What is Rock Bottom?
You hear this term a lot, particularly in substance abuse. It’s the low point—the lowest of lows, where the person is supposed to decide to turn their life around.
Unfortunately, if the person doesn’t use it as motivation to get better, they find an even lower point. Another rock-bottom? Well, that doesn’t make sense.
Technically there can only be one rock bottom; death. All too often, that’s the result of addiction, but why?
There’s a school of thought that is advocated in the treatment world. It’s the idea that you can’t make a person want to get better. THEY must decide. The advice? They have to hit rock bottom.
There is some truth to this. Certainly, dragging someone kicking and screaming to rehab and through the entire treatment process won’t help. But what this fails to take into account is that a person can develop motivation throughout the process. Given that the cycle of addiction is worsened by the desperation and clouded judgment that drugs induce, it stands to reason that once a person is off drugs and through subsequent withdrawal symptoms, they can make better decisions.
That’s why intervention work. But the problem with waiting for rock bottom is that you can’t come back from death. Addiction is Russian roulette. There are homeless heroin addicts who survive for 20 years and high-school students who overdose on their first try. You never know. Waiting for someone to have a revelation is a huge gamble that doesn’t always pay off.
So, what can you do if someone you love is using drugs but doesn’t want to get better? Or doesn’t want to do it now. You may have heard that pushing the issue will drive them away. Well, they’re already away. Maybe you don’t want to push them to use drugs. They already are. You can’t make it worse by trying to do something about it.
Professional interventionists are also very skilled at handling the most stubborn cases. The trick? Breaking down the person’s defense mechanisms and then striking while the iron is hot. Nobody wants to be a drug addict, despite what they may say. In a moment of clarity, they may admit to wanting help. This window will not last, so you must act and get them into treatment immediately.
Everyone is different, and to a degree, there must be some sort of consequence for a person to want to change. If everything’s great, they’ll just keep using drugs. Techniques used by interventionalist bring the bottom up. They make it safer and easier to get someone’s help, but there’s usually a window in a person’s addiction where you can help them pull up before they nosedive. After that, it gets much more challenging and dangerous.
If you’re debating whether you should intervene in a loved one’s addiction, stop debating. Do anything before it’s too late.