There’s a common myth among people with substance use disorders and their families that someone has to hit rock bottom before he or she can recover. The idea is that someone can only change if she wants to change and no amount discussion, rational argument, or imploring will convince someone to get help if she’s not ready. The only way for someone with a substance use disorder to see the the light, according to the rock bottom myth, is that life gets so bad that recovery is the only possible option. This is a dangerous and misguided notion for several reasons.
Rock bottom may never come.
The biggest danger in the rock bottom myth is that for many people with substance use disorders, rock bottom means death. The number of fatal overdoses has continued to increase over the past twenty years and the figure exceeded 70,000 in 2017. Addiction is a progressive disease and many people who have it feel no control at all over their lives. If someone can face serious consequences as a result of addiction and still not want help, more consequences are not likely to matter. Waiting for a rock-bottom moment to cause an epiphany might be a huge mistake.
Family support is crucial for recovery.
The rock bottom myth may also change the way families relate to a loved one with a substance use disorder, because a natural corollary is tough love, which has been repeatedly proven not to work. This is basically the idea that since family members can’t reason with an addicted loved one, the only way to help is facilitate total collapse. In reality, support and encouragement are much better, so long as that support and encouragement don’t enable addictive behavior.
The longer addiction persists the harder it is to beat.
Since addiction is progressive, it will never be easier to beat later. Right now is the easiest it will ever be. Some hope that if things get bad enough it will motivate them to seek help and persist in recovery, but as noted above, that may never happen. Addiction is a deeply ingrained habit and the longer you wait, the more deeply ingrained it gets. Even if you don’t quite feel ready, getting help sooner will make things easier in the long run.
People do recover before they’re ready.
The crux of the rock bottom myth is that no one can recover from addiction unless he’s ready, but that doesn’t appear to be true. Take drug courts, for example. Non-violent drug offenders have the option of going to treatment in exchange for a suspended or reduced sentence. Completion rates are high and recidivism rates are low. The National Association of Drug Court Professionals estimates that only 16 percent of drug court participants offend again within the first year of completing treatment. Others who aren’t quite sure whether they want to get sober often find their motivation once they enter treatment. In fact, most people enter treatment feeling ambivalent but leave feeling glad they took the chance.
Pinnacle Recovery specializes in inpatient rehabilitation, trauma recovery, AA programs and AA alternatives, experiential therapy, dual diagnosis, family therapy, co-occurring and dual diagnosis addictions. We also offer a wide range of sober living and intensive outpatient treatment programs. Call 1-866-301-0573 today for more information.