You Don’t Have to Hit Rock Bottom
‘I still have a job. It’s not that bad.’
‘My family hasn’t left me yet.’
‘I am not sleeping on a park bench, what’s the problem?’
There’s a prevailing presumption that a substance abuse problem isn’t something that needs to be addressed until things get dire—until all resources are depleted and life has become completely unmanageable. It’s true that in the early days of addiction recovery, it was only these ‘last gaspers’ who seemed entirely ready to let go of the horrific patterns of deterioration that had taken place in their lives. They were the ones desperate enough to seek help, to become teachable. They had to experience ‘rock bottom’ to find the road of recovery. It didn’t take too long until awareness and education about the possibilities of recovery aided in breaking down stigma to such an extent that individuals were able to notice signs of addiction and reach out for help much sooner than this—literally being spared the later stages of destruction, death and degradation caused by the disease of addiction. Nowadays, it is more the norm to see individuals seeking help sooner—often millenials in their twenties, or baby boomers in the earlier stages of the phases of addiction—long before things become dire.
However, it is still a common myth that the addict/alcoholic will not seek help until they hit rock bottom. It is still a way to justify behaviour—to note that things are not as bad as all that….yet. While it is true that it often ‘has to get worse before it gets better,’ it is possible to mitigate the severity of the damage. It is possible and even favourable to intervene long before an individual loses supportive relationships, financial security, employment, housing or physical/mental health.
This is a good thing.
There are now recovery models that seek out early intervention. Behaviours amongst professionals and family members are changing—and while tough love is still helpful, we do not have to wait until the sufferer ‘hits bottom’. There are ways to intervene before all score cards read zero. We can bring the bottom up to meet the individual long before there is a complete loss of resources. Now, this is not to say that there is or can be a complete eradication of the downhill spiral that addiction takes. It is just to say that the wait time for intervention does not have to be put on hold until things are catastrophic.
With a combination of hope and concrete action, things can turn around sooner.
There are many things that can be done to mitigate the damage caused by addictive disorders and have a positive influence on a person suffering under the weight of an addiction. For example, one can encourage healthy behaviours and use positive reinforcement to initiate change or be willing to discuss treatment options earlier on. One can put in place reasonable boundaries that creates enough of a distress level to initiate motivation, or to help an individual reflect on the trajectory of their addiction in a safe environment. There is a difference between looking at negative trajectories and shaming. There are ways of approaching the addict that can be firm but loving and encouraging.
A person’s bottom can be raised by encouraging healthy behaviors.
A friend or family member can:
- Practice consistency when setting limits and boundaries.
- Discuss and support treatment options.
- Provide transportation to doctor or therapy appointments
- Try not to shame or be controlling
- Be compassionate
- Be prepared to intervene when there is a crucial life moment/crisis that causes reflection
- Have a plan for intervention
- Be encouraging
- Be loving
- Be hopeful
- Reinforce and encourage that the bottom could be now, as opposed to later, when there is further trouble
Motivation is a key agent of change. If enough motivation is present, the recovery process has a higher chance of success. We can help influence motivation by setting healthy boundaries, interjecting a recovery plan during key moments of crisis. The goal is to increase internal motivation to change. It is central to change and is fuelled by hope. Effective treatment can be initiated at any time and can include an awareness that we do not have to lose everything to get the help that we need.
Your successful recovery begins with a team of professionals that support a renewed quality of life. We know that taking the first step towards recovery is often the most difficult, but we are confident that Urban Recovery can be a catalyst on your path toward wellness. You are more than your addiction. You are more than everything you have done up to this moment. Because today, you are ready for recovery.