True recovery from addiction means more than simply abstaining from drugs or alcohol. True recovery means identifying, understanding and then relinquishing the deeply ingrained patterns of thought that sustain an individuals’ endless hunger and search for substances.Substance use disorder involves a distortion in one’s perception of reality.Often some major life event can make the person suffering with substance use disorder question the validity of his or her perceptions. Often this leads to the decision to enter substance abuse treatment. The individual realizes that he /she has lost control of their substance use and comes to the point where substance use no longer has the appeal it once had, the individual becomes tired and recognizes the devastation addiction has caused. This realization is often referred to as rock bottom.
Hitting bottom means different things to different people. Initially alcohol, opioids, cocaine, or other mind-altering chemicals provided some measure of relief from discomfort, whether this is relief from anxiety, depression, loneliness, self-consciousness, or some form of deeper trauma that affects many individuals. However, somewhere along the line substance use progressed to substance abuse and then to addiction. Substance use in the beginning served as a simple temporary diversion from life’s strugglesbut gradually progressed to assuming a central place in a person’s life. Substance abuse causes the person to become increasingly isolated and dependent on the external effects of drugs or alcohol to make them feel like they fit into a world that for them is full of fear and anxiety.
Substance abuse becomes the new normal, the effects on one’s life is initially minimal, but with increasing use and isolation plus a greater reliance on the soothing anesthetizing qualities of the chemicals, the important things in one’s life slip away. The focus becomes the addiction and the individual realizes what rock bottom really is.
Abstinence in the beginning is a struggle for most people suffering with substance abuse disorder and can cause a great deal of stress on the individual and his/her loved ones. As addiction worsens people are often reluctant to face this distress and give up the substance that soothes them. Only a change in perception about the roots of their own substance abuse can trigger lasting change. Often at this point individuals surrender and reach out for help. They may enter inpatient addiction rehabilitation and work with professionals who can help guide them through those frightening early days of recovery and the inevitable withdrawal that accompanies ceasing substance abuse. People learn to see that the consequences of their chemical use is a greater distress than the discomfort of not using.
In addiction treatment individuals learn that the misery one experiences with their addiction exceeds whatever relief the chemical provides. Substance use no longer provides the escape from life that the user seeks. It is through this realization the person’s perception of what is a greater or lesser distress changes. This is when Rock Bottom occurs. This is when addiction rehabilitation treatment can have the greatest impact on the individual who chooses to enter treatment