You have heard it hundreds of times: Addicts must hit rock bottom before they can get better.
The more I read and understand about addiction makes that until recently uncontroverted “rule” seem as sound as putting leaches on my skin to suck out the demons. When have you ever heard of a problem, health or otherwise, that got better singularly because of time or depth of desperation? Is it really better to wait until the addict can no longer afford medical insurance? Some illnesses have to run their course, but those sicknesses aren’t usually potentially fatal. It is true one can have deep spiritual epiphanies when supremely lost, but that’s not the only way you can figure out you are killing yourself. Lawsuits get more expensive and convoluted over time. Left untreated, cancer pretty much kills people. The drug-addled brain of an addict is very unlikely to use good judgment all of a sudden because they are panhandling. They may be so fucked-up they can’t even appreciate the low of how low they are. Is it easier to lose one hundred pounds or twenty? Losing everything may make it harder for an Addict to recover because they have nothing to live for, no reason to get better, no buoy of hope. They are so ashamed that they have screwed everything up so supremely that there is no sense coming back.
I Thought Addicts Must Hit Bottom So I Wanted That Shit Out of the Way ASAP
I vividly recall a conversation I had with the father of my addicted husband. I said, with the conviction only someone in their twenties can make about the world, (even though I was in my thirties at the time): “He’s [the addict] better off sleeping under a bridge than in the safe isolated place I’ve allowed him to stay.” I felt like I was enabling my addict by paying the mortgage on the house he was living in. I felt supremely guilty about providing a safe place for him to drink. I was all “tough love” and “let him lie in the mess he’s made”. My anger was well-placed, sort of, but I’ve come to understand that scraping the bottom frequently means the end for a lot of addicts. The time to intervene is whenever you figure out there’s a problem. You don’t have to wait for the D.U.I.’s and cirrhosis of the liver. I’ll end the suspense for you: Those two things suck. You don’t have to wait for the addict to deplete any funds that could be used to help before he or she is harder to reach.
Set Clear Boundaries and Take Care of Yourself
This also doesn’t mean that you have to rescue someone else from their addiction to the cost of your sanity or security. I simply want to disabuse you of the thought that the addict won’t get better until they scrape their knees on the pavement or that individuals in rehabilitation can’t get better if they aren’t there of their own free will. Often, only a developed brain, a sober brain, can make good decisions. I rarely make good decisions when I’m hungover except for whether I want pepperoni or sausage on my pizza.
Of course, the answer is always, “yes”.