The rise of intervention-based reality TV has created a false notion in the realm of substance use disorders and recovery: that a person must reach a “bottom” or the end of the road before they are willing to get sober. While it’s true that family members and loved ones should set and hold onto healthy boundaries when it comes to someone struggling with a substance use disorder, this idea is false. Of course, it is best for someone that struggles with substance use to have the opportunity to experience the result of their actions.
However, recovery is a choice and one that must be made by the individual alone. Even in recovery, there must be an ongoing decision making that takes place, where the person that formerly struggled with substance use makes a choice to take on the sometimes difficult task of staying sober.
The Problem With the Bottom
The issue that arises out of the idea of a “bottom” existing for all of those that suffer from a substance use disorder is that it doesn’t take into account the individual’s experience. There is no need for people to experience harsh consequences should a person decide that they are done not treating the impact a substance use disorder is having on their lives. That is not to say that it won’t be necessary in some cases, however, it creates a negative narrative surrounding the disorder that only continues the stigma surrounding it.
The concept of a bottom, as popularized by pop culture, is a point where someone has lost much of what they hold dear and is left with no other options. While this may be true in some cases, it perpetuates the idea that every person struggling with a substance use disorder is destined to reach this point. There is no qualifier for substance use disorders.
It affects people across all ages, sexes, economic statuses, education levels, and across all social categories. Many that struggle with it are able to function well in the workplace, be integral parts of their families, and respected members of their communities. The choice that is involved with getting sober is that an individual must decide for themselves at what point enough is enough.
They must decide that the price they are paying is too great to continue to avoid seeking help and then continue to make a series of choices that help lead them to recovery. It’s a difficult thing for someone to admit and a humbling experience to ask for help, but well worth it. The narrative created by the concept of hitting a bottom removes this choice from the person that is struggling and it puts the illusion of choice into the hands of their loved ones.
Choosing to Stay Sober
A person must first make the choice to admit they have a problem with substances, choose to seek help, and choose to put their faith in whatever treatment modality they choose, whether it’s treatment, engaging in a 12-Step program, SMART recovery, or otherwise. Once in recovery, making the choice to take whatever actions necessary to maintain their sobriety
becomes a daily action. Some days this choice is harder to make than others. While working through a 12-Step process, some days an individual is tasked with undertakings, such as writing personal inventories or making amends to people they perhaps hoped they would never have to meet with again.
During these more difficult times, it’s not always an easy choice to make. It may feel as if the easier option is to try to stay sober without using the treatment methods that have been working, or even to go back to their former way of life where substances were an acceptable coping mechanism. It takes courage and strength to make the choice to stay sober on these days. Putting one’s recovery first is no simple feat but again, the only person that can make the decision to is the individual.
There are also times in life where making the choice to stay sober or safeguard one’s recovery becomes difficult. An example of a potentially difficult time involves the current federal mandate most of us have been given to social distance and self-quarantine. In-person meetings are shut down and the fellowship and identification that can make recovery feel less daunting are unavailable. Times like these it can be extremely hard to make a decision to take on the extra work needed to maintain recovery on a more individual basis. It can be difficult to find the willingness to adjust to the new “normal” way of doing things and attend meetings online which might feel less personal or familiar.
There is no one that can make the choice to adjust and adapt for their recovery other than the individual themself. While it’s important to ask those that we are close to for their help and their patience while this adjustment takes place, every day the same choice remains to take the actions necessary to maintain recovery with the skills one has been taught. The choice to get sober, the choice to put recovery first, and the decision to learn to adapt as circumstances change are not easy ones to make. However, our own recovery speaks to the value of making these difficult choices each day and remaining sober.
If you’re ready to make the decision to begin your path to recovery, the time to reach out is now. Ashley Addiction Treatment believes that connection is the key to recovery, with treatment options focused on holistic, integrated, and compassionate care. Ashley utilizes a variety of treatment modalities to help aid you in healing. If you would like to speak to someone about our care options, please reach out to us today at 800-799-4673.