Hang around enough recovering addicts and alcoholics, and soon you’ll hear plenty of stories about “the bottom,” “my bottom,” or even the ominous “rock bottom.”
So many people use the phrase, seemingly without second thought, that it would seem that every addict or alcoholic should know what it means. But in fact, the meaning of “the bottom” is wildly different for almost everyone.
One person’s “bottom” might include jails, institutions, or a terrifying near-death experience. For someone else, it might be the moment that a boss steps in with an ultimatum at work. And for yet another addict or alcoholic, it might simply be their very first blackout.
It’s easy to compare those experiences, and easy to judge someone else’s life-changing moment as “not bad enough” or on the other hand, as unspeakably horrifying.
The reality, however, is that for every alcoholic and addict, the bottom is where you stop digging.
Every single addict and alcoholic who has found recovery would have traveled much further into humiliation, degradation, and pain if they continued digging down into that hole. No matter how terrible a situation is, with addiction in the mix, it is absolutely certain that it can get a lot worse.
Indeed, the only true, final bottom in addiction is the feared trio: jails, institutions, and death.
So, no addict or alcoholic has to reach a certain marker of personal humiliation before entering the program. It’s not a requirement that you be homeless, have spent time in jail, or have ruined all of your most meaningful relationships.
The only requirement is a desire to stop drinking, and/or using drugs. The moment that someone feels that desire, and commits themselves to doing whatever it takes to achieve it, the bottom has arrived. And it’s time to climb back up into the sunlight.