Learn why rock bottom is an important step in the road to recovery -- reaching a point that they are ready to change.
Readiness to Change
The longer that people remain addicted the more harm will be done to their life. Substance abuse not only damages their physical and mental health, but it also robs them of their possessions, relationships, and self-respect. Some addicts end up losing a lot before they reach a point where they are willing to change the behavior. Other people will have a high rock bottom and lose relatively little. As soon as the individual has reached a point that they are ready to change then this will be their rock bottom.
What is Rock Bottom?
Rock bottom refers to the very lowest level. This word is often used to describe a point in the life of an addict when they are finally willing to seek help. Things are now so bad for them that it is impossible to deny their problem anymore. Hitting rock bottom may result due to a particular event, or it can be a slow decline over time. This is a subjective term because some addicts will be willing to suffer a lot more in life than others. A rock bottom could involve:
* The loss of a job
* A relationship breakup
* Remorse over particularly bad behavior while intoxicated
* Legal problems
* Loss of a friendship
* Deterioration to health or warnings from a doctor
* Loss of accommodation
* Mental breakdown
* Financial problems
* Social embarrassment
*Many addicts describe hitting rock bottom as “finally becoming sick and tired of feeling sick and tired.
Rock Bottom Myths
A common idea is that addicts need to lose everything before they will be willing to get help. This myth about the rock bottom is not only wrong, but it can also be an unhelpful way of looking at things. There is no need for people to lose everything. It will always be up to them to decide when they’ve had enough. A common metaphor is of somebody descending in an elevator. The journey is going downwards, but it is up to the passenger to decide about where they get off. As soon as people decide that they’ve had enough then this will be their personal rock bottom. Some individuals have high rock bottoms where their addiction doesn’t get to damage their life too much before they seek help. In other cases people will take the elevator all the way to the bottom and die as a result of their addiction.
There is no advantage in having a low rock bottom. It just means that the individual will have further to climb back from. Some addicts worry that by not falling low enough it will mean that they are more at risk of relapse in the future. This type of logic is faulty because plenty of people make a success in recovery even though they didn’t fall too low in their addiction. The real danger in this idea of the necessity of a low rock bottom is that it may lead the addict to a place that they cannot get back from.
Rock Bottom and Denial
Those who are addicted to alcohol or drugs are prevented from hitting rock bottom because of denial. This is a defense mechanism that people use when there is something that they do not want to face. All humans will have used denial to some degree or another, but in addicts it can be particularly strong. Even though their life is falling apart because of their addiction they will be able blame this on other factors. They may even feel that the substance abuse is the only thing in their life that is dependable. Until the addict is able to see that it is the substance abuse that is the real problem they will be trapped. Rock bottom is when they finally see past this denial.
Feeling Comfortable in Addiction
The life of an addict involves a lot of suffering, but it is also predictable and known. The idea of leaving the comfort of their addiction can be an unattractive proposition because it involves taking a step into the unknown. Denial can help the addict hide from much of the suffering caused by addiction, and they will likely view recovery as just depriving themselves of the one thing in life that provides them with comfort. Hitting rock bottom means that they can see through the false illusion of comfort in addiction to see what is really going on.
Raising Rock Bottom
The less that an individual needs to lose before escaping addiction the better it will be for them. Raising rock bottom is all about bringing this point of change to them now. There is likely to already be enough evidence of the need for the individual to quit their self-destructive behavior. They just need to be made more aware of this.
One reason why an addict will be able to hide behind denial is that they can be protected from a lot of the consequences of their addiction – this is sometimes referred to as enabling the addict. Family members, friends, and work colleagues will make allowances for them and cover up for a lot of their misbehavior. The way to raise the rock bottom then is to no longer give them any protection from the consequences of their actions. As the addict is increasingly faced with the negative impact of their behavior it gets harder for them to hide from their problem.
The addict can raise their own rock bottom by considering all the things in their life that they are missing out on. It can also help to find out more about where their addiction is going to take them. The fear of losing everything may be enough to prevent them losing everything.