Do I Have To Hit Bottom Before I Go To Treatment?

Hitting Rock Bottom

J.K. Rowling, the famous author and creator of the Harry Potter series once said that rock bottom became the foundation upon which she built her life. Rock bottom is a term that is heard often in discussions about addiction and seeking treatment. In the past, it was believed that someone seeking recovery had to “hit rock bottom” before they would truly be willing and able to stay sober. Today, that term is controversial.

In light of the opioid epidemic causing the highest numbers of overdose deaths per year than ever before, there is a debate about how far bottom can go and whether or not it is truly necessary for someone to get there. The reason the rock bottom philosophy used to be so strong is that addiction has a way of convincing people that things aren’t too bad.

No matter how dire the consequences or how sick one would become, how many relationships they would lose or how much their life would fall apart- it could always be worse. Until someone was completely broken and willing to get sober, there wasn’t a chance they would. This is still true for many addicts and alcoholics today who suffer beyond conceivable means before they are willing to give up drugs and alcohol. Other people find they are less willing to suffer.

Their “bottom” might be higher. As soon as they realize they are out of control, they give all of that control up and ask for help. Life may not have fallen apart yet but their spirit has started to unravel enough where they know they need help.

You Can Seek Treatment Before Hitting Rock Bottom

You don’t have to hit bottom before you go to treatment because what you define as bad enough might not seem so bad compared to someone else and that will make it seem less bad for you. What you have to do before treatment is this. First, you have to be done drinking and using. Knowing that you’re done takes a lot of honesty. Too many people go to treatment for others- their parents want them to or their spouse threatens to leave if they don’t.

Yet within the confines of their innermost selves, they know they aren’t going to stay sober because they don’t want to stay sober. It is true- at least some part of you has to want to do it. Treatment isn’t easy and early recovery is challenging. It does get extraordinarily better.

Second, you have to be willing to do the work and go to treatment. Hitting bottom is often a metaphor for becoming willing. A final moment inspires someone to realize they are willing to do whatever it takes to get and stay sober. Without that “bottom” moment people conceptualize, they feel they are not truly willing.

The opposite is true. You can become willing, very willing, to go to treatment and do the work required to stay sober, without hitting any kind of “bottom”.


Any time you’re ready to talk about treatment, we’re ready to listen. Lakehouse Recovery Center offers residential detox and inpatient, intensive outpatient and aftercare. For information, call us today: 877.762.3707


Messages sent through this form are confidential. Required fields are marked with (*).

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.