The idea that someone has to hit rock bottom before they are willing to accept help or able to follow through with treatment is one of the most persistent and dangerous myths about addiction. There are a number of problems with this myth.

“Rock bottom” is arbitrary.

The first issue with the rock bottom idea is that there is no clear definition for “rock bottom.” One person may imagine rock bottom as living on the street while others might imagine rock bottom as their spouse leaving with the kids or even passing out on the bathroom floor of a dive bar. We’re all willing to accept different levels of pain and discomfort in our lives, and addiction complicates that picture even more. You can begin recovery whenever you’re willing to take an honest look at your life and admit that substance use is causing more pain than happiness.

Addiction is progressive.

There are serious costs to passively waiting for rock bottom to arrive. For one, addiction is progressive—and the longer you live with it, the harder it will be to recover. Your tolerance grows, your habits get more deeply ingrained, and the structure of your brain even changes. It will never be easier than it is right now to start recovery. Also, substance use increases your risk of accidents and serious health issues. The longer you wait, the more you are exposed to these risks; some of which are not reversible.

Many people never reach rock bottom.

In 2017, more than 70,000 people died of drug overdoses and more than 88,000 people died of alcohol-related causes. Some of those people and their families may have been waiting for a rock-bottom moment that never arrived. Others may have had a rock-bottom moment, or even several, but it wasn’t enough to keep them in recovery.

Most people who succeed in recovery started out ambivalent.

The appeal of the rock bottom idea is that someone with a substance use issue can suddenly find clarity and purpose. However, people with substance use disorders rarely hit a turning point at which they become fully committed to recovery. Instead, they may feel like their lives are heading in the wrong direction, they may acquiesce to their families’ pleas to get help, or they may enter treatment as part of a deal with a drug court. Few people are sure they want to enter treatment at first. A good program will help you find your own motivation for getting sober and help you build systems for maintaining recovery even when your motivation lags.

At Fort, we offer a safe, nurturing, and healing space for men and women to find recovery from the multifaceted disease of addiction. Our team believes in inspiring each client to face their challenges, discover the root of their problems, and reclaim their lives. If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, call us today at 844.332.1807 or contact us through our admissions page.


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