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Finding the Silver Lining When You Hit Rock Bottom

Although it isn’t necessary to hit rock bottom to be successful in substance abuse recovery, rock bottom is what forces some people to break through denial, recognize their addiction, and finally ask for help. No matter how low your life has become, there are silver linings to any situation, and you can use these to fuel your recovery efforts. You can always take comfort from knowing that the only place to go from here is up; life is only going to get better from now on.

Signs You’ve Hit Rock Bottom

  • You spend all your time and energy on getting, using, or dealing with the aftermath of using drugs or alcohol, so that your entire life revolves around addiction.
  • You are physically and/or mentally ill as a result of your substance use, and yet you find yourself unable to quit using on your own.
  • You can’t manage to stay in school and/or find or keep a job.
  • You have to rely on friends and family for food and shelter, or you are currently homeless.
  • Your substance use has ruined relationships with friends, family members, and/or romantic partners.
  • You are in serious legal or financial trouble due to substance use.
  • You feel worthless.
  • You no longer recognize yourself.
  • You have lost hope for the future.

Finding the Silver Lining

You’re not alone

Over 20 million Americans struggle with addiction, which means you are far from alone in the challenge of having hit rock bottom. Entering into addiction treatment will allow you to connect to a recovery community that will not only help you learn to overcome addiction, but will also enrich your life, giving you a sense of belonging and valuable sober social connections. This community will be vital to you as you pick yourself up from rock bottom and start creating a whole new sober life.

There is no place to go now but up

hit rock bottom

Addiction recovery is possible; get help today!

Addiction can turn your life into a downward spiral where it starts to feel like everything you touch falls apart. You start living with a sense of dread that makes you afraid of whatever might happen next, and you realize you’ve become a person that you no longer know and don’t like at all. This constant state of darkness is difficult, but it is also only temporary. The beautiful benefit of having hit rock bottom is recognizing that you have nothing left to lose, and life can only get brighter and better from here. In fact, any effort you make will have a positive impact on your quality of life, and the more you continue to try, the more improvements and growth you’ll encounter.

Consider it a learning experience

Once addiction has made you hit rock bottom and you finally turn to substance abuse recovery, you can start the process of looking back on your life and recognizing all the problematic ways of thinking and acting that tore apart your life and brought you so low. Counselors will help you with this process, and with learning new ways of thinking and acting. The other people you meet in substance abuse recovery will also help you recognize and grow from your mistakes. Group therapy and 12-step meetings are wonderful places to learn from other people’s experiences and get a clearer perspective on your own life. Giving and receiving support and feedback create strong social connections that will fuel your growth.

You can start over

Addiction causes you to be controlled by a compulsive need for drugs and alcohol. This turns you into a different and unlikeable person, because you are no longer in control of yourself; addiction is the one making all the calls. Substance abuse recovery is an opportunity to reclaim the person you used to be and take back control of your life. Now is the time to start becoming someone that you like and can even be proud of. For many people, this process is the most important part of their recovery journey.

To hit rock bottom is awful, but it is also very freeing. You have nothing keeping you locked into a particular way of life anymore. Now you’ll begin the grand adventure of building a brand-new life from the ground up. The possibilities are endless. Start by dreaming, then work on goal setting and planning. Keep moving forward, and one day you’ll be someone new, living a brand-new life that you created for yourself—with help, of course. You don’t have to complete this transformation on your own; there are plenty of people, professional and otherwise, who can help you get there.

Some people feel like there is a point in life when it is too late to start over, but that is entirely untrue. As long as you are still alive, you can benefit from changes and new beginnings. There is a saying that the best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago, but the second-best time is now. If you start your substance abuse recovery now, you will have the rest of your life to watch yourself grow.

Where to Go from Here

Recognize what needs to change

After you hit rock bottom, start substance abuse recovery, and develop a new perspective on your life with the help of counselors and other people in treatment, you will be able to recognize what needs to change in your life before you can overcome addiction. Attending and participating in counseling sessions is crucial for this process, as is interacting with other people in recovery. Sometimes we aren’t able to fully recognize what is wrong—or right—with ourselves and our choices until we witness the experiences of someone else in a similar situation. Even the practice of listening to other people tell their stories can make you more receptive to new ideas and new perspectives. Seeing the success of others can be inspiring and motivating.

Overcoming addiction isn’t just about quitting drugs or alcohol and staying sober. It is about a whole life transformation that makes substance abuse recovery feel like a natural choice. Recovery is the process of making a better, more fulfilling life that does not demand addictive substances the way your old life did. To complete this transformation, staying sober and getting counseling is essential, but so are practical life changes that will improve your day to day experience.

Start by identifying the problem, then come up with a solution:

  • If you have damaged relationships with people who mean a lot to you, start making amends and rebuilding trust. Family counseling is great for this, because it gives you a safe space and a guide who can facilitate the process and teach you better ways of communicating with each other.
  • If you don’t have a safe and stable place to live, get help from counselors, community programs, or friends and family to figure out a living situation that will support substance abuse recovery. You may want to move into a sober living community for a while before you transition into fully independent living.
  • If you feel unqualified for the kind of work you wish you were doing, go back to school or seek out a vocational training program that will get you where you want to go.

These and other practical life changes may not always be easy, but they are worth every bit of effort you put into them—besides, you will be stunned by all the extra time and energy you will have after overcoming addiction. Channeling that time and energy into something productive will accomplish amazing things.

Take it one day at a time

We all know the expression, because it’s true. The best way of overcoming addiction is to take it one day at a time. It’s intimidating to think about a whole life without drugs or alcohol, so think about the next day instead. You may not be able to handle the idea of staying substance free forever, but you can probably feel confident about the next few hours. Keep your focus on chunks of time that are manageable for you. Some days those chunks will only be five minutes, but some days they’ll be a week or more. Remember that no matter what is happening, the time is always now. You can only ever exist in the present moment.

Setting big goals and making long-term plans are great, and are very necessary for substance abuse recovery, but you need to break them down into smaller steps that you can tackle one by one. You can’t change your whole life all at once, but there are many things you can do today that will foster positive growth and get you closer to the overall transformation you want. Handle each day as it comes, and before you know it, you will have a week, month, or year of sobriety under your belt, and a happier, healthier life to live.

Seek professional help

You shouldn’t try to confront a serious addiction all alone. You need professionals with the training, experience, and resources to guide you through substance abuse recovery.

Professional addiction treatment will usually begin with detoxification, or “detox,” which means you quit using drugs or alcohol, and your body begins eliminating addictive chemicals from your system and healing from the physical dependency aspect of addiction. With detox comes withdrawal symptoms, which will vary in type and intensity depending upon what substance or substances you used, how much you used, and how long you have been addicted. Your withdrawal experience will also depend upon the state of your physical and mental health. Any co-occurring mental health disorders or comorbid medical conditions will alter your experience and require additional treatment interventions.

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You may choose to undergo a natural detox, which means you will quit drugs or alcohol cold turkey and cope with withdrawal symptoms using supplements, exercise, acupuncture, or any other non-pharmaceutical therapy that relieves symptoms and promotes healing. If your addiction is more severe, or if you are addicted a substance with a dangerous withdrawal syndrome or a particularly high relapse rate, you will be better off with a medical detox. A medically-assisted detox will provide you with prescription medications to counteract withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Taking medications in recovery does not mean trading one addiction for another. Some medications are necessary for your health, and some are temporary solutions that will keep you focused and stable while you undertake counseling and make the changes necessary to support long-term recovery. When you’re ready, you can wean yourself off these medications with a doctor’s supervision.

Even if you do choose to undergo a natural detox, doing so at a medical facility will make sure that you are safe no matter what kinds of health complications develop as a result of withdrawal. There are many withdrawal symptoms that can create more serious problems, such as vomiting or diarrhea that may lead to dehydration, which can then lead to heart irregularities and organ damage. Inpatient rehab, which provides a 24/7 treatment environment, is an especially effective way to experience a medical detox, both for how it safeguards your health, as well as how it keeps you protected from the risk of relapse while you intensively work on overcoming addiction.

After detox, addiction treatment should continue with counseling and behavioral interventions that will allow you to work through the root causes of your substance use and identify the practical steps you need to take so that you can continue to live without drugs or alcohol while maintaining and improving your progress in substance abuse recovery.

Begin Your Recovery Today

If you have hit rock bottom, you need professional addiction treatment. To find the right kind of treatment for your needs, consult our treatment guide or call 800-996-6135(Who Answers?) . Now is the time to begin a new way of life.

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