What is ‘rock bottom’, and are you there yet? Here is what you need to know about the myths surrounding this infamous low point.
‘Rock bottom’ is the concept of hitting lowest point in your addiction – a signal that something has to change and that seeking outside support is necessary. Common examples of what we think of as rock bottom are: bankruptcy, divorce, overdosing, losing your job, destroying an important relationship, or even serious health issues like liver or lung damage.
The common perception of rock bottom is that it entails extreme circumstances. In reality, however, rock bottom comes in different forms and levels of severity for different people. Addiction is a slippery slope, and the sobering truth is that there is always a new low to reach. You hit rock bottom when you decide that you have had enough.
1. You have to lose everything to hit rock bottom.
Since everybody’s experience of addiction is different, there is no universal criteria for what constitutes rock bottom. For one person, stealing to fund their habit or losing their job could signal the lowest point of their lives. For another, ruining their marriage through cheating, lying or shame might make them feel like they have finally reached the end of their rope.
What is more important than the specific event that indicates your rock bottom is that you recognise what caused that moment and seek help for it. If you are not sure if you have indeed hit rock bottom, but are having thoughts about change and overcoming your addiction, then contact someone to talk about it. In some cases you may not have hit rock bottom yet, and will be able to recover from an addiction without going through the pain of finding out how low your addiction can drag you.
2. Rock bottom will make you want to change.
Some people may think of rock bottom as a turning point, but in reality, it may actually do little to encourage you to seek help. Most people addicted to drugs or alcohol have suffered many lows and negative consequences but continue to use substances as before.
Rock bottom is easy to romanticise because it represents a point at which someone is finally willing to admit to the world and themselves that they have a problem and are courageous enough to seek treatment. Fixing that point in the future means that they do not have to deal with the addiction today and that they can continue their habit for a little while longer.
3. When you reach rock bottom, you will want to seek treatment.
Some addicts believe that they have to reach rock bottom before they can seek treatment, or that they will want to go to rehab once they reach the bottom. This belief is often masked in fear, as admitting an addiction to yourself and others is an intimidating prospect. Many addicts believe that their situation is not that drastic yet, and that when they hit their lowest point they will change, but this is the biggest illusion about rock bottom.
If you have been too afraid to take the step and seek help during your addiction thus far, then there is no guarantee that your feelings will change when you hit a really low point. Every moment is a chance to seek treatment.
4. Hitting rock bottom makes relapse less likely.
Surviving rock bottom does not ensure that you will never submit to temptation again. The road to sobriety is long, and the low points should be seen as examples of why you entered recovery in the first place. Just because you hit rock bottom once does not mean you will not do it a second time, and often people leave rehab and relapse within just a few days because of their false sense of immunity from rock bottom.
You should use the memory of rock bottom as your biggest motivator to recover, and for this reason hitting rock bottom can help you get clean and never go back there. Sobriety is something to work on for a lifetime, and while you learn prevention techniques at rehab, you need to always be aware of potential relapse situations.
5. There is a rock bottom.
David Sheff, acclaimed author of Clean: Overcoming Addiction and Ending America’s Greatest Tragedy, warns: “Waiting for someone to hit rock bottom is a dangerous concept. Experts advise parents of it, but the reality is that studies show people who are coerced into treatment by way of their parents or even the legal system have an equal chance of doing well as those who ‘choose’ to be there.”
There is not a set rock bottom that people can say they have reached, nor is there one clear signal to enter rehabilitation. For those waiting to hit a low that will spur them into taking action, it might never come. Every day you have the chance to overcome your addiction by taking action and seeking help or advice. Often, waiting for a pivotal rock bottom moment can cause harm in the long run because it means the addiction survives longer and becomes even more ingrained. Waiting to hit an elusive all-time low before seeking treatment is dangerous, does not ensure you will have a successful recovery, and can have a serious impact on your mental and physical health.
6. You have to hit rock bottom before you can begin recovery.
If you are distressed, dissatisfied or worried about your addiction, use that feeling to motivate you to change, rather than waiting to hit rock bottom. Therapists agree that self-motivation is the key to change, rather than a negative situation causing a push factor. The seed of transformation is planted within – readiness and willingness to change are the real agents of a successful recovery.
If you feel that your drug or alcohol use has gotten out of control, it is time to seek help and take the first step to recovery today. At The Cabin Singapore, we employ our own unique addiction treatment method, Recovery Zones, which boasts a 96% completion rate. All of our addiction treatment specialists are vastly qualified and experienced, providing effective, modern and accessible addiction treatment and counselling. Contact us for a no-obligations assessment to see how we can help – forget about reaching rock bottom and learn how you can start your recovery today.