rock bottom

Rock Bottom— What It Looks Like

Does rock bottom look the same for everyone experiencing the challenges of addiction and mental health issues? Can we define rock bottom objectively to know definitively when a person needs an intervention or treatment? Do we need to get to our lowest point to finally make a change?

These questions regarding rock bottom can be a sticking point for many people unsure of how to help themselves or their loved ones struggling with challenging issues. We might believe some common myths about the idea of rock bottom being a prerequisite for making changes or that it needs to be the same for everyone. The truth is that no one’s definition of rock bottom will look the same as everyone else’s. 

The Myths of Rock Bottom

The idea of hitting rock bottom has several myths within recovery, such as:

  • “Rock Bottom Means the Same Thing for Everyone”
    • This myth assumes that everyone needs to suffer significant loss or nearly ruin their lives before realizing that they need to make changes.
    • Unfortunately, some people might not make changes even after addiction ruins their lives or might live in a rock bottom state for years before changing.
    • Not everyone needs a catastrophic wake-up call to seek help! Some people recognize the danger of their behavior before things spiral out of control.
    • By seeking help in the early stages of addiction, a person can learn healthy coping skills before wrecking their lives.
  • “We Cannot Seek Treatment Until We’ve Hit Rock Bottom”
    • This myth might prevent people from getting help when they recognize that they are going down the wrong path. 
    • Some people might realize they are beginning to struggle to cope with issues, like an underlying mental illness, trauma, or a recent life event.
    • To a degree, this myth relies upon the former myth that rock bottom looks the same for everyone.
    • Since one person’s rock bottom can vary from another’s, we might need to redefine rock bottom as whatever point that person chose to seek treatment‒whether they are in the early stages of addiction or have lost everything in their lives.
  • “Relapse Will Look Like Our Past Rock Bottom”
    • After treatment, people might slip in their recovery yet not replicate the same behaviors or actions that lead to treatment.
    • Relapse can take many forms and does not always mean a resurgence of the same behaviors or conditions.
    • For example, a person sober from drugs or alcohol might begin to isolate themselves from others, spiraling into depression. Realizing that relapse does not need to be a rock bottom moment can help prevent issues from spiraling out of control.
  • “We Can Create Rock Bottom for Others to Force Treatment”
    • Some parents and loved ones might believe that tough love is the best approach to helping those struggling with addiction.
    • As parents, we might kick our kids out, cut off finances, or take other measures to accelerate a rock bottom moment to force treatment as the only option.
    • While parents can set consequences and carefully use natural consequences of behavior to motivate kids, attempting to force treatment on anyone can ruin relationships and make the other person’s life much more difficult.
    • Since each person reaches a turning point to chose recovery at different times, we might create conditions for our loved ones to live a more dangerous life—where they continue to refuse treatment yet now have fewer resources to cope with their struggles.
  • “There is No Hope Beyond Rock Bottom”
    • When a person hits what others believe to be a rock bottom moment, then refuses recovery anyway, loved ones might think there is no hope for change.
    • Perpetuating this myth is the idea that rock bottom will look the same for everyone, or that rock bottom is necessary before treatment.
    • People might stop drinking after one bad hangover caused them to call out of work. Others might lose their jobs, homes, spouses, nearly everything, and not enter treatment until years later.
    • Hope never goes away. Hitting rock bottom and refusing treatment is not a lost opportunity for change. 

Defining rock bottom can be just as individualized as the underlying causes of addiction or the methods of treatment a person chooses. Every person struggling with addiction is unique in how they decided to make changes in their lives. Not everyone needs a “drugs ruined my life” moment to make positive changes. By seeking treatment and help before things spiral out of control, they can minimize the impact of their rock bottom.

Rock bottom does not always mean that a person’s life is nearly ruined, or they have suffered catastrophic consequences due to an addiction. For some, rock bottom might be missing one crucial engagement due to using drugs or alcohol. In these instances, a person might get help before things spiral out of control. They notice the slip early on and get help. Others might live in their rock bottom for years, refusing recovery or treatment, living in survival mode while in the throes of addiction. Rock bottom looks different for everyone, much like how a person’s addiction, underlying issues, and treatment will differ from another’s. If your child is dealing with addiction to drugs or alcohol, Fire Mountain Residential Treatment Center might be the next right step for you and your family. For help and support, call us at (303) 443-3343. We’re here to make your family’s fire burn brightest.

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