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What Does Hitting 'Rock Bottom' Mean?

The definition of “rock bottom” is interpreted in many ways; however, the implication is very negative. AA made the phrase “hitting rock bottom” a very popular phrase. The implication is that people make a conscious choice to choose and remain under the weight of substance use disorder (SUD) or mental illness because they lack the will, strength, and moral fiber to stop. People can seek treatment for their SUD or mental illness before the potential adverse effects of disease cost them things or people that are important to them. 

Why Is “Rock Bottom” Thinking Dangerous?

  • “Rock bottom” thinking assumes that individuals will be resistant to help unless their lives implode. However, this is false; people should seek help when they suspect their mental health or substance use is interfering with their quality of life. 
  • “Rock bottom” thinking can be the rationale behind codependency or an inclination to avoid the topic of recovery. When it comes to someone using, just because they have not “fallen far enough” does not suggest that their disorder is not severe enough. 
  • “Rock bottom” thinking can relay to someone still using several escapist excuses to keep using, i.e., “I have never gotten arrested,” or “I haven’t lost my family/house/job.”
  • Ignoring loved ones using substances can contribute to overdose or self-harm because not identifying the problem condones destructive behaviors.

Why Is “Rock Bottom” Thinking Simplistic and Overused?

  • “Rock bottom” thinking implies a moral failing, weakness, and a behavioral problem while ignoring the trauma which causes people to abuse substances in the first place.
  • “Rock bottom” thinking ignores the fact that SUD is a true brain disorder complicated by other types of mental illness.
  • SUD is a progressive and potentially fatal illness; it cannot be described accurately by a catchphrase.
  • The idea that individuals cannot help people with SUD until they hit rock bottom is an oversimplified concept.

What Causes People With Active SUD to Not Seek Help?

  • Stigma, being labeled “an addict” rather than being identified as someone with a true illness, is not helpful.
  • Fear, sobriety is hard, and change is very scary
  • Guilt
  • Shame

“Rock bottom” doesn’t even have one definition; it is a fallacy based on blame and is harmful and stigmatizing. The implication that treatment can only happen with someone ready to accept it is false and dangerous. At The Guest House, we understand that substance use disorder is a serious, progressive illness, not a moral failing or behavioral issue. Delaying treatment may cause some very dangerous physical and mental consequences, including death. To learn more, call us today at (855) 483-7800