“The End of Hitting Rock Bottom” and My Actual Most-Unpopular Opinion

“The End of Hitting Rock Bottom” and My Actual Most-Unpopular Opinion December 9, 2015

This is a very good article from the Boston Globe (h/t Maia Szalavitz, whom you should follow if this sort of thing interests you):

Shortly after 1 a.m. on March 27, Susan Knade awoke to the sound of her cellphone ringing. It was her 21-year-old daughter, Caroline, calling. She was crying.

Please, Caroline said. Please, come pick me up.

Nine hours before, the woman running the halfway house had told Susan that Caroline could stay so long as she passed a drug test after the weekend. But something had happened. Caroline had been kicked out. She was calling from a 7-Eleven, she said, and entering heroin withdrawal.

Susan instinctively reached for her keys, then stopped herself. Her Al-Anon group had a phrase for intervening like this — standing in the way of miracles. What if this was the moment Caroline was supposed to hit bottom and turn her life around? But Susan couldn’t shake the darker image: her little girl, at a convenience store counter, alone in a strange city. Afraid.

Susan fumbled through her dark driveway, got in her car, and drove 50 rainy miles to Annapolis.

more. But also, this description of the CRAFT model sounds striking like the advice given in the most-reviled chapter of AA’s Big Book, “To Wives.” Like, look, I’m not going to tell you how to live your life, and I do get that cultural context matters in how we read things. And we gain from reading whatever we’re ready to gain; I may have just hit this chapter at the right time in my life. But “To Wives” and its sequel “The Family Afterward” are the only chapters of the Big Book I really learned a lot from (afaik) and the only ones I’ve consciously applied in my daily life.

“To Wives” really does not fit the stereotypes–it explicitly says it’s not saying you need to stay with your spouse, just that if you have decided to, here are some ways you can understand your situation and move toward peace. I keep toying with the idea of writing a piece on “Why ‘To Wives’ Is the Best Chapter of the Big Book” but I think framing it that way does come across as lecturing (esp since I’m, you know, not married), so instead I’ll just say that it has helped me in some of my relationships and, again, it chimes beautifully with the approach described in this article. It sounds like CRAFT gives families specific, practical guidance (whereas the Big Book gives general moral exhortation and principles) in how to listen and live both gently and honestly in a family shaken by addiction.

I do think the “hitting rock bottom” language is super misleading and should be dropped. There’s always a lower bottom! You can always get worse, yo. Why not get not-worse instead? You can come back and get worse later if you still want to.

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