Addiction is a non-discriminating disease of the brain. Individuals of any age, ethnicity, and socioeconomic level can develop and suffer from a substance abuse disorder. As a potentially fatal affliction, addiction doesn’t care about an individual’s aspirations and goals, whether they have a family to care for or whether they’re the CEO of a Fortune 500 company. When an individual suffers from physical dependency and a substance abuse disorder, it not only costs them their physical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual health, but also their financial stability, independence, and many of the relationships that had been important to them.
Before we had the benefit of having a wealth of addiction research from which we could learn about this chronic brain disease, it was commonly thought that individuals who suffered from addiction were merely bad people: selfish, egotistical, irresponsible, weak of will and character. As a result, many laws were put in place that offered only punitive treatments for addicts, which meant that instead of receiving treatment for addiction that allowed these individuals to recover, they were punished for their disease in the hope that it would discourage them from continuing to be an addict.
However, the problem with this punitive model is that it assumed addiction was a behavioral problem that was more like a crime than anything else. Legal repercussions covered the consequences of individuals’ behaviors that occurred in the name of their dependencies, but it soon became apparent that many of these individuals returned to substance abuse once they’d fulfilled their sentences.
Dealing with addicts punitively isn’t the only addiction fallacy that’s been common. The expression “hitting rock bottom” is commonly used to refer to an addict’s reaching a low point in his or her life that is a direct result of their addiction. As we have accumulated a better understanding of addiction as a chronic brain disease, many have retained the assumption that before an addict can really decide to get sober and choose to receive treatment for addiction, he or she must hit rock bottom.
The problem with this line of thought is that it narrowly defines the parameters of what it means to hit rock bottom and believe that an addict couldn’t possibly begin recovery until they’ve degraded to this very specific state: Jobless, homeless, financially destitute, having lost their family and friends, and at a point in life in which addiction just couldn’t possibly cause any additional hardships. However, rock bottom is different for each addict.
Rock Bottom for an Addict: The End of the Downward Spiral
Rock bottom for an addict will be different than that of other addicts. This is largely because, due to each person’s different background and their individual paths in life, every person has different things that they could lose, whether it be a job, a family, a home, a car, friends, family heirlooms, and so on. Identifying rock bottom for an addict operates on the principle that the longer an individual remains in active addiction, the more harm, damage, or destruction addiction will have on his or her life. Suffering from addiction is often compared to being a
Identifying rock bottom for an addict operates on the principle that the longer an individual remains in active addiction, the more harm, damage, or destruction addiction will have on his or her life. Suffering from addiction is often compared to being a downward spiral during which an individual’s thought patterns, having been warped and distorted by addiction, lead him or her to a variety of dismaying situations.
These can include committing crimes, lying and stealing from loved ones, selling valuable belongings in order to obtain money to fund their addiction, losing jobs and other opportunities, ending up with a criminal record that will affect future opportunities, putting loved ones in danger, and so on. The phrase “hitting rock bottom” is used to refer to the point in which an addict has reached such a low point in life that he or she has nothing left to lose. From this point, the only place left to go is back up.
How Do You Know When You’ve Hit Rock Bottom?
Since every addict has different things to lose, rock bottom looks different for each person. What’s more, the extent to which an individual has a choice in their rock bottom is often overlooked, especially by those individuals around an addict. Many assume that before an addict is ready to receive help and treatment for addiction, he or she must reach this ultimate low point in their life so that they are able to realize that they’ve reached a point in time when they must stop digging and climb out of their hole if they want to live. However, each addict has a choice: Rock bottom for an addict can happen at any time.
When an individual develops an addiction, they begin by trying to manage their dependency without it costing them anything. You’ve likely heard the expression “functioning alcoholic” or “functioning addict” to refer to individuals who suffer from active addiction, but whose lives don’t appear, at least at a glance, to have been damaged by their substance abuse disorder.
Despite the myth that a select few are able to prevent addiction from causing hardship, the reality of this situation is that they’ve simply been able to delay what is ultimately inevitable; as an individual continues to live in active addiction, he or she will experience hardships and begin losing things as a result. As the addiction progresses over time, even “functioning” addicts will become less and less functional as their substance abuse disorder triggers the downward spiral.
One of the most difficult things an addict will ever do is decide that it’s time to begin the journey of recovery. As a disease, addiction protects itself by making it exceedingly difficult for the addict to realize that he or she no longer wants to live in the throes of dependency. Each point in time during which an addict digs a little deeper into his or her hole is an opportunity to decide that enough is enough and begin rehabilitation. Rock bottom for an addict isn’t a universal state, but rather is determined by each addict on an individual basis. It essentially comes down to this: How much more does the individual want to lose before they decide that the cost of addiction is too high?
Recover from Addiction and Physical Dependency Today
If you or someone you love is suffering from chemical or behavioral dependency and addiction, Drug Treatment Center Finder is here to help. We have a team of knowledgeable, caring recovery specialists that have helped many addicts begin the journey of recovery. Don’t wait—call today.