Rock Bottom: Knowing When to Stop Digging

Addiction is a non-discriminating disease of the brain. Individuals of any age, ethnicity, and socioeconomic level can develop and suffer from a substance abuse disorder. As a potentially fatal affliction, addiction doesn’t care about an individual’s aspirations and goals, whether they have a family to care for or whether they’re the CEO of a Fortune 500 company. When an individual struggles with a physical dependency and a substance abuse disorder, it not only costs them their physical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual health, but also their financial stability, independence, and many of the relationships that had been important to them.

Before we had the benefit of having a wealth of addiction research from which we could learn about this chronic disease, it was commonly thought that individuals in active addiction were merely bad people: selfish, egotistical, irresponsible, and of weak will and character. As a result, many laws were put into place that offered only punitive treatments for addicted people, which meant that instead of receiving treatment for addiction that allowed these individuals to recover, they were punished for their disease in the hopes that it would discourage them from continuing with their addictions.

However, the problem with this punitive model is that it assumed addiction was a behavioral problem that was more like a crime than anything else. Legal repercussions covered the consequences of individuals’ behaviors that occurred in the name of their dependencies, but it soon became apparent that many of these individuals returned to substance abuse once they’d fulfilled their sentences.

Taking punitive action against people who struggle with addiction isn’t the only common fallacy when it comes to addressing substance abuse. The expression “hitting rock bottom” is commonly used to refer to when an addicted person reaches a low point in life that is a direct result of their addiction. We have come to better understand addiction as a chronic illness, but many have held onto the assumption that before an addicted person can really decide to get sober and choose to receive addiction treatment, the person must hit rock bottom first.

This line of thinking narrowly defines the parameters of what it means to hit rock bottom. It encourages the notion that an addicted person couldn’t possibly begin to recover from substance abuse until they’ve become jobless, homeless, financially destitute, and rejected by family and friends. “Rock bottom” in this sense is when a person has reached a point in life in which they just couldn’t possibly bear any additional hardships related to their addiction. However, “rock bottom” is different for each person who experiences it.

Rock Bottom: The End of the Downward Spiral

Everyone has things they could lose, whether it be a job, a family, a home, a car, friends, family heirlooms, and so on. Identifying what rock bottom looks like for a person operates on the principle that the longer an individual remains in active addiction, the more harm, damage, or destruction the addiction will have on the person’s life. Grappling with addiction is often compared to being in a downward spiral during which an individual’s thought patterns, having been warped and distorted by addiction, lead him or her to a variety of unfortunate situations.

These can include committing crimes, lying and stealing from loved ones, selling valuable belongings to obtain money to fund their addiction, losing jobs and other opportunities, ending up with a criminal record that will affect future opportunities, putting loved ones in danger, and so on. The phrase “hitting rock bottom” is used to refer to the point in which an addicted person has reached such a low point in life that he or she has nothing left to lose. From this point, the only place left to go is up.

How Do You Know When You’ve Hit Rock Bottom?

The extent to which an individual has a choice in their rock bottom is often overlooked, especially by those individuals who the person in active addiction may know. Many assume that before one is ready to receive help and treatment for a substance use disorder, the person must reach this ultimate low point in their life so that can realize they’ve reached a point when they must stop digging and climb out of their hole if they want to live. However, each person has a choice, and one’s “rock bottom” can happen at any time.

When an individual develops an addiction, they begin by trying to manage their dependency so that it doesn’t cost them anything. You’ve likely heard the expression “functioning alcoholic” or “functioning addict” to refer to individuals who suffer from active addiction but whose lives don’t appear, at least at a glance, to have been damaged by their substance abuse disorder.

Despite the myth that a select few can prevent addiction from causing hardships, the reality of this situation is that they’ve merely been able to delay what is ultimately inevitable. As an individual continues to live in active addiction, he or she will experience hardships and begin losing things as a result. As addiction progresses over time, even “functioning” addicted people will become less and less functional as their substance abuse disorder triggers the downward spiral.

One of the most challenging things a person in active addiction will ever do is decide that it’s time to begin the journey of recovery. As a disease, addiction protects itself by making it exceedingly difficult for people in this position to realize that they no longer want to live in the throes of dependency. Each time an addicted person digs the hole a little deeper, it is an opportunity to decide that enough is enough and begin the rehabilitation process at a professional facility.

Rock bottom isn’t a universal state. Instead, it is determined by each person on an individual basis. It essentially comes down to this: How much more does the individual want to lose before they decide that the cost of addiction is too high?

Recover from Addiction Today

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, Maryland House Detox is here to help. We have a team of knowledgeable, caring recovery specialists that have helped many people begin the journey of recovery. Don’t wait—call us today at 888-263-0631 or connect with us online.

5 Common Drug Rehab Fears

Just as the journey of addiction varies for different people, so does the journey to recovery. Some of the fears people with addiction have are similar or the same, and those fears often keep them from getting the help they need. Here are five common drug rehab fears people have that make them avoid or reject the recovery process when they know they want or need addiction treatment.

Fear: Rehab Is a Prison

Most people with addiction equate substance abuse with their freedom and independence. Although they have become enslaved to mind-altering substances, the substance abuse behavior was initially a conscious and willful choice.

Despite the development of chemical dependence, most people continue to equate their substance abuse with personal choice. And if substance abuse makes them feel free, then checking into a rehab to get clean would make them feel as if they are losing their freedom and ability to choose for themselves. Moreover, they also may compare inpatient or residential facilities to jail or prison as patients are usually required to remain on-site for the duration of their treatment programs.

To someone who has spent years or even decades exploiting their freedom to get high, the prospect of living in drug rehab for a period that can last several months can feel like a prison sentence. Fortunately, once people in recovery get torehab, they typically find it’s not like what they had expected; this is especially the case when it comes to luxury facilities. Most drug and alcohol addiction treatment centers want to make their clients as comfortable as possible as they work on optimizing their mental and physical health.

Fear: Drug Withdrawal & Detoxification

Of the numerous reasons people often give for delaying or avoiding recovery, fear of withdrawal is the most common. Imminent withdrawal is an ever-present force for people who use. If a person can’t get the next dose of alcohol or drugs, they can expect to experience painful withdrawal symptoms. It’s this fear that prolongs active addiction as each dose is really just a means of postponing withdrawal. As such, many people fear recovering in an alcohol or drug rehab as they know they will be required to face and overcome drug or alcohol withdrawal. However, most aren’t aware of the care they receive during the medical detoxification process. Detox treatment is intended to make recovering substance users as comfortable as possible while overcoming the physical aspects of chemical dependency.

Fear: Dealing with Addiction Stigma

People who are battling drug or alcohol dependence are notoriously secretive. Before becoming addicted to alcohol or drugs, substance abusers keep the escalation of their growing habits a secret from their loved ones. As these habits develop into addiction, they may begin to feel shame and guilt; despite knowing the dangers of substance abuse, most individuals are still surprised when they become addicted.

When it comes to the prospect of recovery, they’re fearful because recovery could lead to dealing with addiction stigma, which is a set of negative thoughts and views associated with substance abuse and addiction. Instead of seeing addiction as a disease, or even a treatable illness, social stigmas attached to addiction often promote the perception that substance abusers choose to continue harmful use despite the consequences.

Such a view, however, is often inaccurate and harmful in many cases and can lead to users to view their condition through a narrow lens that makes them feel rejected and ridiculed. These views also don’t encourage them to seek the treatment they need.

Because of this, some people who know they need recovery services may reject them because they think the recovery process will result in widespread stigmatization.

Fear: Confrontational Treatment & Therapy

In addition to fearing that recovery will be like a prison, people with addiction challenges often mistakenly believe rehab treatments and therapies are confrontational, and such practices will put them on the spot. In short, they worry that therapy means they will be aggressively confronted about their substance abuse and the mistakes they made while under the influence of addictive substances. Unfortunately, many in this situation don’t know that addiction counselors and therapists are compassionate, sympathetic, and empathetic individuals who want to help people overcome a substance abuse problem with the appropriate program.

Fear: Sobriety & Relapse

Active addiction involves very little pressure. With an addiction already underway, there’s really no way the situation can get much worse, which can make people with addiction feel they have nothing left to lose. While this might seem like a low point, this feeling can be liberating to an extent. However, with recovery and sobriety come the responsibility and pressure to sustain one’s abstinence from substance abuse. After achieving sobriety and completing an addiction treatment program, it’s up to people in recovery to maintain it. As such, some people fear the recovery process because of the pressure that will come with having regained their health, sobriety, and independence. Fortunately, these drug rehab fears can be worked out. It becomes easier to remain sober over time. The support of loved ones combined with the expertise of counselors and therapists help to reinforce one’s newfound sobriety.

Struggling with Addiction? Call Us Today

Much like the development of an addiction, the recovery process is different for everyone. The road to healing from substance abuse often starts with substance abuse treatment at a professional drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility. At Maryland House Detox, we help people age 18 and older begin the recovery process. Our services include a clinical evaluation and medical detox, a critical first step in working toward lasting sobriety.

If you or someone you love is suffering would benefit from quality addiction recovery, Maryland House Detox can help you. Give us a call toll-free at 888-263-0631 and speak to one of our representatives or connect with us online to learn more about your recovery options.

How Today’s Opioid Crisis Is Similar to the Crack Cocaine Epidemic of 1980s

The current opioid crisis in the U.S. has been called a national public health emergency and the deadliest drug crisis in the nation’s history. Thousands of opioid-related overdose deaths have made law and health authorities stand up and take notice, and the death toll continues to rise.

“More than 64,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2016, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and nearly two-thirds of these deaths (66 percent) involved a prescription or illicit opioid. In 2017, the numbers were even worse. An estimated 72,000 people in the U.S. died by drug overdose, which reflects a record rise of 10 percent,” The New York Times reports.

While this is hardly America’s first drug epidemic, it is one that’s gotten attention for reasons that have little to do with the unprecedented numbers of people dying. Those reasons involve race and social status.

Recent research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine reports that the rate of opioid-related overdose deaths among non-Hispanic white Americans is comparable to the rate of cocaine-related overdose deaths among African Americans. A news release about the research says, “While strategies to address prescription opioid and heroin overdoses remain critical for all racial/ethnic groups, prevention efforts focused on reducing cocaine-related deaths among the non-Hispanic black population are also needed.”

Though all racial and ethnic groups struggle with overdose, as this news release says, the responses they receive from public health and law enforcement officials are not the same, some say, particularly when it comes to white people and black people.

This criticism is not new. This view comes up again and again when the conversation turns to how the crack cocaine epidemic of the 1980s was handled versus today’s opioid crisis, which largely affects a significant number of non-African-Americans.

The disparities in response remain a sore spot. A headline on a recent PBS NewsHour report perhaps sums up many people’s thoughts on the issue: “There was no wave of compassion when addicts were hooked on crack.”

The crack cocaine epidemic of the 1980s and 1990s ravished communities, destroyed lives, and put many on the path to an uncertain future. The absence of a strong public health response to crack use and addiction of that era has left many people in those communities numb and unsympathetic to the fact that today’s drug overdoses have now killed more people than car crashes, guns, and the peak period of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

The Introduction of Crack Cocaine and the Aftermath

The heroin epidemic that emerged in the 1960s started to fade in the late 1970s, but the use of cocaine became popular soon after. However, a surplus of cocaine in the U.S. meant falling prices for drug dealers, so they started to make a solid rock form of the drug that was mixed with ingredients such as baking soda or ammonia.

The new product could be broken into small chunks and smoked with a glass hand pipe or water pipe. The drug was called crack cocaine, a cheaper, highly addictive version of cocaine that is easy to make and easy for anyone to obtain, especially people who couldn’t afford the more expensive option.

By the time the 1980s and 1990s arrived, crack cocaine use had reached epidemic levels in largely black American communities in major U.S. cities and urban areas where crime and violence were widespread. As a Vox article notes, there were thousands of overdoses every year as a result. There also were “thousands more murders associated with the drug trade at the time,” the site writes. Instead of treating it as the public health emergency that it was, more laws were passed to fight the “war on drugs.”

Having an addiction was criminalized, observers say, and drug users and drug dealers were met with arrests and harsh prison sentences instead of compassion and understanding. This is also the era that introduced the terms “crackhead” and “crack baby,” furthering a negative view of people who struggled with drug dependence and addiction.

The crack cocaine epidemic started to dissipate by the late 1990s, but that’s about the time doctors started to prescribe prescription opioid medications to treat people with pain conditions. Many point to that time as the beginning of the opioid crisis we have today.

What Can Be Learned from Both Epidemics?

While the disparity in responses to both health issues is widely recognized, there are similarities between the two events. Some even say today’s opioid crisis has its roots in the crack cocaine epidemic.

As we turn our attention to the future, what can be learned from the crack cocaine epidemic of the 1980s and 1990s and today’s opioid emergency?

Lesson 1 – Perception of addiction needs to change.

As the crack cocaine epidemic showed us, ostracizing people with addiction to get them to stop using does not work. Stigmatizing people with addiction does little to help them, and it may even discourage them from seeking treatment. Addiction has slowly gained acceptance as a medical condition overall, regardless of race and economic status. The stigma attached to addiction is slowly changing, too, in the public eye as well as in today’s criminal justice system.

Lesson 2 – Criminalizing addiction doesn’t work.

Linking addiction to crime and arresting people with substance abuse issues haven’t worked in the past. Acknowledging it as a public health issue and treating it as such can help change how addiction is viewed. It also may get more people to consider getting help.

“We cannot arrest our way out of the heroin and opioid addiction crisis,” said Brian Moran, Virginia’s secretary of public safety and homeland security, said at a recent federal hearing, CBS News reports.

Lesson 3 – Effective policies are needed to combat drug abuse and addiction.

Drug epidemics of yesterday and today also are similar in that they implore the nation’s leaders to create improved policies that address the use of controlled substances and the effects of drug abuse.

“With overdose rates for opioid-addicted whites and cocaine-addicted African Americans now at comparable rates, policymakers are faced with a chance to re-examine the social and cultural contours of U.S. drug policy,” Jared Keller of Pacific Magazinewrites. “Whether an administration built on law and order chooses to actually do something about it is another matter entirely.”

Keller highlights that 40 states and the District of Columbia have adopted “Good Samaritan” measures that offer immunity from arrest “when a person who is either experiencing an opiate-related overdose or observing one calls 911 for assistance or seeks medical attention,” so that’s a start.

Still a Long Way to Go

Reining in the nation’s current drug overdose problem will not be easy. According to a CBS Newsarticle, U.S. “health officials are fighting the current epidemic on three fronts: preventing overdose deaths, helping people recover from addiction, and preventing new addictions.”

With data indicating a downward trend in opioid misuse in adults younger than age 50, perhaps there’s some encouraging news on the first front, the article says. But on the other two fronts, the nation is still struggling to get a handle on matters despite an increase in awareness and funding for programs.

According to the article, “Deaths are still rising, and University of Pittsburgh researchers estimate as many as 300,000 will die from overdoses over the next five years.”

The lingering lesson from the crack cocaine crisis of the 1980s and ‘90s may be that immediate action and adequate response should be the goal.

“If the U.S. had responded to this crisis by investing in drug addiction treatment, there would be an infrastructure for dealing with such a crisis that could have endured to this day,” Vox reporter German Lopez, notes in the article titled, “The deadliness of the opioid epidemic has roots in America’s failed response to crack.”

“This may have prevented one of the biggest challenges in the current opioid crisis — that only about 10 percent of people with a drug use disorder get specialty treatment, according to a 2016 report from the surgeon general.”

Start Addiction Recovery Today

As the saying goes, those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it. The lessons of widespread drug problems may change players, but the dangerous game of addiction remains the same no matter who’s playing it. Maryland House Detox understands addiction recovery, and we know how tough it can be to break the cycle.

If you or someone you know needs help with professional help to end substance abuse, give us a call at 855-969-8748 now. From detox to aftercare, we view the entire process as a critical part of recovery from substance abuse and addiction.

Maryland House offers a 24-hour medically monitored drug rehabilitation program that can help you or your loved one recover from addiction. When you call, we’ll talk with you about your situation, and you can ask us questions about our program and services.