The question of whether or not a person suffering from a drug or alcohol addiction needs to hit rock bottom before seeking treatment is not new. The simple answer to the question is no. Hitting rock bottom is not necessary before seeking help for a substance use disorder. Whenever you are ready for help, it is available.
What Does Rock Bottom Mean?
Hitting rock bottom has been used in reference to addiction for at least 50 years now. The phrase was coined in the early days of addiction treatment when there was a limited amount of scientific research. At that time, many people believed that unless an individual lost everything, they would not be motivated to get treatment.
The problem with a “rock bottom” mindset is that hitting rock bottom means different things to different people. Drug and alcohol addiction changes a person’s life in many ways. In active addiction, people do and say things they would never do or say when sober. For example, someone that would never steal is stealing to feed their addiction. Have they hit rock bottom? There is no way to tell. It may be rock bottom for one person but not for another. And the definition of rock bottom can change for an individual, too. Maybe someone defines rock bottom as missing deadlines at work, for example; but then, after they start missing deadlines, they change their definition of rock bottom to losing their job. In other words, it’s easy to lower the bar to avoid getting treatment.
A Dangerous Belief
When people are addicted to alcohol or drugs, they often feel that their situation is hopeless. They may continue in their addiction, hoping that the moment will come when something will happen that inspires them to get sober. Unfortunately, it does not usually work that way. The truth is, things could always be worse. Believing in the myth of hitting rock bottom stops many people who suffer from addiction from seeking the help they need.
Is Your Alcohol or Drug Use a Cause for Concern?
Ask yourself the questions below to help determine whether your own or a loved one’s drug or alcohol use is a cause for concern. The answers you give will determine if addiction treatment is needed. If the answer to any question is yes, then your drug or alcohol use could be a problem.
- Has anyone said they are worried about your use of drugs or alcohol?
- Have you tried to reduce your use of drugs or alcohol but could not?
- Do you often use more drugs or drink more alcohol than you planned to?
- Have you been unable to think of anything other than drugs or alcohol because you wanted them so badly?
- Is your substance use or being sick from your substance stopped you from meeting responsibilities with school, work, or family?
- Do you no longer take part in activities you once enjoyed to spend time drinking or using drugs?
- Do you need to increase the number of drugs or amount of alcohol to feel the same effects as you used to?
- Have you used substances in dangerous situations, such as while operating machinery or driving?
- Regardless of the physical or mental health problem they cause, do you continue to use drugs or drink alcohol?
- Regardless of any relationship problems they cause, do you continue to use drugs or alcohol?
- Have you stopped using a substance and experienced withdrawal symptoms?
- To avoid withdrawal, have you used a substance?
When Is the Right Time to Seek Treatment?
The right time to seek treatment for addiction is as soon as possible. If you need and want help, do not wait. You do not need to hit rock bottom to get help. At English Mountain Recovery, our professional staff is ready to help. Located in the Smoky Mountains of eastern Tennessee, we will provide the skills and tools you need to attain lasting sobriety.
About the Author:
Terry Hurley is a retired educational professional and freelance writer with more than fifty years of experience. A former reading specialist and learning center director, Terry loved her years working with children in the educational field. She has written extensively for print and online publications specializing in education and health issues. For the last six years, her writing focus has been on addiction and mental health issues.