Rock bottom vs Willingness to change

Moment of Clarity

One of the greatest myths about addiction and alcoholism is the perception that only once an addict has hit “rock bottom”, can he or she get help.  Over the years at Eden we have treated hundreds of people who have come through our doors, and through experience we know that “rock bottom” is a myth, and possibly a very dangerous one.  Intervention works and must be considered at any stage of the addiction process.

It can take an event like a bad accident for someone to reach a point where they will reach out for help, or the addiction cycle can take years slowly eroding any hint of a normal life for the addict and their family.  The consequences get worse with time.  But you don’t have to wait until you have lost everything, or for your health to be irreparably harmed, or to find your relationships and career in tatters.  The fact is that the earlier you intervene the better.

A rock bottom could involve:

  • The loss of a job and financial problems
  • A relationship breakup or the loss of a friendship
  • Remorse over particularly bad behavior while intoxicated
  • Legal problems
  • Deteriorating health or warnings from a doctor
  • An emotional or mental breakdown
  • A desperate feeling of becoming sick and tired of feeling sick and tired

The truth is that nobody “wants” to go to rehab. Our clients are at different stages of change.  They may be very resistant or ambivalent.  They may also be ready to consider a solid plan for recovery.  The longer they are in treatment the closer they will get to the stage of change where they are actively engaging with recovery, making their own goals and sticking to their new values and standards for living.

There are specific milestones in the change process.  It is our job to help them move from one stage to the next.  So the word change is key.  Treatment works regardless of whether a person has hit rock bottom or not.  The earlier you catch the person in the addiction cycle, the fewer consequences there will be for them and the family.

If you are reading this, and you think you may have a problem, pause and count the signposts along the way.  You may have noticed that you drink or use more than you set out to, and although you have made efforts to “detox” for a time, it has been difficult to achieve this.  Your friends may have noticed that you cannot relax without a drink or a substance.  Your boss and your work colleagues may be concerned that you have missed days at work.  Your partner could be nagging you to spend more time with your kids or family.  You may have given up healthy habits like running or hiking for hours spent drinking or using.  The worse you feel the more you drink, and you may feel that depression is the problem.  You may have become aware of nasty withdrawal effects in the mornings like sweating, anxiety and shaking.

If any of these symptoms are true for you, you should start thinking about seeing a professional who understands the addiction process.  Or book an assessment at Eden so that we can start to create a treatment plan for you.

Family involvement

If the above symptoms are happening to someone you care about, this may be the time to start doing something about it.  Intervention is a vital step and you shouldn’t do this without the help of someone who knows how to do this.  There are in fact, many things that families can do to speed the process up.  Family members do not have to bear the burden of waiting for a rock bottom.  The right Intervention is necessary.


Because of public misunderstanding of addiction, stigma means that many people will not seek treatment because they are afraid of the consequences.  Addicts are judged as people with weaknesses and character flaws.  Clients who have approached Eden for treatment are often afraid that others in their communities may find out.  They are afraid to claim from medical aid for fear of future stigmatisation.  They are afraid to speak up, to ask for help.  Addicts often see themselves as morally flawed and the shame they experience prevents them from finding the right treatment.  Employers can be helpful to the process of recovery, but they can be just as judgemental.

Need more information?  Call us 011 244 9916 or on our emergency number 060 344 7808.


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