Help for Addiction: Signs That Rock Bottom Is Near
But make no mistake. While hitting rock bottom may deliver the message loud and clear, by the time an addict reaches that stage, it may be too late to save them from the worst effects of their prolonged journey through the darkness of chemical dependency. For many addicts and alcoholics, hitting rock bottom could mean losing their families, their careers, their health, their freedom and possibly their lives, and even if they manage to survive, a significant amount of the damage may be irreversible.
As someone who cares, your best course of action is to intervene before the devastation occurs. In other words, take action before your loved one hits rock bottom. Drug and alcohol abuse are stealthy, relentless destroyers of hopes, dreams and futures, and victims of substance use disorders are always better off getting help with addiction sooner rather than later.
When Rock Bottom Approaches, the Time for Action Is Now
Here are some clear signs that could indicate your friend, partner or family member is nearing rock bottom and could use help for addiction immediately:
- Daily activities are organized around drinking or getting high
- They’ve left a string of broken friendships or romantic relationships, and are unable or unwilling to give up drugs or alcohol despite these outcomes
- Drinking or drug use has recently escalated, especially if this occurs following a relapse
- A decline in physical health, especially if the illnesses are drug- or alcohol-related (hepatitis, HIV, liver problems, etc).
- Emotional breakdowns, temper-tantrums or fits of irrational anger, possibly provoked by attempts to discuss the person’s chemical dependency
- Severe financial difficulties directly caused by substance abuse or associated factors
- Frequent expressions of hopelessness, cynicism, fatalism, despair, or talk of suicide
- Symptoms of depression, anxiety disorder or other forms of mental illness that cause additional life complications
Some of these troubling developments are consistent with a drug or alcohol problem that is already spiraling out of control. Others are major red flags, since fledgling addicts and alcoholics will almost inevitably escape into a fog of intoxication when they are overwhelmed by personal hardship.
Is Inpatient Drug Rehab Necessary?
Making the decision to enter residential drug rehab is difficult. It means taking time away from family, work and other obligations. Many times, inpatient addiction treatment is the right answer though. If your loved one is abusing drugs and alcohol, time in residential drug rehab may be necessary. It allows them to be their best self for the personal and professional parts of their lives.
Residential drug rehab gives people space and distance from triggers. It allows them to place all their attention on recovering from addiction. Inpatient addiction treatment is the right decision, especially if your loved one is struggling with these issues:
Heroin and opiate addiction – Opioids are highly addictive drugs. Without residential addiction treatment, drug abusers are at great risk for relapse. Some research finds that almost 90% of people with an opioid addiction relapse within one year. Research also finds that long-term inpatient drug rehab can help prevent relapse.
Alcoholism – Alcohol addiction can be difficult to overcome without professional drug rehab treatment. Alcoholism treatment often begins with medical detox. That’s because alcohol detox can cause dangerous withdrawal symptoms. Residential drug rehab can help people move through detox safely with research-backed medications. Inpatient drug rehab treatment will then help them address the reasons they've abused alcohol. They'll make a plan to prevent relapse.
Polysubstance abuse – If a person is abusing more than one substance, residential drug rehab is the most effective treatment. Drug combinations can cause a difficult detox. This requires specialized care. Studies have shown that alcohol is commonly involved in polysubstance abuse. Alcohol detox can be one of the most dangerous types of withdrawals. Abusing several substances also indicates that an individual may have a severe addiction. Residential treatment provides distance from triggers as people address underlying issues.
Mental health issues – Dual diagnosis makes drug rehab treatment more complicated. Having a dual diagnosis means an individual has underlying mental health disorders like depression or anxiety. Residential drug rehab offers time away from triggers and specialized care. Medical professionals figure out if the mental health disorder is contributing to drug or alcohol abuse. Or perhaps addiction caused changes in the brain that led to psychiatric symptoms. A treatment team can determine if medication is needed.
What to Do When an Addict Is Approaching the Danger Zone
When you suspect someone you care about has been driven to the edge of the precipice by a substance use disorder, you cannot afford to stay on the sidelines praying for a miracle. Whether through an organized intervention or a series of honest, private conversations, you must confront them with the truth and do everything in your power to convince them to seek help for addiction before the clock strikes midnight.
Hitting rock bottom is the final result of a terrifying plunge into the soul’s abyss, and if you have a chance to break your loved one’s fall, you should step in now.
Indiana Prevention Resource Center/University of Indiana: The Myth of Hitting Rock Bottom