Watching an alcoholic struggle with alcohol addiction and the many negative effects it has on their life can be a very frustrating and terrifying process for the loved ones of an alcoholic. Addiction is a very dangerous disease for many reasons, not least of which is the fact that when a person is addicted to alcohol they often engage in behaviors that place them in jeopardy. They likely also begin to alienate those who love them and to put things like their job safety at risk. Though it is very common for the loved ones of an alcoholic to want to "force" them into treatment, the reality is that each alcoholic simply must find their own "bottom." Here's why.
1. Only the Alcoholic Themselves Can Make the Decision to Get Better
Recovery from alcoholism is a challenging process that requires a tremendous amount of resolve and focus. For this reason, only an addict who has decided for themselves that they are ready to take the necessary steps to get healthy will be able to successfully get the most out of any treatment program and to remain focused and determined in the most challenging moments of recovery. An addict who has not yet committed themselves to finding health faces very small chances of getting better.
2. Rock Bottom is Different for Everyone
Rock bottom is the point at which an addict's life has reached a point where they no longer have control of their addiction. This point is determined by each addict's own personal perspective, and for this reason, one person's rock bottom will not be the same as another's. This is why it is not possible for an outside person to assess whether a person has hit rock bottom, no matter how close that person is to the alcoholic.
3. It Takes Hitting Rock Bottom to Begin the Journey to Health
No one wants to watch a loved one suffer in the depths of alcohol abuse. It is difficult and painful to watch a loved one struggle with the serious impact that drinking has on one's life. It is a very common instinct to want to protect an addict from the consequences of their drinking. This is the main reason that many loved ones inadvertently begin to enable their loved ones.
While enabling seems like helping an alcoholic in the short term, it actually may be detrimental because it can prolong the amount of time it takes for an alcoholic to realize that they do in fact have a problem. Alcoholism is such a serious and all-encompassing disease that there is little beyond hitting rock bottom that will lead an addict to the realization that they need help.
4. Finding One's Own Bottom Helps Them Realize That Their Life Is In Their Control
In order to do the work necessary to get sober it is necessary for an addict to realize that they have control over the decisions they make. Addiction is a disease that leaves alcoholics feeling powerless much of the time, and only when an addict realizes that they do not have to remain trapped in the cycle of use can they start to heal.
In order for an addict to understand the degree to which they have control, the realization that they have in fact hit their rock bottom must be their own. The best thing that the loved ones of an alcoholic can do to help is to be honest about the way an alcoholic's behavior is and to provide emotional support without enabling the addict and prolonging the rock bottom that will finally lead an alcoholic to good health.