Common But Counterproductive
It’s common to assume that sometimes a person struggling with substance use disorder has to hit a stumbling block so monumental they have no choice but to realize it’s the substance use that’s the problem, and thus want to get help. They idea that it’s necessary to “hit rock bottom” is counterproductive, however.
As we wait for our loved one to finally reach a point of no return in their addiction, there are ways we can subtly change to help them come to desire recovery before a catastrophic event happens in their life due to their substance use. This proactive approach is much more likely to be successful than waiting until the problem spirals out of control.
There’s No One-Size-Fits-All Rock Bottom Moment
Every individual is unique, and every situation is customized by that person’s life choices. There is no universal point of rock bottom and no magical moment where every person struggling with addiction has a moment of clarity and immediately turns to rehabilitation. Hitting rock bottom isn’t a goal or even necessary.
There are a variety of reasons someone seeks out recovery. Being supported by family and friends—knowing you’re not alone in the journey—is a key turning point for many. For others, it can be the loss of a job or end of a relationship as consequence for the substance use. Still others may suffer health problems that lead them to treatment.
Myth vs. Reality
This mythical place of rock bottom can become a hindrance to family and friends looking to stage an intervention. They may be looking for a seemingly-perfect scenario, whether real or manufactured, to make their loved one miraculously choose to accept the need for rehabilitation.
Interventions are delicate scenarios. When faced with a situation where they feel bullied by those they perceive as their support system, the person battling substance use can become defensive and resist recovery more vehemently. In this case, the rock bottom moment completely backfires. In addition, it can break down communication with the addicted person and make future intervention more challenging.
Love Them Through It
Family and friends struggle as well when someone they love has a substance use disorder. They all can react differently to the struggle, but what the addict needs is consistency—not necessarily in their reactions, but consistency in their support.
It can be extremely difficult for family and friends to make changes to their own behaviors, when what they want is for the behavior of their loved one to change. They may be angry and hurt over being lied to, stolen from, stood-up, and maybe even embarrassed because of the addict’s choices and substance use.
When you make them feel listened to, as well as making their fears and wants part of the conversation, this positive reinforcement can mean the difference between addiction and recovery. Knowing people are on their side instead of fighting with them is sometimes all it takes to help someone struggling with addiction to choose rehabilitation.