to perform self-care tasks like eating or showering
  • Difficulty to concentrate and memory problems

To rule out other conditions, the symptoms must not be caused by any pre-existing health condition or as an effect of substance use. 

The Importance of Treating Depression During Addiction Recovery

Alcohol misuse and drug abuse are unhealthy coping mechanisms that hinder one's progress for successful depression treatment. Without proper intervention, individuals may find themselves in the dark, experiencing the vicious cycle of depression and addiction. 

Research suggests that substances like alcohol have depressant properties. Initially, they produce stimulating and numbing effects but eventually intensifies feelings of sadness, lethargy, and suicidal ideation. 

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, mental illnesses, such as depression, share overlapping risk factors with addiction. These include:

  • Genetic vulnerabilities
  • Epigenetic influences
  • Issues with similar regions of the brain
  • Environmental influences (i.e. early exposure to stress, trauma, and negative childhood experiences)

More importantly, it's long been established that substance use can contribute to the development of mental health disorders and vice-versa. Experts have also found that depressive thoughts are linked with substance use cravings. This emphasizes the importance of a concurrent disorder treatment plan that effectively addresses depression and addiction and reduces the risk of relapse during recovery.

How Depression Is Treated

Everybody has a unique experience that has led to depression and addiction and therefore requires different treatment approaches. At Freedom From Addiction, we develop personalized treatment plans for each client. We are also a firm believer in getting to the root cause of addiction versus doing a drug detox as a standalone solution.

At Freedom From Addiction, our co-occurring mental health and addiction treatment includes:

Medical Detox

For individuals struggling with depression and substance use disorder, quitting cold turkey or doing a detox at home may not be the safest solutions. Withdrawal symptoms can range from moderate to extreme physical and emotional conditions, such as restlessness, aggression, inability to get sufficient sleep, and intense episodes of mental health disorders.

Freedom From Addiction offers safe, effective, and medically guided drug detox programs that help the body flush out alcohol or drugs while providing necessary support for the patient to manage the withdrawal symptoms as comfortably as possible.

Drug Addiction Treatment

We offer different types of drug addiction treatment programs tailored to fit the client's personal needs. We have residential treatment, in-house or hospitalization, outpatient programs, and behavioural counselling. We also have an impressive team of medical professionals and addiction specialists who are qualified to treat all types of addiction including illicit substances like:

Alcohol Addiction Treatment 

Our concurrent disorders treatment programs can also be customized to fit clients suffering from depression and alcohol dependence or alcoholism. Freedom From Addiction’s alcohol addiction treatment services involve:

  • Helping families and friends stage interventions
  • Providing detoxification and psychosocial support designed to address drinking problems
  • Conducting individual and group counselling sessions for maintaining abstinence and relapse prevention
  • Giving family therapy and emotional support for loved ones who may have been hurt or want to be involved in the healing process.

Mental Health Treatment

The core of our co-occurring treatment here at Freedom From Addiction is our mental health treatment program. Aside from identifying the risk factors, past trauma, and potential triggers that may have resulted in the clients' depression and substance use disorder, this aspect is also designed to teach them how to unlearn negative thinking patterns, emotions, and unhealthy coping mechanisms by replacing them with positive behaviours.

Our mental health treatment involves integrative therapies, such as: 

Our Integrated Depression and Addiction Treatment Approach

Concurrent disorder treatment is a relatively new concept in the world of addiction recovery. To this day, not all drug rehabs implement a holistic approach for substance use and concurrent disorders. Many people are asked to wait until they complete their addiction treatment program before they are referred to a separate health professional for their depression treatment, risking the possibility of relapse, suicide, or another depressive episode. 

Our team at Freedom From Addiction has done our own research and extensive review of the scientific literature regarding addiction and co-occurring disorders. We recognize the importance of treating both chronic illnesses simultaneously with individualized concurrent disorder treatment plans and continuing care programs.

Let's start the path to recovery! To learn how we can make a difference in the life of a loved one who has been diagnosed with depression and addiction, contact Freedom From Addiction today!

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