Rock Bottom = Death

Tough love and rock bottom.


We've all heard the terms, and we probably have different definitions of what they mean. For me, tough love was kicking him out of the house and not helping him in any way…except I never completely followed that. I’d kick him out of the house and buy him groceries. I’d kick him out of the house but bring him a jacket on cold winter nights. I’d kick him out of the house and still take his cars. Most commonly - I’d kick him out and then let him back in.

There was no rock bottom for Keven. He experienced so many supposed “rock bottoms”. Being left in an alley to die followed by days on life support without me even knowing where he was. Jail. Prison. Countless overdose deaths. Waking up next to a dead friend. Serious infections, one that almost led to leg amputation. Having nothing but the clothes on his back and nowhere to go. Rock bottom for many with substance use disorder is an overdose death. For Keven it was suicide.

One mom wrote something that resonated with me. She gave me permission to share it with you:

"My son's journey with Substance Use Disorder ended on August 9, 2021 after a 15 year journey.

In parent meetings I was taught terms like "Tough Love" and "Rock Bottom" both supposedly necessary to perpetuate my son's ability to discover recovery.

What I discovered is this; the practice of Tough Love, such as "let them go, disconnect, love them from a distance, cut them off, don't answer the phone, don't let them... fill in the blank with everything we've been told tough love is equated to, caused my son NOT to seek recovery but pushed him further into despair, loneliness, depression and hopelessness.

So I chose to stop the waiting for him to hit Rock Bottom while applying tough love.

New research says understanding the Disease of Addiction, Connection and Compassion will perpetuate seeking recovery.

I chose to stay engaged with my son, love him right where he was, offering support, cheering him on, and inviting him to participate as a family. I implemented 1 boundary and only 1. He was welcome in our home when sober.

In the last year and a half of his life our relationship was completely restored, his siblings embraced him and we watched him chase after recovery.

Yes the disease won, we lost him. But we live with NO regrets. We loved him well, he knew he wasn't alone in the fight, we stood with him.

Substance Use Disorder isn't changed by tough love or allowing someone to hit rock bottom. It's changed with knowledge, connection, compassion and hope."

Written by Susan Willis Silva


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Cliff Piccirillo