The phrase “To Hit Bottom” has become a regularly understood statement in many circles of addiction recovery. For recovering addicts and alcoholics this means when they realized they had nothing left or had destroyed it all because of their addictions, and that they were ready to ask for help. What’s different about this recovering alcoholic, known in this interview as Ben, was that he realized that his drinking meant there was no bottom to hit, because he had nothing left to loose.
Interviewer: So when you say you did not ever hit a bottom in your disease, how did you know when you needed help?
Ben: Actually I knew all along I needed help. I just couldn’t stay sober long enough to get it.
Interviewer: So does that mean you tried? And if so, what happened why wasn’t it helping you?
Ben: What happened was, I had become homeless, and in my desperation to fight all the horrors of what had become of my existence in life- I wasn’t able to accept help. Social workers would come to the hospital after they had found me near dead for the third time and beg for me to go to treatment, but I could not hear them.
Interviewer: What do you mean you couldn’t hear them?
Ben: I couldn’t hear that another person was scared for my life. I had been through a year and a half of being homeless and rejected by all of our society, including my family. I had lost the ability to sense danger and hear the fear, or even love in someone’s voice. All I knew how to do anymore was to fight. And for me, fighting meant staying numb – meaning drunk.
Interviewer: So what happened, how did you finally achieve the three years of sobriety you have today?
Ben: It wasn’t until I started to regain my consciousness of who I used to be. What I mean by that is, I made contact with my Dad and he started to send me enough money to where I could get a hotel, shower and afford clean clothes. It was at that point that I became less afraid of the world and I started to care about myself. I started to feel some sort self- dignity again.
Interviewer: So once you regained your self-dignity and started to care about yourself again, is that when you felt like you needed help? Or were you just ready to get help?
Ben: Both. I had been arrested over 50 times for public intoxication within one year; I had been hospitalized for three life-threatening disorders because of my drinking. I had been attacked by other vagrants, and nearly beaten to death. But somehow I realized that I could not fight any longer.
Interviewer: So was that your bottom, when you realized you could not fight any longer?
Ben: No. I realized that for me there is no bottom when I am drinking. I can lose everything, nearly die, and go to jail, but nothing will be a bottom. I will keep going (drinking).
Interviewer: So if there are others who feel the same as you, what would you like to tell them?
Ben: That if you have realized that things in your life, or how your life is going can only continue to get worse, and really feel this from all directions- in your life- and who you are- you are then ready to realize that you may never hit bottom and that for you there isn’t one. Hitting bottom is when people are done. They do not want to go on being drunk, high, whatever. When you have no bottom, you realize that things will always get worse- it will be neverending.
Fortunately, Ben is, as stated earlier, in his third year of sobriety. After the interview, he stated he never thought he could get sober, and that over time sobriety gets easier. He also stated that alcoholism is a never-ending story of loss. All the horrors that we can imagine, do come true when you are in your disease. And all dreams come true when you are in recovery- Well said, Ben!
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