When dealing with the issue of dependency, it’s a sad reality that a lot of people wait far too long before attempting to seek help.
Many who have problems with drug or alcohol addiction often try to hide or suppress their problems for as long as they can. However, as with many problems, brushing it under the carpet is only a short-term solution that risks creating a bigger problem in the future.
Why do people delay seeking addiction treatment?
There are many reasons why people struggling with addiction don’t look for the help they need straightaway. The most common is denial.
In the early stages, addicts will often downplay the extent of their addiction (“I only smoke in the evening”), the consequences of their behaviour (“What’s the harm? It’s not affecting anyone else…”) or convince themselves that they’re able to stop at any time (“I’m only drinking because of x. I’ll stop once y is over”).
Denial is often the most evident defence mechanism among those dealing with substance abuse. Generally, this is because people, especially high-flying individuals, think they can manage their own life without help from others. After all, they’re very successful in other areas. As a result, that denial often becomes increasingly entrenched.
Shame is another factor that makes admitting the need for treatment difficult. Although a lot of progress has been made in this regard, unfortunately, a certain stigma still surrounds mental health, particularly addiction, in a way that it wouldn’t if it were a physical disorder.
Therefore, the reaction of family and friends if they were to enter rehab could be a major concern on an emotional level. On a practical level, such revelations could still be career-ending in certain sectors.
The third main factor preventing addicts from seeking treatment is fear. This can manifest itself in a number of ways. It could be a fear of what life will be like without the substance, of any withdrawal symptoms, that treatment won’t work, or even fear of failure and subsequent relapse.
For those who work in competitive high-stakes industries, the fear of what taking a leave of absence might have on their career prospects is also very pertinent.
Any one (or all) of these factors can prove to be an obstacle to getting the treatment you need. So, rather than nipping the problem in the bud, a ‘rock-bottom scenario’ can occur instead.
Hitting ‘rock bottom’
‘Hitting rock bottom’ is an expression frequently associated with addiction. Such a moment is impossible to define as it can look and feel very different for everyone. Unfortunately, in many cases, something monumental has to occur, sometimes with horrific or long-lasting consequences.
For one person, ‘rock bottom’ could be a near-fatal overdose. For another, it could be a suicide attempt.
Likewise, finding yourself stealing prescription drugs to get your fix, being fired from your job, hurting or killing someone in an accident caused by your substance taking, or having your children taken away from you could all constitute a ‘rock-bottom moment’.
That said, ‘rock bottom’ doesn’t necessarily have to be a one-off event as life-changing as the situations previously outlined. Nor does it have to be a nervous, mental or emotional breakdown. In fact, it can be a malaise that lasts several days, months, or years.
Overall, it could simply be the feeling of being sick and tired of being sick and tired, seeing no hope and feeling emotionally overwhelmed and broken.
This can be seen in behavioural changes (such as increased substance intake, starting on new substances, and binge eating) or other psychological issues being triggered or exacerbated, such as such as anxiety, depression, stress, trauma flashbacks, paranoia, and insomnia.
Physical symptoms, such as chest pain or tightness, muscle tension, sweating, dizziness, panic attacks, shaking, stomach upsets, and high blood pressure, may also be present.
When such a state is reached, this is often the moment of realisation that action needs to be taken.
Why hitting your lowest point is often needed
What ‘rock bottom’ means or looks like isn’t so important. What’s important is what it represents. And for many, it represents a turning point: the moment which forced them to actively seek change.
It’s often said that you must first go through hell to get to paradise. For a lot of people, breaking down can be the eye-opener that they need.
That said, waiting for the straw that breaks the camel’s back isn’t the best approach. However, it sometimes provides a useful function: it creates a resolve in an individual to never return to that dark place in which they found themselves.
Act before it’s too late
Do you have to hit rock bottom before seeking help? The simple answer is no.
While this scenario frequently leads to people with addiction seeking help, it’s a point you don’t have to reach. In fact, it goes without saying that it’s much more beneficial to reach out to a professional before potential tragedy strikes.
The signs will have been present for a long time, even years. So having sufficient self-awareness can help you to avoid hitting rock bottom altogether.
If you’re asking yourself if you must hit rock bottom before seeking help, there’s good news. This means that you haven’t hit rock bottom yet and are showing signs of motivation to change.
New Year, new beginnings
The New Year is a time when many seize the opportunity to make significant life changes.
It’s a symbolic time as we draw the line under the experiences – good or bad – of the past year and focus on creating a new story for the coming year.
Let that story be one of taking back control over your choices and returning to living a fulfilling life.
Our expert team of dedicated professionals at White River Manor has decades of professional experience in treating all types of emotional issues and mental health problems linked to dependency.
We use a combination of therapeutic practices personalised to each client’s unique set of circumstances.
Don’t wait for something awful to happen. We believe we have created the ideal location for recovery in the heart of South Africa.
Contact us now to speak about how we can help with your recovery.