It’s a popular theme for movies and books dealing with addiction and substance abuse: the moment of sudden clarity which leads to the decision to leave drugs and alcohol behind. Often in films we see the protagonist struggle with a substance abuse disorder for much of the film before a sudden and dramatic moment catalyzes their decision to free themselves of their vices and never look back.
While this kind of onset for recovery and sober living does definitely happen, in reality, addiction is nothing like the way they portray it in the movies: It is a hard, long-fought battle, and requires constant diligence to avoid falling off the path. And though many do credit “hitting rock bottom” as their reason for finding sobriety, there is a misguided and dangerous perception that ‘rock bottom’ has to be the first step in recovery.
Defining Rock Bottom
One major problem with waiting for ‘rock bottom’ is that there is no set limit: what may be enough to break through to one person is inconsequential to another. For some, experiencing a bad high or a particularly bad hangover is enough to end their abuse of drugs or alcohol. Others can barely survive overdoses, aggregate miles of legal issues, and suffer fallouts in their personal and professional lives and still never consider getting help for their addiction. This enigmatic state can lead to the false belief that one’s drug abuse or alcohol dependency is not a problem.
Waiting For Rock Bottom Enables Functioning Substance Abusers
Rock Bottom Does Not Automatically Lead to Recovery
So you’ve hit rock bottom through whatever means it took: now what? Hollywood films and fantastical books often lead people to believe recovering from a substance abuse disorder is as simple as deciding to stop. They often glaze over the more difficult steps of recovery in favor of the bright, happy, hopeful ending. Or, if they do portray the detoxification and withdrawal process, it’s in the expanse of about five minutes with the actor trembling a bit and sweating before appearing to be fine in the next scene. This is false image of addiction recovery.
Though will and determination are definitely important factors in recovery, drawing from them means nothing without the skills and knowledge to follow through. This is why people who choose to forgo rehabilitation and quit on their own often relapse; without the skills to recognize and combat triggers, it only talks a split second for relapse to happen. Recovering and maintaining sobriety is hard work and may come with a few hiccups and bumps in the road: that’s okay. Remaining focused and determined and having the proper support and treatment will help you see yourself through to the end.
Waiting for Rock Bottom Prolongs Use, Recovery Becomes More Difficult
Sometimes Rock Bottom Doesn’t Precede the End
The threat of overdose is real and constant. Even infrequent use can lead to overdose, and relapsing after any period of abstinence only increases the odds of suffering an overdose. It should go without saying that dying from overdose isn’t rock bottom; it’s the end that there’s no coming back from.
Don’t force your loved ones to bury you. Get the help you need today.
About the Author
Alexandrea Holder is a South Florida native working toward double Master’s degrees in Psychology and English. She finds the psychological aspects of addiction and mental illness fascinating, as both are prevalent in her family’s history. Through her work with Harbor Village Rehabilitation in Miami, FL she has garnered valuable insight and experiences which she applies to her work and personal life. When not researching and spreading addiction awareness, Alexandrea enjoys sparring, artistic pursuits, and admiring puppies online.