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After hitting ‘rock bottom,’ some people with addiction issues find a road to recovery

In addiction phraseology, it’s often called “rock bottom.” It’s a state of mind known as the nadir of suffering, an overwhelming feeling of hopelessness. Sometimes it’s a jump-off point at which misery is traded for normalcy and meaning, where one life ends and another begins.

Ryan Hess’s rock bottom came during a drizzly December in Ohio. He was yet again high on heroin, and he had been that way for more hours than he could remember. The 33-year-old lay on a filthy sweatshirt beneath a piece — just a small piece — of tent, stolen from a stranger’s garden shed. His socks and shoes were wet, his breath and body reeked.

“I was hungry and very lonely,” he says. “I broke down weeping like a baby. I needed help, and 48 hours later I finally accepted it.”

Hess entered rehab and completed four-plus months of inpatient and outpatient treatment, committing himself to sobriety after some 15 years of what he calls “horrible” substance abuse that had included two overdoses.

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