Notes from an Addictions Counsellor

International Drug Rehab Panama

Notes from an Addictions Counsellor

What Are You Waiting For?

How much of human life is lost waiting.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

One person in ten is facing some kind of addiction. Many more are affected because someone close to them is facing some kind of addiction. It’s common for people in these circumstances to be waiting for the cycle of addictive behaviours to change, stop or get bad enough to create momentum for change. In recovery language, the latter is called “hitting bottom” and many people believe that things have to get much worse until they can get better.

Too short to wait - Addictions Counsellor

A wise person once said to me that we hit bottom when we stop digging. Passively waiting for things to get worse implies that we give up on taking any kind of action and accept that our life, or the life of our loved one, has to continue in a downward spiral before things can change for the better.

It’s true that “rock bottom” jolts some folks to reach out, get help, take steps toward making positive change. It’s also true that waiting for rock bottom doesn’t have to be part of the equation. Taking a clear-eyed look at what’s really happening and making a decision to reach out right now, rather than when things get worse, may be the most important decision you will ever make. I have yet to hear someone in recovery say that they wish they had waited a while longer before they asked for help.

If you are concerned about alcohol, drugs or other self-defeating behaviours in your life, perhaps it’s time to stop waiting for something, anything to change. In 12-step language, if nothing changes, nothing changes.

if nothing changes - addictions counsellor

Reaching out and asking for help comes in many forms. Perhaps you start by writing about asking for help in your journal. Perhaps you decide to talk to a trusted friend about what’s happening for you right now. Maybe you pick up the telephone and call a local support group, for example a 12 step group, ask for help.

If you are watching a friend or family-member struggle with alcohol, drugs or other addictive behaviours, waiting for them to ask for help is very painful. Perhaps you can reach out and offer an empathic ear, without any judgment, advice or pre-conceived outcomes. Letting your friend know that you are there and willing to just listen might be just what they need to take a step away from the waiting place.

If professional support feels like the next right step to take, there are many, many options and choices for treatment and support in the addictions field. One of them will be the right fit. Perhaps the next small step is to have a look around the internet to see what’s available.

Perhaps you are reading this newsletter right now for that reason. If so, what’s the next small step for you? Where might you send an e-mail asking for more information? Who might you call?

waiting for change - addictions counsellor


Neither waiting for things to get worse nor waiting for things to get better makes sense. What small important step can you take right now to stop digging and get out of the waiting place?


The Recovery Book by Arlene Eisenberg, Howard Eisenberg and Al Mooney

Recommended by Bellwood Health Services Inc., this collaboration from a physician, a coauthor of the What to Expect books and a medical journalist, explains exactly what a recovering addict and his or her family will face during every stage of recovery. Available from

You Need Help! Dr Mark Komrad

Step by step guidance and support as you take the courageous step of helping a friend who might not even recognize that s/he is in need. Available from Hazelden Bookstore.


Guest Blogger – Karen Graham

Karen Graham, Addictions Counsellor

Panacea Canada – Complexity to Clarity

Panacea Canada has been a catalyst for client success across Canada since 1993. They have worked with hundreds of organizations and individuals to support their quests for clarity in the midst of complexity. Serenity Vista supports and recommends Karen Graham. Follow her Blog, Evolving You.


Comments are closed.