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How do we “raise the bottom?”

You’ve heard it said, “They must hit bottom before they will be ready to get help.” Do you have to wait until they hit bottom? Or is there something you can do to help “raise the bottom” so your loved one can get help sooner? Here are three great ways that you can help raise the bottom for your loved one!

1. Stop rescuing your loved one

All too often we have covered up their irresponsible decisions— paid bail so they could get out of jail—paid delinquent bills, or the rent. We’ve believed their heart-stopping stories of tragedy. “I cashed my check, and put the cash in my pocket. When I got home, the money was gone! I must have dropped it.” They played the part so well—the tears, the frustration—“I was trying so hard to be responsible, and now I have nothing!”

Your heart of compassion goes out to them and you generously give to help them through to the next paycheck. You failed to see their story was a very convincing con job to get extra cash for drugs. You “raise the bottom” for your loved one when you say, “No,” and allow them to face the painful consequences of their irresponsible actions.

2. Tell them the truth

You help “raise the bottom” for your loved one by being truthful about their problems. We often have perfect insight in seeing the problems in strangers and other casual acquaintances. But when it is your own family member—you want to believe the best—and you deceive yourself by saying, “Things really aren’t all that bad. I’m sure things will get better soon.”

You need to speak the truth— not in a torrent of frustration and rage—but firmly so the message is unmistakable. “You have a problem—you need to change—you need help. I can’t change you. I won’t make any more excuses for you. Help is available, but you must choose to get help.” Saying it one time usually won’t break through the fog of confusion and delusion. Those who work in the field of addictions often see that it takes 30 or more such messages of truth before the person is ready to admit their need to get help.

3. Don’t make decisions for them

One family had a son who dropped out of college as a freshman. He came back home, bringing his drug addiction with him. He didn’t get a job, so Mom and Dad made his car payments for him, so he wouldn’t lose the car. So how do you find the balance between doing nothing or making decisions for your loved one who has a problem?

There is no simple ABC plan to let you know how to best help your loved one. If the person with the problem is living in your home, then you have a greater opportunity to impact them with your decisions. You can place requirements on them, which force them to choose in a responsible way. If they continue to be irresponsible, you can put painful consequences in place. Some family members have forced their loved one into a program. Sometimes it works— after a few days in the program, the addicted one realizes s/he needs to change and stay with this new path to healing and restoration. But often people forced into programs leave prematurely.

Do you have a loved one on a path of destruction that has not yet “hit bottom”?

A. What, if anything, have you said or done to try to rescue this person?
B. How hard is it for you to let go of this person and let God do whatever it takes to bring your loved one to a place of change?
C. What can you do to “raise the bottom” for your loved one?

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