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Do You Have to Hit Rock Bottom to Quit?

One of the common myths about addiction is that you have to hit rock bottom before you’re ready to quit. This idea is not only false, but it’s also counterproductive. There’s no limit to the possible downside of addiction. If everyone had to hit “rock bottom,” no one would recover.

Everyone has a different story when it comes to addiction. Some addictions develop quickly; others take years. Some people start off in a bad situation that addiction only makes worse; others have enough cushion that it takes a little while before their addiction has obvious consequences. Everyone has a different different standards for life.

As a result, “rock bottom” is too subjective to mean anything. One person’s “rock bottom” is another person’s “pretty good.” People usually decide to get help whenever they realize they’ve crossed a line in their own mind. This depends on your specific values. Maybe you value your family’s happiness and something happens to make you realize your drinking is destroying that. That might be enough to make you decide to get help. It might not look like “rock bottom” to an outsider, but it’s enough.

The sooner you get help, the better. Hardly anyone thinks he might have a problem with drugs or alcohol unless he actually does have a problem. No treatment center or 12 Step group will say, “You call that a problem? Come back when you’ve hit bottom.” If you want to quit but can’t, then it’s time to seek help. The longer you wait, the harder it will be to quit. The severity of withdrawal largely depends on how long and how heavily you used. Also, the longer you use, the more it becomes part of your life. The longer you live with addiction, the harder it is to quit. On the other hand, if you get help at the first sign of a problem, you can spare yourself a lot of pain.

The grain of truth to the “rock bottom” myth is that you can’t make someone get sober if he’s not ready. Families often carry a lot of guilt and frustration that a loved one won’t quit using and well-meaning friends say he has to hit bottom first. Well, that’s true in that he won’t quit until he sees a good enough reason. You can’t make him get sober, but you can make a concerted effort to show him some good enough reasons to quit.

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, don’t wait for “rock bottom” because that might be too late. Gardens Wellness Center can help you detox safely and decide on a treatment strategy. Call us today at 844-325-9168 or email us at to learn more.