Out With The Old: Goodbye, “Rock Bottom”
The idea that an individual has to hit “rock bottom” in order to recover is one that pervades the addiction treatment and recovery communities with devastating consequences. Rooted primarily in oral tradition with little scientific evidence to back it up, this expired theory continues to be widely transmitted throughout our nation’s living rooms, treatment centers, media outlets, social gatherings and everyday conversations. Not only is harboring this mindset harmful, it is deadly. With more people dying in our communities from drug-related deaths than automobile accidents, the time is right now for a massive overhaul of old thinking in order to make way for what we know to be true.
One area in which a shift in thinking must take place is around the need for wider recognition of the fact that assertive outreach works. Rather than waiting for individuals to seek support for a condition that hijacks the very same brain responsible for performing the tasks necessary to execute that decision, we must have agencies and systems assertively reaching out to and engaging those who are struggling. We must continue to grow a robust network of community-based, faith-based, government funded, privately funded, diverse and trained organizations that beckon to, invite and warmly welcome individuals into services with no barriers and wide open doors. We must educate individuals, families, communities and society at large about the nature of substance use disorder and the evidence-based interventions that treat and support ongoing recovery. Rather than allowing for hard landings into jagged rocks that most often puncture, wound and, let’s be honest here, kill people, we must instead facilitate soft landings into safe, supportive spaces where recovery can be initiated and sustained. It is time to forget about allowing for “rock bottom” and instead focus on facilitating ways to elevate individuals out of illness. It is time that the old, misinformed ways of thinking change.