There’s a certain accepted truth regarding those suffering from drug and alcohol addiction: they have to hit rock bottom before they can begin to get better.

The theory is this: in order to acquire the mental state necessary to make real change in their lives, addicts have to be given the gift of desperation, and that gift is only gained when the addict or alcoholic has gone as far down the ladder as they can handle. In many cases, this axiom has proven true. But does it have to be this way?

“Contrary to popular belief, you can get off the elevator at any floor you like,” says Lisa Colacurcio Cohan, Business Development Manager at Cornerstone Recovery Center. “You don’t HAVE to ride it all the way down.”

Cutting the “Low Bottom” Off at the Pass

The book Alcoholics Anonymous–nicknamed The Big Book–has long been the manual of recovering addicts and alcoholics worldwide since its publication in the late 1930s. Many people mistakenly believe that, in that book, the writers (all low bottom alcoholics themselves) recommend hitting rock bottom before recovery can take root. But this is not necessarily the case.

From chapter two: “Though there is no way of proving it, we believe that early in our drinking careers most of us could have stopped drinking. But the difficulty is that few alcoholics have enough desire to stop while there is yet time.”

The question then becomes: how does an addict stop the cycle and seek addiction treatment before it’s too late?

There’s no easy answer to that question, but gaining knowledge is a good place to start. And the fact is, waiting for an addict or alcoholic to hit rock bottom can be a dangerous proposition, because no two “rock bottoms” are identical.

For high-bottom alcoholics, rock bottom might be the loss of a job or the end of a treasured relationship, which was clearly a direct result of their drinking. However, few are in this class.

Some addicts hit rock bottom while strapped to a stretcher inside a mental hospital. Others find it in a jail cell. Many have received news of a medical condition, which will result in certain death if the drinking or drug use continues. And most unfortunate of all, some people hit rock bottom only when they pass away from their disease.

These scenarios are very real and all too common. Why would anyone wait until this happens? The truth is, they don’t have to.

Knowledge is Power

For many alcoholics and drug addicts, a no-nonsense assessment of their situation, coupled with a comprehensive program of addiction treatment in a recovery center, can make all the difference in the world. They may, for the first time in their lives, hear from an addiction specialist that they have a progressive illness, which will continue to get worse over time, never better. They will also hear stories from other addicts that will sound much like their own story – they will know they are not alone and that the world is full of people just like themselves.

Even if the addict doesn’t get sober right away–which can be the case, because addiction is a powerful and baffling disease–getting addiction treatment can plant a seed in a person’s mind. That seed can grow into a certain type of consciousness that stays with the addict and eventually leads to recovery.

In other words, early treatment instills the hope and knowledge that recovery is possible. It can stop an addict from descending into hitting a particularly low rock bottom.

New York Times bestseller David Sheff, who wrote the moving book Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction, was recently quoted in a recent Huffington Post article:

“Waiting for someone to hit rock bottom is a dangerous concept,” said Sheff. “Experts advise parents of it, but the reality is that studies show people who are coerced into treatment by way of their parents or even the legal system have an equal chance of doing well as those who ‘choose’ to be there.”

Sheff believes his own son, who was featured in his book, would not be alive today had he waited to hit rock bottom and get sober on his own.

The most important thing to remember is that getting addiction treatment in a rehab center such as Cornerstone Recovery Center – one that has medical personnel and a high ratio of recovery specialists to patients – can only be a good decision. Many addicts get sober after one visit; for others, it may be a first step in avoiding a dangerous rock bottom, eventually leading to recovery.

If you or someone you know is in need of addiction treatment, do not hesitate to seek help from a drug treatment center. Call Cornerstone Recovery Center at 954-271-2846 or contact us online. In addition to Ft. Lauderdale and the general South Florida area, we treat patients from many parts of the Northeast, including New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, addicted to drugs and alcohol.