What does it mean to hit rock bottom? When it comes to alcohol and drug addiction, "hitting rock bottom" means that the user comes to a place where he decides he does not wish to continue living the way he is living, and hopefully, is now ready to make changes.
Some addicts have devastatingly low bottoms while others have surprisingly high ones. Anyone can take a look at the Low-Bottom addict and clearly see these are the individuals who've lost all their "stuff": cars, homes, jobs, relationships, families.
The High-Bottom addicts, on the other hand, are those who haven't lost their 'stuff' yet. These individuals have more than likely met with some incident which warrants a serious look at the consequences of their alcohol or drug use; in other words, something has happened which will not allow them to continue living in denial of the negative consequences affecting their lives. In talking with addicts who haven't done drugs or alcohol for a number or years, i.e., the addict in recovery, one will find an interesting mixture of bottoms. Fortunately, there are those individuals (High-Bottom) who become willing to face the consequences of their addiction and get into recovery. There are also those who enter treatment centers and experience what I call a case of the "Yets", and go back out to continue using.
Denial and the "Yets"
The disease of addiction is the only illness people can experience and yet remain oblivious to the fact that they have a serious ailment which requires immediate attention. Simple logic says if you break your arm, you have a problem which will require immediate attention; the body and mind work together to make it quite obvious to you that the limb will not work properly until it is treated. Addiction, on the other hand, works in just the opposite way; even as the physical symptoms begin to manifest themselves, the disease sabotages the message between body and mind in order to keep the addict captive to the whims of the illness. Denial is part and parcel of addiction and in fact, may be the hallmark of addiction; complete denial of the problem or denial that there is a problem 'Yet'.
The "Yets" come into the picture when the addict's attitude is such that he will not face the reality of the disease until something bad happens. Typical statements may include.. "Well, I haven't missed a mortgage payment Yet, have I?" . or "My drinking and driving haven't been a problem Yet". The "yet" attitude is just a part of the larger problem of addiction.
Bottoms and the Shovel Analogy
A client once told me about his experiences with bottoms; how he continually ended up in jail, continually lost stuff, i.e.; cars, apartments, friends, family, etc.. I asked him why he kept hitting these bottoms and he replied, "Dr. Gore, when you have no self-esteem to begin with, there are no limits to your bottoms." It was a brilliant, classic statement coming from a twenty-two year old addict. Essentially, the worse one feels about himself, the lower he will allow the disease to take him before choosing to get into recovery. Generally, people with healthier mental attitudes towards themselves get into recovery much more quickly than those who do not. When you don't feel good about yourself, and you're drinking and drugging, no matter what bottom you hit, you can always find a shovel and keep digging..
I want to help you halt the downward spiral of addiction and provide assistance no matter how far down you've gone. High-Bottom or Low-Bottom, both can recover from the disease of addiction with the help of a strong support system.