What Does it Really Mean to Hit Bottom?

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if drug use followed a formula and that every addict’s path were the same? This would make it so much easier to predict when things associated with addiction would occur and that more importantly, as an addict, you could either pinpoint when your bottom will occur or ideally, avoid it altogether.

The reality is that addiction is often ugly and there is nothing formulaic about it. Perhaps the only thing that you can be certain of is that it is necessary to hit bottom before you can really get clean. But what exactly is a bottom? And how does an addict know when he or she has reached it?

An addict’s bottom is the point at which they decide that enough is enough; in other words, it’s time to end the way they have been living and find a new way to live.

Different People Mean Different Experiences and Different Bottoms

Bottom, of course, takes on different forms for each addict. Some addicts have to lose everything they have – home, spouse, kids, and every material and sentimental possession they own – before they are done using. Some find themselves with literally nothing: no money, no job, no support system, and in their fleeting lucid moments, have memories of what once was and a burning desire to get back to that place. For that addict, he or she has to be so low and desperate that the only place to crawl is back up.

And then there are those whose bottoms are not nearly as physically, mentally and spiritually painful. For them, bottom comes after a small brush with the law, which resulted in nothing more than a fine and community service in place of jail time. It could occur after a spouse threatens to leave if things don’t change or after your boss approaches you and suggests that your behavior is no longer acceptable and it’s either rehab or a pink slip.

Ultimatums and small brushes don’t work for all addicts. Some have to find themselves in what can only be described as hell before they can climb out. However, this doesn’t mean that for the person who "got it" before he or she had to lose everything that he wasn’t really an addict or that recovery isn’t going to stick. Just as the path of addiction takes different routes for everyone, no two bottoms are alike and no two recoveries are, either.

Some Bottoms are Seemingly Bottomless

Unfortunately, for a small percentage of people it may require more than one bottom to crawl out of their hell of addiction. Once in a while it takes losing everything not once but twice or sadly, several times before an addict has had all he can take, and is sick and tired of being sick and tired. This could mean that he could handle losing his wife and kids and still used but when his addiction caused him to commit a crime and he was convicted, he finally got the wake up call he needed.

Bottoms Cannot Be Forced

There is only one truism about bottoms: they are necessary for all addicts. Whether yours resulted in ‘only’ being fired from a job or you lost everything that ever meant anything to you, you have to experience it before you can take that first step toward recovery. There is no such thing as being able to control an addiction; only the addict can come to this realization. All the pleading and ultimatums by loved ones will not be as powerful a tug as your addiction.

If you have hit your bottom and have that burning desire to stop using, there is no better time than right now to stop using.