The Time is Now, Not Later: Don’t Wait for ‘Rock Bottom’
Though October is Substance Abuse Prevention Month, it doesn’t mean we should forget about those currently struggling with substance abuse and dependency. Recently I wrote a piece for Healing Walls, a website dealing with addiction, mental health issues, and recovery. In the article, I discussed the idea of ‘rock bottom’ and why waiting for it is more harmful than good.
The problem with ‘rock bottom’ is that it’s a myth too many people in need of help for their substance abuse disorders cling to; they reason that because they haven’t yet hit ‘rock bottom’ they must not be too bad. They argue that they have control over their addiction because they continue to function in society; they hold a job, they’re married, and somehow more respectable than “other addicts.”
That kind of elitism is dangerous. It promotes the idea that addiction is shameful and somehow the fault of the sufferer, which often prevents people from seeking help. Also, it’s hypocritical: just because you haven’t lost it all doesn’t make you any better than those whose lives are ruined by addiction. The reality is anyone can easily fall into the same type of detriment so many easily mock and criticize.
So if you aren’t supposed to wait for ‘rock bottom’, what does that mean for getting help for your substance abuse disorder? When are you supposed to seek recovery, if not then?
Now. The answer is right now.
It is difficult for some to come to terms with the fact that they have developed an addiction to drugs or alcohol. Usually this is because of a basic human flaw we all possess: the foolish notion that we are above that type of misfortune. The idea that addiction only happens to other people is the cause of thousands of deaths per year due to overdose or the effects of substance abuse.
Here’s the honest truth: one in ten people above the age of 12 is addicted to drugs or alcohol. Only about 11 percent of those people receive the treatment they need.
The reasons vary: shame, pride, lack of access, responsibility to others, stubbornness, lack of self-worth. Some never get the chance; overdose deaths have skyrocketed over the last few years. Don’t become part of that growing statistic.
Symptoms of addiction include:
- changes in mood or behavior
- changes in sleep and eating patterns
- sudden weight loss/ weight gain
- neglecting responsibilities
- visibly altered state of consciousness
- sudden secretiveness
- neglecting personal grooming and appearance
- tremors, lack of coordination
- changes in friend circle, hang out locations and hobbies
- sudden onset of paranoia, hyperactivity, or angry outbursts
- unexplained financial troubles and need to borrow or steal money
If you recognize these symptoms in yourself or someone you love, the time to act is now.
Even if you don’t think they’re necessarily a problem, the earlier someone suffering from a substance abuse disorder receives help, the better their chances of recovery without major health ramification. Years of prolonged abuse or even a shorter period of time with heavy use can cause lasting damage to vital organs and the mind. Additionally, someone with a substance abuse disorder may cause irrevocable damage to their personal relationships, get into major trouble with the law, or derail their future without the proper interventions.
That being said, it is also vital to the recovery process that the person in need is ready. This doesn’t mean waiting for ‘rock bottom’ either; you cannot force anyone to let go of their vices, but the right support and encouragement can help them reach the point of seeking help themselves.
Too often people suffering from addiction are abandoned or shunned for their problems which only serves to cause more problems. Addiction and substance abuse is often rooted in mental disorders, emotional traumas, or other causes which lie beneath the surface. The proper rehabilitation will serve to address these underlying causes to alleviate addictive behaviors.
Waiting for ‘rock bottom’ is dangerous and unnecessary. Just like with any disease, seeking early treatment and interventions can save a life.
Do you think it’s necessary to hit rock bottom before rehab is effective? Let us know what you think!
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About the Author
Alexandrea Holder is a South Florida native working toward double Master’s degrees in Psychology and English. She finds the psychological aspects of addiction and mental illness fascinating, as both are prevalent in her family’s history. When not researching and spreading addiction awareness, Alexandrea enjoys sparring, artistic pursuits, and admiring puppies online.