“We’re just waiting for her to hit rock bottom.” “I thought this would have been rock bottom for him, but I guess it’s not.” Many families wait, hope and pray for their addicted loved one to hit the elusive “rock bottom”; they are convinced that an all-time low will mark the beginning of lasting recovery. For many others, however, rock bottom is a myth that comes with a trap door. While families often feel helpless as they wait for their loved one to ask for help or appear “ready” for treatment, there is a healthier option available.
Creating leverage to encourage a loved one to seek treatment is often the most effective means in getting him or her into treatment. Leverage is established through setting boundaries and communicating concern. Some families easily identify their leverage based upon the addict’s circumstances, while others have a more difficult time recognizing their influence. Appropriate boundary setting can include statements like, “I love you, but you can no longer live in my home and use substances. I am more than willing to offer support as you seek treatment.” By not allowing the loved one to live in their home, while also showing support during the process of finding treatment, families effectively “raise the bottom” instead of waiting for him or her to hit rock bottom.
For some families, raising the bottom can be challenging or seemingly impossible. Depending on a loved one’s life circumstance, such as financial independence, or if family members disagree on appropriate boundaries, creating leverage can prove to be difficult. The role of a professional interventionist is to help individuals become willing to seek treatment. This often makes the stress and confusion of how to proceed more manageable for family members, particularly when there is a difference of opinion about boundaries.
Once families decide to take a proactive approach in seeking help for their addicted loved one, it is important not to sabotage the urgency of this process. Often, families unknowingly “lower the bottom” by bargaining or making accommodations in an effort to keep the peace. When families embark on their own recovery journey, they become more willing to take direction from professionals who are trained in addiction, join a support group, and/or seek individual and family counseling. Then, waiting for the elusive “rock bottom” diminishes and the real discussion about “raising the bottom” takes place.
Susan Paa, LCSW earned her master’s degree in Social Work with an emphasis on children and families from the University of Texas at Arlington. Prior to earning her master’s degree, she interned at a recovery program for homeless individuals. Susan has worked in the areas of early childhood intervention, foster care and adoption. Through working with parents who had substance abuse issues and their children, Susan developed a passion for individuals seeking recovery and their families. Susan joined MARR as an admissions coordinator in 2009. In 2015, she became the Director of Admissions.