How Low Do You Go Before Seeking Recovery?

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How-Low-Do-You-Go-Before-Seeking-Recovery

Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life. J.K. Rowling

When we think of addicted individuals hitting rock-bottom before reaching recovery, we may think in catastrophic terms like homelessness, serious physical consequences such as liver disease or heart failure, shooting up in crack houses, imprisonment, drunk driving with horrible consequences. Humiliation, hopelessness and havoc are the passwords for rock-bottom addiction, it seems, and some rock-bottom stories contain all of the above and more. But recovery doesn’t have to wait until someone is lying hopeless in an alleyway. The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous acknowledges that recovery is entirely possible when people have “their health, their families, their jobs, and even two cars in the garage.” In fact, younger people who are “scarcely more than potential alcoholics” find recovery, the 12-step book asserts.

Each substance abuser has a unique rock bottom. Some people know they have hit bottom when they simply realize that they can’t stop abusing a particular substance, hard as they try. Without losing any of their material wealth or their physical health, they may be alarmed to find that they are out of control and seek help before it goes further. Others may receive warnings from their employers about absences and poor performance, and knowing that alcohol or drugs are at the bottom of the warnings, they seek recovery while they still have a job. Still others may see signs of deterioration in their relationships, and especially if substance use has been mentioned by others, they may reach out for help. These are rock-bottom scenarios for what is called the “high-functioning” or “high-bottom” substance abuser, and while they may not be full of drama, these stories are disturbing for those who experience them, providing just as strong a foundation for recovery as any painful rock-bottom story.

Low-bottom or high, the stories of how people came to recovery are important to tell. They assure addicted individuals that recovery is possible, and that it’s up to them to determine when they’ve had enough.

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