Myth #2: “They need to hit rock bottom to get help”
Truth: This is reckless and could be deadly for some. Early intervention and treatment is always preferred for this (and most) chronic and progressive illness.
My heart hurts when I hear this. I can’t fathom intentionally allowing someone to hit rock bottom or even promoting that they should go and endure more pain before attempting to get well. I hear this a lot when we see a client who doesn’t seem particularly invested in their treatment or recovery program – folks around them may say they haven’t “hurt enough yet”.
Where do I start?
I believe there is a big difference between allowing people to face natural consequences and encouraging their suffering. Identified patients can experience natural consequences through healthy boundaries, clear support for engaging in treatment, and LOVE. You don’t have to remove love and support to support someone in active addiction in a healthy way. You do have to change the way you have likely been groomed to show love.
Pursuing avenues to extinguish the compatibility between access to the norm and their continued use of substances is the goal. What does that mean? If I can continue to use in a way that’s harmful and also access all resources and relationships that I care about, there is no disease interruption – in fact, it’s being supported. Think of suffocating the disease process by interrupting the status quo. When my continued use results in the things I care about and also crave going away, I’m faced with a natural consequence. It’s really painful for families, because the intervention that they likely need to use to promote treatment engagement goes against the natural biology to protect loved ones from discomfort or pain. They will experience some level of discomfort and they will need to for interruption to the disease.
Rock bottom – what a dark term. A perfectly accurate and grim description of what some experience at the peak of addiction.
I understand the saying that “everyone’s bottom looks different” and that is usually used to describe the moment right before initiating recovery.
For all of the folks out there who did everything they could and their loved one still hit “rock bottom” or have passed as result of their disease – this post isn’t about that and doesn’t apply at all to your situation. Sometimes we do absolutely everything right and everything we know how and we are simply not omnipotent. This post is in reference to intentionally promoting folks hitting rock bottom as a qualifier for entering treatment or the rooms as if you have to earn your spot..