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 the treatment they need and cause unnecessary suffering and damage to families that are involved in this struggle.

The Myth of Reaching Rock Bottom

The concept of hitting “rock bottom” came about because of the belief that addicts must reach their lowest point as a result of their addiction before they are willing to seek treatment. The myth first 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.

A Dangerous Way of Thinking

Unfortunately, this misconception is not only believed by many addicts but also their family and friends. The problem with this type of thinking is it can lead to other issues for addicts and their close friends and family. Addicts could develop increased risks for health problems, including but not limited to:

  • Heart Disease
  • Heart Attack
  • Stroke
  • Organ Damage
  • Hepatitis, HIV, and other Blood/Bodily Fluid Transmitted Diseases
  • Respiratory Problems
  • Damage to the Reproductive System
  • Weight Loss and Malnutrition

For those close to addicts, allowing them to hit “rock bottom” could cause damage to interpersonal relationships, like between an addicted parent and children. In addition, it could result in the loss of:

  • Employment
  • Housing
  • Financial Savings

Furthermore, addicts could run up an excessive amount of debt. In some cases, they may even turn to “loan sharks” to help finance their addiction. Some addicts who are left to hit “rock bottom” could even end up turning to prostitution or engaging in other criminal activities.

When Is the Right Time to Seek Treatment?

man at the bottom of a mountainRather than waiting to hit “rock bottom” before seeking rehab, there is a better approach for getting help for addiction. At any point during the addiction, if you know you need help and truly desire it, don’t wait. You don’t have to be a full-blown addict to seek treatment. For friends and families, if you notice your loved ones are gradually becoming addicted to drugs or alcohol, you, too, don’t have to wait for them to hit “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?

man in cave looking at mountainsThere are different things you can do to encourage an addict to get the help they need. For instance, you could arrange an intervention with help from a qualified drug and alcohol treatment professional.

Another option is spelling out the consequences of their actions. For example, you could point out how their addiction could affect them in the long run, such as being fired from jobs and being evicted from their apartments, potentially leaving them with nothing.

Sometimes, simply the thought of losing finances, housing, or employment is enough to motivate addicts to seek treatment. For families with children, one of the parents could let the other know that if he or she continues their drug use, they could ultimately lose their parental rights and access to the children.

According to research the most common motivating factors that help people to embrace the need for change:

  • 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.

As you can see, there are different approaches to encourage and motivate an addict long before they hit “rock bottom.” Please keep in mind, each person and addict is different, so what will motivate each one to seek treatment can and does vary.

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 motivate a loved one to seek the help they need:

  • 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. 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.

If you want help or are a friend or loved one of an addict and are looking for a way to help them avoid hitting “rock bottom,” please feel free to contact us at (973) 298-5776 to learn why we’re the leading rehab for addiction throughout New Jersey and how we can help.

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