How to get someone struggling with addiction to realize they need help, or do they have to hit bottom?


“I am so worried he will never admit he has a problem and then it will be too late.”
Love to hear your experiences.

*Posting on behalf of a Village Community member


This is the big question. As a mom, I question myself a lot - am I doing the right things to encourage my son to find recovery? What else could I do? Does it make any difference?

I try to stay positive, even/especially when he is relapsing. I focus on what makes it worthwhile to get out of bed in the morning, and I realize that his showing up at dr’s appointments (even hung over) shows he has some level of commitment to get better. I try to give basic suggestions when he is open to them.

We have reached the level of trust where I can sit in on the dr visits where he is discussing his drug use and his life. I don’t comment, and leave it to the doctor to make suggestions and guide the conversation. I am there for my son’s moral support and to demonstrate my unconditional love for him and belief in him. I follow my heart and my instincts and try to model compassion so he can find it for himself.

Overall, never give up hope - that is my motto. So long as he’s alive, I know he will find his way to recovery. I just don’t know when or how!


It’s very difficult to see someone we care about in distress and there isn’t much we can do about it. But, dont give up hope or prayers. My son was using heroin for over 20 years. He was homeless part of the time, sick in the hospital with cellulitis and MERSA, hepatitis and Barrett’s yet persisted to use. He overdosed many times as well and was incarcerated for 2 to 3 yrs at a time. The last straw for him was having his son removed from their care. He has now been clean and sober for about 4 years. He’s a Manager at work and has regained custody. He has been with his wife for nearly 20 years now. She used methamphetamines. She too is clean and sober now. She has had her job for two years and is a lead. They are all doing life well. I did what I could to stay part of their life without being sucked into the misery. I loved them big, prayed and waited.
All the best going forward.


<3 this bit in particular - heaps!


I love that you chose to not give up hope or prayers. We can’t control when they need help but we can love them and think of them daily! So happy to hear of your son’s recovery :smiley:


Watching my son spiral down the dark road, self care was so important and not taking ownership as a mom for what was happening. Like today, I feel sad and I accept that I do , yet I am not hopelessly sad or wallowing in it! He is in jail waiting house arrest and it torments me; yet I know ultimately know he is safe and has 3 hots and a cot. I try everyday to journal positiveness and gratefulness. Try or go to Al-anon meetings, or find what works best for your self care and gain support around you. I journal, am thankful even on sad days, walk in the park, talk to a supportive friend or hide under the covers for a few hours. The folks on this site helps provide support! It is up to the person to ask for help; sometimes that may be hitting rock bottom and yes watching it can be distressing. Self care helps me!


Thanks for sharing your story of hope!


Self-care for the win!


Everyone has a different “rock bottom”. @Zanette mentioned a lot of negative consequences of her son’s use that may have been “rock bottom” for others, but clearly not for him. And for some, there’s no such thing as “rock bottom”. Main point here is: if you feel as though you need to intervene as a loved one, it’s best to do whatever you can to encourage them to get some sort of help. This may not be rehab - it could be therapy, showing them a film, reading a book (open to any other ideas).

Everyone has different levels of motivation to change, so sitting and talking with them about if they are motivated, how motivated they are, what is motivating them, and what is keeping them from being motivated could be a good start.

And know that our level of motivation to change also changes day-to-day, hour-to-hour or even minute-to-minute. If you can’t get through to your loved one right now then take a break and try another time!

Here’s an explainer on this concept of how to approach tricky conversations:


@erica What if a loved one has no motivation to change?


@Marigold that’s a great question! People generally use substances because they get something out of it (happiness, relaxation, courage, escape from pain both emotional and physical). So, they are motivated to use the substance by the desired outcome (amongst other things). That’s where we as friends and family members come in. If we take time to understand the basic motivation they have to use the substance we can begin to find ways to intervene to tip the balance so eventually with time they learn they can achieve happiness, relaxation, courage, etc in new healthier ways that don’t involve substances.

If you engage with your loved one in an encouraging way, remain connected to them, provide them with good options for help, respect their opinions, and engage in good self-care and maintain healthy boundaries, things can improve and in time the motivation can begin to emerge. If you have any specifics I can help walk you through your situation. Feel free to message me or ask a new question!


@Marigold Moved your question into it’s own brand spankin’ new thread here to get it greater exposure because I’m sure you’re not the only one with this question!


I went thru that with my friend (now boyfriend) he was using meth, I didn’t give up on him and I always told him that he had my full support and help whenever he was ready to quit, but that if he continued using I would have to also keep some distance for my own mental health. Maybe that’s when the switch flipped for him and he stopped and its being almost a year since he has been clean. I made sure never to judge him and I also told him that I would never know 100% of what he was going thru but that I understood that it was extremely hard what. Now he just got promoted at work and I have never seen him so motivated. :slight_smile:


I no longer believe in rock bottom. I was waiting for my older son to reach that point, and her never did. He’s gone.
My other son has been using for 11 years and has experienced so many things that should have made him hit rock bottom - including losing his brother, He was in prison when his brother died.

From what I’ve heard from so many is that there is nothing we as loved ones can do to get them to the place where they are ready to stop. So in the meantime, we just have to take care of ourselves. I

I remind myself everyday that I’ve gone above and beyond in trying to help my son, I have nothing to feel guilty about, that worrying won’t solve anything. I also remind myself that he is the same loving son deep inside, and that his actions are 100% about the drugs. I still love him just as much, even though at times I don’t like him at all. I tell him every day how much I love him and that I believe in him.


Thank you for that reminder @AnthonysMom Sending you and your son lots of love and strength.


I feel the same way about there not always being a rock bottom. I also think it’s possible for some who are really struggling and suffering to hit something like rock bottom and believe that’s right where they belong.
I thought my mom losing her license and going to jail for a month after a DUI would be her rock bottom. She was, after all, once an elementary school principal who held herself to very high standards. But pain and addiction can make what some consider unlivable or unthinkable seem normal.
More and more I am accepting what I can and cannot influence in my mom’s life and in her illness. I’ve brought in therapists and caseworkers. I’ve taken her to doctors and rehabs. I’ve opened up about how worried I am, how I wish for her health and happiness, and how I believe she can begin to feel better. But I don’t think she believes it. Sometimes I wonder if she might not even want it. And I can’t make her.
So I tell her I love her. I ask her if she needs help with anything, whether it’s around the house or with how she’s feeling. I ask her if she’d like to talk to anyone, a doctor or a therapist or a potential new friend (my friends’ parents have offered to visit her as she is completely isolated). Until her answer is yes, there’s nothing more I can do.


I am so sorry Justine that you are experiencing such chronic stress from your boyfriend’s addiction. I have also experienced this with my husband in the last 29 years. Nothing has made him change or even become willing to change. Since we are so empathically attuned we can see the connection between underlying trauma and the lack of self worth that keeps them locked into their addiction. It was the hardest thing for me to let go of my guilt and to leave to save myself. Mary Oliver’s poem “The Journey” has been my companion for the last 20 years until I finally became determined to save the only life I could save…my own. As much as we see our partner’s value and worth and feel their pain, it won’t make a difference until they see and feel it themselves.


This is how I feel about my boyfriend. I keep hoping there’s a bottom, but there isn’t. He almost died in the ICU last summer (severe alcohol withdrawal + pancreatitis + multiple organ failure + sepsis). Yet, he continues to drink despite flaring his chronic pancreatitis. Every time he goes into the ER, I fear that he may not leave. It’s so emotionally toxic and a roller coaster.
He went to a 30 day rehab and said he didn’t want to do 60 or 90 days =( He has already relapsed and has been in relapse for a month. I’m so scared and helpless. I could cry for days if I let myself. I’ve offered to help find AA meetings, an addiction counselor, etc - but he says it’s “too hard” and he has to help himself. Yet, helping himself would include asking for outside treatment and support! =(
Because of childhood sexual trauma, I think that he believes he’s not worth saving. He also has depression, and said there’s no better feeling than being buzzed or drunk. He’s never dealt with the trauma. I told him that I’m scared he will die if he stays in relapse, and he said that he’s not scared of dying. I honestly don’t know what to do. I think he doesn’t believe in a better life once he gets sober, yet he tells me he loves me and wants to grow old together.
I have a therapist myself but it’s so hard to love someone who is literally killing themselves with alcohol. I want to leave the relationship and put up very strong boundaries, but I’m scared he’ll use that against me - that I don’t love him and abandoning him in his darkest hour. So it keeps me trapped. I fear he’ll be dead by next year. I don’t hate addicts, but I hate addiction.


You cannot. They have to make the choice themselves. You have to take care of yourself mentally and physically. Find the a book called “Co-Dependent No More.” This is what helped me to see what I could do. My husband spiraled out of control into the deepest darkest place I have ever witness someone. He attempted to take his own life many times. He would tell our 8 and 9 year old daughters goodbye and leave and we didn’t know if this was the end… He held us hostage by threatening to take his own life if we left. So we stayed. I started reading Codependent no more. I finally stopped surviving and started to make a plan. I packed our suitcases and headed out the door. My husband made the choice to go to treatment that night and was admitted by morning. He is now 120 days sober and I can see life again in him, myself and children. Take care of you first. Find a higher power. Pray. Find your peace. It is out of your hands. I will say a prayer for you tonight.