The phrase “hitting rock bottom” has its origin in digging a hole so deep that it hits bedrock and can go no lower. There is a popular belief that addiction treatment will not be successful until the person struggling with addiction has lost everything and has no more resources to lean on for food, shelter, or finances.
This idea can discourage people from seeking treatment and cause unnecessary suffering and damage to families that are involved in this struggle.
The Myth of Reaching Rock Bottom
The myth of rock bottom as the best starting point for addiction treatment began with early therapy programs. With limited scientific research available, these well-intentioned programs were limited in evidence-based methods. They had the greatest success with the patients who were highly motivated—often because they had lost everything.
These dramatic examples are further popularized by reality television shows which feature compelling tales of addicts who have reached their lowest personal point. While these examples of desperation and despair make the best television, they don’t feature the stories of those who succeed in finding healing before reaching the bottom.
When Is the Right Time to Seek Treatment?
Rather than watching for signs of hitting rock bottom, we should seek treatment for ourselves or our loved ones as soon as we realize we are digging an inescapable hole. The more resources, career opportunities, and loving relationships we allow to crumble away as we fall into the pit of addiction, the longer and more difficult the climb back out will be.
Current research shows that the shift in approach to early intervention at the first sign of a substance abuse problem can heal addiction without the broad range of damage associated with delaying treatment. Modern addiction treatment centers provide early intervention that is based on building a strong motivation to change.
What Motivates People to Recover from Addiction?
While we are all unique in how we face the challenge of addiction, research has identified the most common motivating factors that help people to embrace the need for change:1
- Experiencing feelings of depression or anxiety.
- Critical life changes such as loss of a job or expecting a child.
- Therapy or self-evaluation that provides visibility into the growing impact of substance abuse.
- Witnessing or recognizing that the addiction has caused harm to someone else.
- Continued support and empathy from friends and family who encourage treatment.
How to Be a Motivating Factor
In order to support our loved ones at these critical decision points, providing both a reality check and a practical source of encouragement can help prevent friends and family from hitting rock bottom in addiction. Here’s how you can help:
- Raise the subject and discuss treatment options; be supportive of any discussion involving recovery.
- Set consistent limits and boundaries while allowing your loved one to resolve conflicts and experience the consequences of drug or alcohol use.
- Provide transportation or other practical help to support a decision to enter a treatment program.
- Encourage an immediate return to treatment if a relapse occurs.
Embracing Early Intervention and Recovery
Motivation-building methods are associated with improved participation in treatment and better outcomes.1 For the most innovative and supportive outpatient addiction treatment in New Jersey, reach out to us at BlueCrest Recovery Center. Our caring team focuses on healing from both a clinical and a spiritual perspective, providing the support and motivation you or your loved one needs to climb back up to freedom and open possibilities.