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Addiction Recovery: Why Hitting Rock Bottom Does Not Have To Be A Bad Thing

Last Updated: Sep 14th 2022

Reviewed by North Jersey Recovery Center

Spreading myths is an incredibly problematic issue, and this is especially true in the world of substance abuse, addiction, and recovery. Misinformation around addiction will obviously do more harm than good, and it can often result in missed opportunities for treatment, worsening conditions, or injuries. Case and point–the rock bottom myth. This myth states that someone that is abusing alcohol or other illicit substances will not seek out help until they have hit rock bottom. Giving into these myths can have damaging repercussions for both the addict and their loved ones. As a provider of addiction treatment in Bergen County NJ and the surrounding areas, North Jersey Recovery Center firmly believes that myths like these can be easily dispelled. Let’s provide more clarity on this topic and explain why hitting rock bottom does not have to be a bad thing.

What Is Rock Bottom?

It goes without saying that no one should put any stock in these kinds of myths, and even more so if your recovery is on the line. The myth of rock bottom begins on a problematic note as there is no concrete definition. It’s not something that’s consistent from person to person. A person may believe they have reached rock bottom, only to have fallen further into the depths of the abyss. In essence, rock bottom is viewed as the lowest point in someone’s life due to their substance use and addiction.

Resource Loss

An important factor that stands out within the rock bottom discussion is loss of resources. The term itself seems to signify losses commonly associated with addiction. Patients who have been hit with issues that stem from substance abuse and addiction always risk losing or damaging multiple resources, which include the following:

  • Supportive relationships
  • Financial security
  • Employment
  • Housing and safety
  • Physical & mental health

The theory would imply that treatment will not be effective until most or all of these resources are lost or damaged. The myth paints a grim picture of someone who has lost it all, making it sound like you should only get help if life has stripped you of everything you enjoyed and needed to thrive. Believe us when we say it–when seeking addiction treatment in Bergen County NJ, we will not contort your views to align with myths that only seek to harm, not help.

Why Is It Risky To Believe This Myth?

The biggest issue with the rock bottom myth is that it leads to many dangerous outcomes that would never be suggested in other fields. Just like a cardiologist wouldn’t want until an aortic valve bursts to do corrective surgery, the same should be true for addicts. Why would you want to wait until rock bottom before seeking the help that you so desperately need? Delayed responses will only increase your likelihood of harmful physical and mental consequences. Don’t believe us? Here are some of the common occurrences that can manifest both physically and mentally.

Physical Health Risks

Effects from substance abuse can occur at any given moment. The longer the drugs and alcohol are used, the more likely that physical damage increases. This can include:

  • Damage to major organs like the liver
  • Malnutrition and weight loss
  • Stress on the heart from stimulant use
  • Transmission of blood borne diseases like HIV and hepatitis from regular injection use.
  • Dental and skin deterioration (more common amongst methamphetamine users)
  • Respiratory depression
  • Harm to the reproductive system and when pregnant, the developing fetus
  • Sexual dysfunction

Mental Health Risks

Mental health is just as vulnerable as someone’s physical health. Continued substance use stimulates the release of a neurotransmitter known as dopamine. As time goes on, excessive amounts of dopamine released from substances leads to a decrease in natural production, resulting in less happiness and excitement. Other mental health issues that can vary according to the substance and the individual can include:

  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Depression
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Violent behaviors
  • Paranoia, psychosis, and delusional patterns of thinking
  • Cognitive impairments

Raising The Bottom: Finding A Better Way

As stated earlier, many people, including our staff who administers addiction treatment in Bergen County NJ, believe there are healthy ways to climb past these stigmas, myths, and negative perceptions that have been heavily imbued in our culture. Interestingly enough, there is some truth in the rock bottom myth, with some research indicating that resource loss is a good predictor of treatment completion. The difference is that resource loss does not have to be drastic to be impactful. This is known as the concept of raising the bottom. If the person who is abusing the substances can respond to minor changes in their life, they will not need to endure the hardships of rock bottom. Supporters of this idea can aid in raising the bottom by avoiding the risk that comes from enabling current use. 

Here are other examples of how you can support your loved ones under this model:

  • Allow the affected person to resolve his or her own personal conflicts
  • Practice consistency when setting limits and boundaries
  • Discuss and support treatment options
  • Provide transportation to doctor or therapy appointments

Defying Myths: Addiction Treatment In Bergen County NJ With North Jersey Recovery Center

Effective treatment options for addiction can occur at any stage of the process, regardless of how moderate to severe your addiction is. Do not wait until it manifests as doing so will take a toll on your physical and mental fortitude. Recovery never has to wait. To get started with treatment with us, contact us today!

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by North Jersey Recovery Center