Dealing with an addict - compassion or tough love?

They say you can only help an addict once they've hit rock bottom, but do you truly believe that an addict needs more negative experiences rather than positive before they begin to heal?

Consider the following excerpt from "Compassion: Is it the best treatment for addiction" by Flannery Dean found in Chatelaine Magazine. Dean discusses findings by Dr. Gabor Mate, a Vancouver-based addictions specialist and author of "In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction".

"Treatment approaches vary, but one of the most popular and pervasive ideas about the treatment of addiction is that people need to hit “rock bottom” to see the light and, for that to happen, the people around them need to practice tough love...In the interview, Mate says that “rock bottom” is a meaningless concept that doesn't take into account the realities of most addicts’ lives...The doctor argues that punishing people for their problems isn't a wise approach if you want to create positive change, “People don’t need more negative things to happen to them to give it up,” explained Mate. “They need more positive things to happen."

To us, those "positive things" include increasing the number of assets in their lives. In short, if an addict has more to be excited about and more to look forward to, then that in itself will create a motivation loop that is more powerful than any form of negative withdrawal and abandonment.

What do you think? Have you ever dealt with a loved one who had an addiction?