You Asked, We Answered

Addiction Questions

I’ve had trauma and deep depression for years. These bouts create serious drinking and pain pill abuse. Where can I find resources to deal with my depression so I can finally quit drinking and taking pills?

This is a common question we receive in this age of “depression awareness” and the cultural belief that unhappiness in general leads to addiction. The Freedom Model addresses this issue and answers your questions about this learned connection between depression and substance use. Take a look:

Unhappiness Isn’t a Cause of Heavy Substance Use

With all our talk about heavy substance use being driven by the pursuit of happiness, there is a common misconception people have about The Freedom Model. They think that we’re saying depression or unhappiness causes heavy substance use. This is the most common learned connection. The next logical misconception is that the solution to heavy substance use is to get over unhappiness or depression first and then sobriety will follow. Let’s be clear and firm about this: we do not believe nor mean to teach that heavy substance use is caused by unhappiness or relieved by happiness.

You can be genuinely unhappy or depressed and not feel the slightest need or desire for heavy substance use. In fact, 80% of people with mood disorders do not have substance use problems, and the minority who have both substance use problems and mood disorders, such as depression or bipolar, have no special difficulty getting over their substance use problems. Their rates of “recovery” are just as high as those who don’t have these problems (Lopez-Quintero et al., 2011). Take a moment to let that sink in because it’s contrary to our cultural belief.

No matter what your current level of happiness is—whether you’re depressed or living in constant bliss—you will prefer heavy substance use if you see it as your best path to happiness, and you will not prefer it if you don’t see it as your best path to happiness.

The solution to your substance use problems is not to get happier first but to simply cease to believe that heavy substance use is your best available option for acquiring happiness. Again, trying to resolve unhappiness first is indirect and keeps heavy troubling use alive as a potential option for when unhappiness hits again. That learned connection is dangerous to keep fixed. Carefully exploring the three options with a focus on benefits is the most direct path to developing a lasting preference change that could eradicate any further attraction to troubling heavy substance use patterns. Furthermore, when you no longer feel dependent on heavy substance use and stop paying all its costs, you regain so many resources that can now be devoted to building your happiest life possible.”



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*In cases of physical withdrawal, medical treatment and/or medical detoxification services may be necessary. Consult with a licensed physician..
The Freedom Model and the Freedom Model Retreats, divisions of Baldwin Research Institute, Inc., do not provide any services that require certification by New York State’s Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services. The information in this book is designed to provide information and education on the subject of substance use and human behavior. This book is not meant to be used, nor should it be used, to diagnose or treat any associated condition. The publisher and authors are not responsible for any consequences from any treatment, action, application, or preparation, by any person or to any person reading or following the information in this book. The publisher has put forth its best efforts in preparing and arranging this. The information provided herein is provided “as is” and you read and use this information at your own risk. The publisher and authors disclaim any liabilities for any loss of profit or commercial or personal damages resulting from the use of the information contained in this book.


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