How to Quit Being a Drunk – Rock Bottom Myth

This is part four in an ongoing series

One of the most unhelpful bits of information that I picked up as a drunk was the idea that I would need to hit rock bottom in order to get better. Like most popular myths it does contain some truth. The problem is that it is too easy to miss the simple wisdom and turn this saying into a justification for madness. I bet I’m not the only drunk who believed that hitting rock bottom would need to involve losing almost everything. It took me years to realize that it was up to me to decide when I’d reached this point – when I’d had enough.

Homeless Rough Sleeper

Rock Bottom as an Excuse to Drink

It once made complete sense to me that drinking more alcohol could be a path to self improvement. This flawed logic was justified because of my understanding of the rock bottom. By hitting the booze that bit harder I would be speeding the process along. I would be bringing myself closer to the point of giving up. This crazy thinking almost killed me – all it did was delay the day when my misery would end. There is no magical point we reach in addiction when the conditions are perfect to stop.

I wouldn’t say that there was anything especially miserable about my last days of drinking. I’d had worse periods in my life. The difference was that I’d just had enough. It wasn’t that things had dramatically fallen apart but more a slow predictable decline to a place of insanity that I’d visited previously. I did believe that continuing consumption of alcohol might kill me in a matter of months, because of the sate of my liver, but this type of concern had never stopped me before. My rock bottom wasn’t anything fancy – it was just the realization that I did not want to do this anymore.

We Choose Our Own Rock Bottom

Unless we are complete sadomasochists there is no advantage to falling lower into addiction. Our rock bottom can only be where we are now. If being drunk is harming our life in any way we’ve already lost enough. There are no medals for getting as close to death as we can go. In AA they talk about a descending lift (elevator if you are from the US) where it is up to us to decide which floor we want to get off at. I like this description because it emphasizes that the power is in our own hands to stop the pain whenever we want to.

By delaying the day that we will end our pain we are being our own worst enemies. There is no justification for it. We are on a losing streak and the only sane option is to remove ourselves from the game before we lose everything.

How to Quit Being a Drunk Series

Part one – Welcome to the Series
Part two – The Payoff
Part Three -Alcoholism is a choice
Part Four – Rock Bottom Myth
Part Five- The Problem with Ambivalence
Part Six- Getting Motivated
Part Seven – From Arrogance to Willingness

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2 thoughts on “How to Quit Being a Drunk – Rock Bottom Myth

  1. I’m 69 y.o. and have been sober since 1973. My rock bottom was waking up one morning and not remembering driving home from a bar. It could have been my worst nightmare: Killed in a car accident and leaving two young children without a mother. In retrospect, I know my life would have been hell if I had continued drinking. Thank goodness I realized then that I did not want to live my life as a drunk.

    1. Hi Diana, we do save ourselves a great deal of further pain by deciding that we’ve had enough. As soon as I realized that drinking was hurting my life I should have stopped – that could have been my rock bottom. All the pain that came afterwards was optional.

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