Should a substance user (and those who care about them) pray for rock bottom? It’s still a common strain of thinking, especially in the United States, that illicit drug & alcohol users have to hit an absolute low point in life before being inspired or motivated enough to change their current pattern of behavior. By adulthood, almost everyone has experienced either 1st or 2nd hand what it is like to see a family member or friend ostracized for their lifestyle choices or habits.
For whichever reason, even though it has become the standard to support & accept LGBTQ+ people, as well as various religions and cultures, there still exists a tangible discriminatory stance against habitual drug users. Such individuals are often cast into the giant red bucket labeled ‘addict’ that everyone is told (often since childhood) to not come near with a ten-foot pole.
Doing otherwise is condemned as blasphemous ‘enabling’ of the person who is struggling with the drug habit. The well-intentioned premise here is that helping or socializing with a drug user (even if they are a family member) is actually just encouraging the person to continue with their substance use.
Instead, we are told, we should adopt a “tough love” approach. This means to give the user the cold shoulder or otherwise punish them until they slam into ‘rock bottom’, where things get so bad that the substance user will have to stop their habit cold-turkey.
Unfortunately, in most cases, this philosophy makes drug users feel further estranged and even less equipped to solve their underlying problems. Instead of alleviating and assisting the individual, society has shunned them and forbade them to have meaningful relationships, self-esteem, or to otherwise reach their potential.
Rather than address the core issues behind their “addiction”, the user now has to fix a destroyed reputation, reinvent their career, and rebuild everything else that was torn down by their social tribe’s rock bottom perspective.
All and all, most drug users develop their habits around deep underlying traumas or problems.
Imagine someone had a chronic problem with compulsively chopping wood. Is the logical solution to dump 20 tons of timber in their backyard, along with a sharp new axe?
Probably not. Then why are we doing exactly this to drug users? If a user has developed a significant habit, then it’s very likely they already have issues. Rock bottom thinking only adds to the heap.
Reach Your Full Potential
Dr. Abraham Maslow was an American psychologist in the 20th century who invented a model known as Maslow’s Hierarchy Of Needs, which ordered human needs according to their importance in attaining one’s full potential (also known as self-actualization).
With each level depending on the prior to it, a high sense of self-esteem and meaningful relationships are among the first needs listed by Dr. Maslow. If we want those we love to be the best version of themselves, why should we intentionally deprive them of the fundamental factors that enable that to happen?
Alternatively, it would make much more sense to help a struggling substance user meet their innate human needs, in order to position them to grow into the person we would like to see them become.
That means that we shouldn’t mentally toss human beings into that giant red ‘addict’ bucket. Instead, we should accept not reject, encourage not discourage, foster positive relationships rather than pass shame, and love rather than judge.
It’s hard to transform the perception around drugs in a society that still incarcerates people for possessing them. However, Integrative Harm Reduction Therapy and similarly styled approaches continue to spread across the country and promising data continues to be collected.
As this newer and more empathetic outlook begins to take hold over our country in both the walls of behavioral health practices and the minds of citizens, we at the Wellness Collaborative are optimistic and believe that this approach will eventually become the new standard for clinical psychology, and that our laws, policies, and communities will reflect that change.
A Modern Approach To Addiction & Anxiety
We’ve adopted the most effective & modern methods when it comes to treatments for Addiction & Anxiety.
Here at Wellness Collaborative (as well as sister practice Heights Harm Reduction), our philosophy is based around empowering you as the individual. It’s no coincidence that the most successful methods all seem to be revolve around that same principle.
Dr. Kelli L Wright has spearheaded her private practice, Heights Harm Reduction, since 2003. With a focus on substance use and anxiety, Dr. Wright stands firmly against generalizations about mental health, going so far as to not even use the words ‘addiction’ or ‘addict’ during her sessions with clients.
Because these terms are so deeply ingrained in society, you may notice they are still used (albeit sparingly) in order to help potential clients find her website.
Let Us Get To Know You
While Dr. Wright is our lead doctor for addiction & anxiety, Wellness Collaborative is made up of specialists in various fields that are ready to get to know you as an individual and work with you to establish the best path to meet your goals. Not everyone wants the same lifestyle or has the same values, so we put emphasis on making sure the treatments we offer can be molded around the unique person that you are.
Feel free to schedule an appointment today, or to just click around and absorb all the information we have to offer. We look forward to meeting you!