What Makes People Decide To Get Sober (*Hint* It's not hitting bottom!)

Despite what most people think, hitting bottom is not what makes people get sober for good. That's a MYTH. Let me explain why...

Let's first talk about why bottom doesn't make people stop drinking or using. Then let's talk about what does make people want to stop.

The first reason hitting a bottom doesn't help is because when someone hits their bottom it's usually after something terrible has happened. Maybe you get a DUI, or your boyfriend, girlfriend, or spouse threatens to leave. This kind of disruption in your life may make someone do better for a little while. Eventually, they forget about the negative impact on their life and how painful it was, then they slowly slide back into the old behaviors.

What people learn from hitting their bottom is they need to avoid letting that bad thing happen again. They think, okay, this terrible thing happened, that doesn't mean I have to stop doing this addiction. They'll miss the big picture and hyper-focus on not letting that one bad thing happen. Instead of understanding that to not let bad things happen, you have to give up the substances.

A third reason why hitting bottom doesn't work, especially if we're talking about an overdose. An overdose doesn't impact the person the way we think it should because they don't remember it happening. If you were there as a family member and you were a witness to it, it's traumatic for you. You probably can't sleep or function. It's much more traumatic for the people that were there than it is for that person. Speaking of which, if the overdose is an opioid overdose and they got brought back by Narcan, they're going to come back and immediately be in withdrawal. So, that's another reason why hitting that bottom doesn't work.

Most people indeed take a moment to inwardly reflect and think through things after something horrible has happened. Most people that have a substance abuse problem are going to hit a bunch of bottoms. They're going to drag along the bottom.

Let's talk about what does make people change.

What gets people to change is two things:

The first thing is that they get that they can't control the substance use anymore. If you continue the addictive behavior, you're going to continue to hit bottom after bottom. That's one thing that's a big piece of the puzzle. That has to be there when it comes to stopping the addictive behavior.

The second thing that gets them there is that the substance or the addictive behavior stops working for them. Sometimes, it gets to the point where you have to drink to be able to function. You get to the point where the pros don't outweigh the cons anymore. You get to the point where you realize there is no "loophole magic" way for me to get around this system. It takes a long time, sometimes years to come to terms with that fact.

The Takeaway:

The only thing that will get you to accept that fact is going through the trial-and-error process yourself. When you walk away, you tend to stay away because you get it on a deeper level. Most of the time, it's not some horrible crisis event that triggers that. Sometimes a bottom can make some quit for some time, but not until you understand on a deeper level.

When was it that you finally decided enough is enough?

Amber Hollingsworth

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