June 25, 2018

You Don’t Need to Hit Rock Bottom to Recover

Written by Alex Thompson

We sat with St. Christopher’s COO, Brandy Klingman, LMSW, BACS, to get her opinion on this.

Does someone need to hit bottom in order to recover?

We don’t believe that people need to hit rock bottom anymore. The pivotal moment is when they want help. We are seeing that rock bottom is often times death, so we are not wanting someone to hit rock bottom. Even though the patient is not wanting treatment, we do need to do interventions that support treatment and treatment only in sobriety and sobriety only. Think about it like this, if a person has a brain tumor and they don’t know it until the scans etc., they may not even comprehend it because of brain damage. They are not able to make good cognitive and logical decision. The same goes for someone who is using drugs, their brain is damaged, they are making decisions as an addict damaged brain. They are not going to come to you and say that they want help. They are only thinking how to get more drugs and how to stay on drugs as long as possible. They don’t want to do detox, they don’t want to go through the process at all.

Does someone need to be willing to get clean and sober? 

There is not a set time, but you do see that when a person’s brain starts to heal that they start to make healthier decisions. So once things start to be better neurotically, and sometimes that’s months into treatment of sobriety, they are able to see that they may not want to go back into the life they were living. Usually, it’s full of lots of pain. Usually, when someone is living out their addiction they aren’t happy, they are not doing it because they love the drug anymore, they are doing it because they have to survive. So, it’s not a happy drug use anymore. If they get into sobriety, their brains hold onto moments of what life was before drugs and hopefully they have a wonderful view of what recovery could look like. A great life with lots of success and lots of happiness beyond this period of time. That they still have hope in moving forward. I would like to say that if they can clear up around 90 days, they can make better decisions. If your loved one keeps on failing outpatient treatment, then you want to get them somewhere they can live a life of sobriety for 90 days. You don’t want them to keep failing or living the same cycle of 30-day treatments over and over. With that, it adds on a blanket of shame, so we don’t want to keep setting them up for failure.

If you have started off at a lower level of care and it has not worked, then you want to step up. So, let’s say they are doing an outpatient care program, but not maintaining sobriety, they are not making it. We need to increase the treatments, to move towards decreasing symptoms. Or consult with experts or your support system to see if that treatment care plan is right for the person.