He felt lonely, desperate and afraid. It was six-thirty in the morning and he had collapsed in the broom closet of his tiny office. Sweaty and awake since four, he already had consumed a quart of vodka to prepare for the consequences of another day. He squeezed his eyes shut against all light and tried to block out the smell of vomit that soured his clothes.

This man had long harbored dreams of success, but reality was starting to sink in. He was deeply in debt to dangerous people, reliably drunk by noon each day and had just forged a batch of financial documents. He had been fighting his personal demons for a long time.

He heard the outer door of the office open and a single set of footsteps walk toward the closet. There was the sound of a hand on a door handle and the closet door opened. The man closed his eyes even tighter. His body began to shake.

After several agonizing seconds of silence, the closet door eased shut and the unknown visitor retreated from the office.

From that moment forward, the young man decided to quit hiding from himself. He sought professional help and began to face the consequences of his actions.

Some people might define this moment as “hitting bottom.” Others might call it a spiritual awakening or moment of personal sapience.

In the helping professions, evidence-based programming is essential, counselors need time and resources to provide effective support and behavior change is certainly a lifelong process, not a single event.

But personal moments of awakening are still uniquely personal, and sometimes all it takes to start a period of positive change is a gentle hand opening a door.