Do you feel like you have an unhealthy relationship with substances? If so, you are not alone.
Statistics reveal that approximately 1 in 7 people in the US may develop a substance abuse disorder during their life. Substance abuse disorders can be categorized as mild, moderate, or severe.
Unfortunately, many people assume they can’t seek out help until they reach rock bottom. This is not true.
You don’t have to develop a severe substance use disorder to seek help. If a certain substance is playing a bigger role in your life than you’d like it to, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t get help and stop things in their tracks.
Taking action in the early stages of an addictive tendency can increase your chances of successfully making changes. It can also stall the widespread collateral damage that addiction can have on one’s life.
Continue reading to find out why reaching rock bottom isn’t necessary for addiction recovery.
Why Many People Think They Need to Hit Rock Bottom Before Seeking Help
The concept that a person has to reach rock bottom before they seek addiction treatment stems from various things.
For one, early treatment programs typically focused on people who had reached advanced stages of addiction. These treatment programs often had more success with advanced addiction because the victims were more motivated to change.
Reaching rock bottom can trigger a turning point. Feeling like you’ve reached rock bottom, whatever that might look like for you, can be a wake-up call that sparks action and determination.
Another reason is that TV shows and media typically cover stories of recovery from advanced addiction.
Stories of advanced addiction recovery are a lot more attention-grabbing. Inspirational stories of people hitting rock bottom and turning their lives around trigger emotions and demonstrate the strength of the human spirit.
But how many people have quietly gone about changing their relationship with a substance? These stories don’t usually make it into books, podcasts, and interviews. But it doesn’t mean they don’t exist.
Lastly, it’s hard to admit to oneself that you might have an addiction problem. If it’s only a mild case of addiction, it’s easy to brush it off and tell yourself things like “most people have a few drinks to unwind,” “I can stop anywhere I want,” “everyone needs some guilty pleasures,” etc.
The Problems with the Rock Bottom Assumption
Unfortunately, the rock bottom assumption has a lot of problems.
For one, there is no solid definition of rock bottom. Rock bottom for you might be losing a relationship. For someone else, it might be losing their job. For some people, it’s losing everything.
There’s almost a limitless amount of rock bottoms, but pretty much all of them involve loss. Loss of friends and family, loss of self-respect, loss of control, loss of health and vitality, loss of income or career.
At the very least, you will waste time. If you feel you have to wait for rock bottom to arrive before you can get help, you might waste years slowly allowing your life to deteriorate.
Another problem with waiting until things get bad to start addiction treatment is that may be far harder.
Many people think that rock bottom is the only acceptable time to seek help, but it’s actually one of the worst times to seek help. The longer you over-use an addictive substance the more hardwired your brain and body become to receive it.
Because of this, early intervention is usually associated with better outcomes. It’s physically easier to heal from a mild addiction than a severe one. It’s also mentally easier to adjust your mindset and get used to changes you might need to make.
For instance, if you have been drinking excessively for many years, it can be very hard to suddenly picture yourself as a teetotaler. On the other hand, if your alcohol use has only been getting out of hand over the last year or so, it can be much easier to picture yourself as someone who doesn’t drink.
The Advantages of Seeking Addiction Recovery Before Reaching Rock Bottom
Seeking addiction recovery before you reach rock bottom can be one of the most beneficial moves you can make.
Here are some of the advantages that come with early action.
Recovery Will Be Easier
Like we said above, recovery after early intervention can be a lot easier. Physical addiction or dependency will usually be far less.
It can also be easier for the brain to rewire its positive feedback loops. Positive feedback loops strengthen in the brain around things that trigger its pleasure centers. If you do something that causes the brain to release feel-good brain chemicals, this creates a feedback loop that triggers you into wanting to repeat the action.
This can be a good thing if it’s around beneficial things like exercise, connecting with others, or any other healthy set of actions.
However, when positive feedback loops form around harmful substances, such as recreational drugs, alcohol, or even sugar, this can be a driving force of addiction that strengthens with time.
In severe cases, these feedback loops can become the only thing that brings pleasure. For instance, if you only feel truly relaxed and happy after a couple of drinks, these feedback loops have likely gotten out of hand.
Rates of Recovery Are Better
Because early intervention often comes with easier recovery, your chances of recovery are often better if you take early action.
There are course cases where people seek help, only to relapse and make a full recovery after the rock bottom stage.
However, taking early action is usually the best way to give yourself an increased chance of sustained recovery.
Withdrawal Symptoms Will Be Less
The more time one’s body has to get used to a certain substance, the more reliant on the substance it will become. Early intervention can help minimize physical withdrawal symptoms, making recovery easier and less debilitating.
Your Body Will Be in Better Condition
Substance use can have many negative health consequences, ranging from liver issues to neurological deterioration, heart conditions, and compromised liver function.
If you feel like you are over-using a substance, the earlier you seek out help, the fewer negative health effects you will suffer.
If you act soon enough, your body will be minimally impacted. The longer you let an addiction play out, the more damage you’ll be left to deal with after you recover.
You’ll Win Back Years and Experiences You Might Have Lost to Addiction
Given enough time, addiction can grow to the point where it takes over most of one’s life. It can rob you of meaningful experiences, treasured relationships, and personal growth.
If you stop an addiction early, you can win back years of positive experiences that you might have been robbed of. If addiction gets out of hand, it destroys relationships, enjoyment of life, one’s career, and more.
If you unsubscribe from the idea that rock bottom is the only time you’re allowed to seek help, these things won’t be threatened.
Your Loved Ones Will Benefit
Speaking of relationships, your loved ones will also benefit from early intervention. The tighter the grip addiction takes; the more family and friends suffer. Watching a loved one struggle with the effects of addiction can be very hard. At advanced stages, it can cause emotional trauma.
If you take early action on an addiction, you could save your loved ones from unforeseen suffering and the long-lasting effects of trauma.
Seeking Help Is Not Shameful
One of the reasons why people often wait until rock bottom to seek help is because they worry about what others will think.
If you do not have an advanced case of addiction, it can be easy to keep it to yourself, even if it’s something you’d like to change.
Unfortunately, there is still an aura of stigma around addiction. This is very damaging and entirely flawed.
Any one of us could, at some point in our lives, become a victim of addiction. If you happen to be struggling with an addiction, mild or severe, it doesn’t make you any less of a person.
There is zero shame in seeking out early help if your body has developed an addiction. If anybody in your life does look down on you for your action, they do not have your best interests at heart. The people that do will support you every step of the way.
Signs to Seek Early Intervention
Are you wondering when to get help for addiction?
Signs of addiction can vary depending on the severity of dependence. If you are noticing physical signs of dependency, then now is definitely the time to take action.
However, there might be other, more subtle signs you can also listen to.
For instance, if you’ve realized that you’re not attending parent-teacher meetings because you need to get home and have a drink, there’s no shame in seeking help.
Or maybe you’ve stopped socializing with certain people because they don’t drink, or only drink on occasion? Perhaps you just don’t like the fact that evenings don’t feel the same without a couple of glasses of wine?
Or maybe you’ve noticed you often drink more than you intended and regret it the next day? Or perhaps you’ve noticed that you’re using certain substances to alleviate anxiety?
It doesn’t matter what other people think or consider “normal”. If you are feeling uncomfortable with your relationship with alcohol or any other substance, now is the time to seek help. Not when you reach rock bottom.
Don’t Wait Until Rock Bottom, Get Help Now
Rock bottom is not the only time you’re allowed to seek help. Getting early help with an addiction, no matter how mild, is a smart move. It can make the healing process easier and ensure you don’t lose things you hold dear to an addiction.
Are you wondering how to get help for addiction?
Here at Cenikor, we offer tailored treatment programs, including support for family members. One of our areas of focus is early intervention.
Reach out today and allow us the honor of being your partner in the first steps to your recovery.