Most people have heard the phrase ‘rock bottom’ – the idea that you have to reach a terrible low before it’s possible to break free from addiction. But is this actually true? How much does an addiction need to damage your life or other people’s, in order to admit the problem and seek addiction help? Who can you turn to for help with addictive disorders – including alcohol or drug addiction, sex and love addiction, food addiction and gaming addiction? And why is it so important to get into the habit of asking for help early on in recovery from addiction, to sustain long-term change?
While many people do point to chronic mental or physical health problems, broken relationships or bad life experiences as the major turning point in their addictive cycle, the truth is really very simple. You can ask for and access addiction help whenever you want a better way of life. You don’t have to lose everything or suffer irreparable consequences. In fact, many of our clients arrive in our addiction treatment centres with aspects of their lives still functioning. They have family relationships still intact. They are working in good jobs. They are raising children. They have good friends who wish them the best. In short, they have as much to save as they have to gain in recovery from addiction.
In this sense, the phrase ‘rock bottom’ can be misleading. It suggests that there is no point changing until awful things happen to you. In fact, the best time to ask for help with addiction is the moment you become aware that you have lost the power of choice. This could be in your teens, after a few months with anorexia or bulimia. Or it could be in your eighties after a lifetime of alcohol addiction. Even in the cases where people don’t want to acknowledge their problem, professional addiction interventionists can help to bring about positive change. Essentially, it’s never too early or too late to get addiction help and start your new life in recovery.
For most people who suffer from addictive disorders, there comes a time when an important shift starts to happen. This can take place at any age or stage in one’s addiction, after just one unintended consequence or countless difficulties. It becomes clear that the negative impacts of the addiction outweigh the pleasures or payoffs. This is often most apparent when not taking the drink or drug or not engaging with the addictive behaviour (such as compulsive eating, gambling, gaming or sex and love addiction). The alcohol, drug or compulsive behaviour begins to be far less reliable in producing the desired effect. The high, or the escape from reality, fades much faster – or it feels harder or impossible to reach at all. There may still be some good times but the harms or losses associated with the addiction become more troublesome and painful.
Yet even with this knowledge and a desire to stop, it can still feel impossible to change the destructive addictive pattern.
This is one of the common questions that well-meaning friends, colleagues or relatives may ask – and it can be one of the most frustrating and perplexing questions for an addict to hear, let alone answer. It defies all logic because there’s apparently such a straightforward solution – just stop. When faced with everything that the addiction is costing their loved one, it can seem so obvious to friends and family that quitting immediately is the answer. They believe that everything will be solved once the problem substance or behaviour is removed.
For people in active addiction, however, the prospect of living without the addiction can feel extremely hard, often terrifying. As the known quantity, the addictive patterns feels safer somehow, despite all the evidence that it is causing problems and harms to themselves and others. However dreadful the consequences, facing a life without the addictive substance or behaviour can often feel impossible to contemplate – because it is so completely unknown.
As an addict, it can be one of the loneliest places to find yourself in. You want to stop your addiction because it’s causing you harm, often other people too. But you also have no idea how to stop and achieve lasting change.
The crucial thing to realise at this point is there is no need to face this frightening dilemma alone. In the UK, there are so many great sources of addiction help available – suitable for people from all walks of life with every type and combination of addictions. Furthermore, in the case of physical dependency to alcohol or certain drugs, it can be physically very dangerous to attempt detoxification without medical support. In the case of advanced eating disorders, medical intervention is often advisable too before effective rehabilitation can begin.
There are many types of addiction help available here in the UK and abroad – including residential treatment centres. UKAT offer a wide range of treatment programmes, including medically-managed detoxification through to rehabilitation, secondary treatment and free aftercare. There are also many peer support options available in most towns and cities across the country, to help people sustain their recovery long term.
This is a vital secret to maintaining long-term recovery from addiction – an understanding that challenging times are a feature of most people’s lives, throughout their lives. Help will often be needed to get through rough patches and unforeseen events. Building awareness early on in recovery of whom and how to ask for help is an important skill.
Picking up the phone to a friend or recovery mentor, for example, when you are having strong emotions – this can help change the way you feel in a healthy way, rather than slipping back into active addiction. Speaking to a trusted professional or GP, as soon as mental or physical health problems emerge, can prevent the spiral of negative thinking and unmanageability that often precedes an addiction relapse. Rebuilding family relationships in recovery and where possible sharing your thoughts can help solve problems while they are still fairly easy to sort out. Accessing support groups and free aftercare programmes, such as the one UKAT offer to all our clients, can create a supportive structure, where regular sharing is encouraged.
Asking for addiction help can be life-saving. The isolation that often comes with active addiction can exacerbate problems and make life’s challenges feel impossible to manage. A lifelong commitment to reaching out to others can make the difference at any stage of recovery – whether that’s a day, a month, a year or 40 years in.
To speak in confidence to UKAT about addiction help, call 0808 274 0903, email firstname.lastname@example.org or use the live chat or call back function on our website.