You Don’t Need to “Hit Bottom” to Move Past an Addiction!


As people age, they get over their problems. Addiction is one of those issues that are resolved by aging-out; more than 90% of former “addicts” or “alcoholics” move on completely from problematic use. And they do it without “hitting-bottom” or going to rehab, or going to 12 step meetings, or therapy or any other type of external coercion or manipulation or near-tragic situation. There are 2 reasons why this fact isn’t widespread good news: first, most people don’t change because of a major life event like a DUI arrest, a nasty divorce, or some other major life-altering issue. Most simply decide in the privacy of their lives with no fanfare that they want to change, and then they change and move on. These scenarios don’t make for high ratings or dramatic money making social media content. Even people with extreme long-lived destructive habits change their habits with boring regularity. Secondly, it’s not in the best interest of the 45 billion dollar addiction treatment industry to let the masses know treatment isn’t needed or even wanted by the vast majority who are the self-changers out there. We discuss this in The Freedom Model for Addictions: Escape the Treatment and Recovery Trap:

“There’s good reason to suspect that those that don’t get treatment don’t buy into the whole concept of addiction & recovery. When the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) asked them why they didn’t get treatment, 96% of them said they “don’t think that they need it.” This group had the symptoms of “addiction” and fit the diagnosis of addiction, yet they didn’t think they needed treatment. This shows that they probably rejected the idea that they were powerless and unable to stop on their own. Note that recovery ideology would say these people are “in denial,” and that they will never be able to deal with their addictions unless they “admit they have the disease of addiction, and need help.” Yet they don’t get help, and they do get over their problems. They get over their problems without taking on a lifestyle focused on being diseased and recovering. They get over their problems without the added complications of “recovery.” They do it without “support.” They are the vast majority of people with substance use problems, and they are the vast majority of people who resolve their substance use problems (both in raw numbers, and percentage-wise).”

This is fantastic news. What’s more, we all know this to be true. I can remember at least 10 people in my life that had very serious drinking and drugging habits at different points in their lives. All stopped, all did so without treatment or interventions, and all moved on to be more successful in their lives. None hit “rock bottom”, none went to 12 step meetings, none went to therapy of any kind, and all were fairly hardcore users for years – yet they quietly quit and moved on.

What we found when we looked at the research is that this pattern of getting over addiction without hitting bottom and going to treatment or 12 step support is the norm. Furthermore, it’s the vast majority of people who have, or once had a problem. Again, nearly all stop or successfully moderate their use to non-problematic levels. This flies in the face of the fear-mongering treatment and recovery zealots who want you to believe in disease rhetoric and “the need to hit bottom and go to rehab”. Of course the fact that heavy users consistently stop without any protocols whatsoever demonstrates the falsity of these rehab-centered ideas.

The need to wait until things are crashing down around us is the way treatment centers capture people in a state of panic. It’s easy to grab a family’s attention and get their money if they are terrified their loved one’s next step is death, overdose, or a mental hospital. So they keep heaping on the fear, while also saying, “They just need to hit rock bottom.” This is a self-serving promotion that is fraught with unneeded pain, tragedy, and lies.

So let’s lower the panic, knowing most people change without hitting rock bottom, they do so on their own, they don’t need rehab (no one does), and they can choose better for themselves without professionals trying to run their lives or coerce them onto treatment they don’t want. It’s time to let people decide for themselves what’s best for them, and to do so before they ever get near a “bottom”! And that can only happen if they know the truth – no one ever needs to hit rock bottom to change their behavior.