hitting rock bottom before sobriety

Addiction and alcoholism have a funny way of promising us time and time again, a fun and happy experience. Only, to then turn around and stab us in the back. Why do we let addiction and alcoholism bring us to rock bottom over and over again, and what is rock bottom when it comes to alcohol consumption?

When does an alcoholic hit rock bottom? Why do we continue to give this alcoholism a chance before seeking treatment? Between the various negative aspects of alcoholism, including the stress that alcohol dependency delivers, why is it that we choose to ignore hitting rock bottom? The answer is because addiction is a disease.

When Does an Alcoholic Hit Rock Bottom?

hitting rock bottom

If you or someone you care about is struggling with an alcohol use disorder (AUD), otherwise known as alcoholism, you don’t have to wait to “hit rock bottom.” Hitting rock bottom is an old idea. 

Often, families believe that they have to wait for their loved ones to “bottom out” before having any hope for recovery. Families need to realize though that this belief opens them up to years of unhappiness while they wait for the “bottom” to come.

In fact, people with serious alcohol addictions can continue for many years denying their descent into a social, economic, and moral downturn. Hitting rock bottom should not be the first consideration when thinking about AUD treatment. Alcoholism doesn’t hit a certain stage and then level off. It’s a progressive disease that keeps getting deeper and deeper, thus affecting the person morally, spiritually, and physically.

Negative Aspects of Alcoholism

Short-Term Side Effects

Before hitting rock bottom, consider these short-term side effects:

  • Slurred speech
  • Vision problems
  • Lapse in memory
  • Shallow breathing
  • Unconsciousness
  • Coordination issues
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Uncontrolled defecation/urination  
  • Vomiting
  • Coma
  • Death

Negative Aspects of Alcoholism 

Long-Term Effects of Alcoholism on Your Body 

  • Brain: The brain is the first to be impacted by even the first sip of alcohol. And prolonged use or abuse of alcohol has been proven to shrink brain size. Blackouts are a sure symptom of the impact of alcohol on the brain. This is a sure-fire sign that it has begun to cause major issues to our health.
  • Heart: The heart, although proven to be positively impacted by alcohol in moderate use, can have many detrimental effects with heavy intake. Heart attack and heart failure are two issues that are proven to arise from long-term heavy use of alcohol.
  • Liver: The liver’s main objective in the body is to clear the toxins. The impact of heavy use in a shortened period of time leads to the metabolism being overwhelmed. This then causes fatty liver disease leading to an array of issues.

Additional Long-Term Effects of Alcoholism on the Body

  • Pancreas: The pancreas becomes inflamed, even with occasional drinking. As a result, diabetes and organ damage are possible outcomes of heavy alcohol use.
  • Breasts: The breasts are also affected by heavy alcohol use. The breasts are impacted by a rise in estrogen causing possible breast cancer to occur.
  • Colon: The colon is impacted by the development of adenomas, which are capable of becoming cancerous polyps if not treated. 
  • Bones and muscles: The loss of appetite that often occurs in alcoholics, leads to fewer nutrients within the body, weakening the bones themselves. The muscles, not being supplied with nutrients, most importantly protein, leading to loss of muscle mass and deterioration. 
  • Central nervous system: The central nervous system, as mentioned previously, slurred speech and coordination are impacted by alcohol use. Both are a part of the nervous system. With long-term alcohol abuse or alcoholism, larger issues arise such as pain or numbness in the extremities. 
  • Immune system: The immune system is impacted by alcohol use by causing the body to not make the required amount of white blood cells. Without the immune system able to create our own natural defense against the outside world we are more susceptible to viruses or colds. 

Definitions of Hitting Rock Bottom

Hitting rock bottom is not always defined by death. It can be defined by:

  • Complete isolation from peers and loved ones 
  • Complete loss of connection with people in general
  • Family problems as a result of of addiction
  • Financial hardship due to substance use
  • Underperformance at school or work
  • Loss of identity 

However, for some of us, the concept of hitting rock bottom and playing games with the afterlife is what it takes to shake us to our core. To thrust us into drive and tiptoe away slowly. Although others prefer to live on the edge and push the limits despite how far they have sunk. By realizing that one must turn back now or jump off the cliff is a pretty intimidating thought. 

Rock Bottom and Fear

Rock bottom for alcoholism or addiction can look different for each and every person. Just like the differences between culture or personality, rock bottom varies from one person to the next. However, rock bottom stems from the fear of

  • Change
  • Isolation
  • A new start
  • Admittance

Fear isn’t an emotion only experienced by those stricken with the disease of addiction. Fear sneaks in for each of us throughout our life experiences. Poking holes into our well-constructed timeline or as a child in a dark room. 

For those that suffer from addiction though, fear seeps into the very fabric of their souls and dictates every single aspect of their lives. This often occurs all while individuals that suffer from addiction lay in the fetal position (figuratively or, for some, literally) chained to a pile of shame. People that suffer from addictions often allow fear to allow themselves to hit rock bottom.

The “High-Functioning” Alcoholic

There is a saying that “only an alcoholic thinks that he or she needs to hit a lower bottom in order to be an alcoholic.” –sober alcoholic. Every alcoholic has his or her own rock bottom. Some people have even hit several different rock bottoms along their journeys with addiction. 

Typically, high-functioning alcoholics (HFAs) experience hitting rock bottoms that are both emotional and internal. These rock bottoms usually include feelings of shame, remorse, loneliness, and hopelessness. 

Some people that hit rock bottom don’t have families or homes to lose, thus limiting the type of bottoms that they might experience. High-functioning alcoholics often go on for years denying that they are in a downward spiral despite their losses. 

Am I Really an Alcoholic?

Maybe you’re not really an alcoholic, you might be convincing yourself. That’s why you haven’t hit rock bottom. This denial of any problem is common with individuals with AUDs. Let’s look at some signs of alcoholism:

  • Quantity or general use of alcohol has increased
  • Tolerance for alcohol has grown, hangovers are less likely
  • Social situations without alcohol are less appealing and avoided
  • Avoiding contact or interaction with loved ones
  • Emotional issues and turmoil
  • Needing alcohol each day to manage
  • Negative mood swings when not drinking
  • Hiding drinking from loved ones and associates
  • Job loss, arrests, legal problems linked to alcohol use
  • Issues with loved ones and associates that stem from alcohol use and brings forth further abuse of alcohol.

Mild Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

Still denying the problem? Do you experience these symptoms when you try to cut down on your alcohol use or quit?

  • Hand tremors
  • Sweat increase
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Headache

Major Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

  • Seizures
  • Fever
  • Heavy production of sweat
  • Racing heart and/or high blood pressure
  • Confusion 
  • Hallucinations 

Each of these symptoms of withdrawal are indicative of the necessity of treatment for alcoholism. Admitting the severity of one’s withdrawal symptoms is always the first step to recovery. While admitting that one has an alcohol or drug use problem can be scary, it is worth it in the end. 

Healing, Recognition, and Alcoholism Recovery

After a person admits to hitting rock bottom, he or she must accept that truth. Admitting and accepting that one needs help to treat addiction can help a person more easily heal while in treatment.

In addiction treatment is where revelations occur. It’s also where healing and growth often occur. Everything in our lives is disintegrating before our eyes and our only directional choices are painted out for us, clear as night and day.

It is an unfortunate reality, how our alcoholic thinking just takes over any of our autonomy. Making our decisions for us. 

There is no specific timeline or length by which a person’s journey with alcohol addiction occurs. For some it can go on for a short time, luckily realizing what is happening. Unfortunately for others it systematically stems out from a conglomeration of years. Some addicts and alcoholics may never even overcome their addictions.  

History of Alcoholism

We are not doomed to wander the earth in an uncomfortable stupor.  A bit short of a hundred years ago, the program of Alcoholics Anonymous was created by Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob. 

They themselves suffered with alcohol use issues. They were doing everything in their power to climb up and out of their own rock bottom to continue living. Wilson and Dr. Bob wanted to take back their own lives and find their true paths in life, instead of vicariously going through life. To get out of their rock bottoms and live their own lives, Wilson and Dr. Bob founded Alcoholics Anonymous, or A.A.

It was upon this finding of A.A. that the 12 steps were created, and these two men were saved from rock bottom by discovering the powers of friendship and fellowship. By trading their rocks for pebbles, Wilson and Dr. Bob created an entity that has saved countless thousands and thousands of addicts and alcoholics struggling with the phenomenon of craving. 

Bill and Bob were at a point where there was no other direction. They were at their rock bottom and it was those bottoms that inspired the anonymous programs that we are so fond of today. 

Many people have a hole inside of their hearts that need to be filled. Addiction and alcoholism digs up that hole. Once recovery and solutions are provided, the hole that leads to rock bottom is filled and it becomes just another step in your bottomless day.

Avoid Hitting Rock Bottom By Attending Addiction Treatment At Coastal Detox

Life likes to throw curveballs at you while addiction and alcoholism pelt you with rocks and make everything very dark around you. It gets old and gloomy quickly–but there are alternatives to living in such dark times. 

If you or a loved one has been struggling with getting a firm grasp on sobriety and need detoxification and/or alcohol treatment, please contact us today here at Coastal Detox. Our teams of specialists are waiting to help prospective patients like you. Let us help you figure out and decide what options are best for sending your life in a comfortable direction that you can proudly stand behind.