Alcohol addiction destroys people’s lives. This destruction impacts the lives of alcoholics and their families and friends. The typical stereotype of an alcoholic is a homeless person with a bottle of wine in a brown paper bag, but most alcoholics will not fit in with this image. In fact many people manage to escape their addiction before it causes too much destruction in their life. There are other individuals who have to lose practically everything before they hit rock bottom.
In order for people to escape addiction, it will often be necessary for them to hit rock bottom. This does not mean that they have to lose everything in order to achieve sobriety. Some individuals decide to escape their addiction even though they have lost relatively little. This situation is referred to as a high rock bottom. There are other people who need to lose practically everything before they become ready to deal with their problems. Tragically for some people their rock bottom is insanity and death.
It is up to the alcoholic to decide when they have lost enough from their life. Of course, the sooner they can end the addiction the better it will be for them. Some alcoholics worry that if they do not hit a low rock bottom it may mean that they later relapse. This is simply not true. There are many individuals who gave up alcohol after a high rock bottom and went on to enjoy a long lasting sobriety. There is absolutely no advantage to a low rock bottom. It only means that the individual has experienced additional suffering.
Low bottom alcoholics will lose much in life before they stop the abuse. The dangers of falling to this level of addiction include:
* Alcoholic dementia: This is caused by Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome, and the damage to brain function can be permanent.
* Cirrhosis of the Liver: This is the final stage of alcoholic liver disease. The liver is essential for human survival, and those who develop cirrhosis greatly reduce their own life expectancy.
* Loss of family and friends: The longer an addiction lasts the more people will tend to get hurt along the way. This means that low bottom alcoholics tend to be estranged from their families and will have few real friends.
* The loss of finances and career: As people fall further into addiction it becomes harder to hide their deterioration. This makes it difficult to keep steady employment so their career will suffer as a result. The drain that alcohol has on their finances can lead to constant money problems.
* Criminality: Low bottom alcoholics tend to be out of control when they are drunk. This makes it more likely that they will break the law. These individuals are also more likely to become the victim of crime.
* Homelessness: As the life of the alcoholic deteriorates they can struggle to maintain their own independent accommodation. These individuals can end up living on the streets or in homeless shelters.
* Loss of self respect: Low bottom alcoholics tend to lose respect for themselves. They may become convinced that they somehow deserve a miserable existence.
* Loss of hope: If people fall too low, they may lose hope of recovery from their addiction. This can mean that they will be unwilling to make an attempt to achieve sobriety.
It will always be up to the individual to decide when they have had enough. There can be factors that make it more likely that the individual will experience a low rock bottom, including:
* If the individual has a dual diagnosis, they are more likely to endure their addiction for longer. This is because their difficulties will be further complicated by a mental health problem such as depression, schizophrenia or personality disorder. They may be using their addiction as way to self-medicate. Such individuals might also lack the insight to fully understand their predicament and to see that escape is possible and desirable.
* Functional alcoholics can paradoxically be at greater risk of having a low bottom. They can become a victim of their own success at hiding the problem. If the individual has a good career and high social standing they may feel that there is too much to lose by admitting their addiction. They can persist with the behavior until it destroys their body and mind. High functioning alcoholics will also escape the financial and social constraints that hamper other addicts. So long as they remain successful and have enough money their excesses will usually be tolerated. When the full impact of their addiction finally catches up with them, their life may be in tatters.
* Many alcoholics just do not believe that it is possible to find happiness away from their addiction. They view recovery as being similar to serving a prison sentence. They fear that if they did manage to become sober, their life would be dull and meaningless.
* If people belong to a social group that supports their addiction then this will encourage them to continue their journey into despair. Even the most deprived life can feel tolerable when there are other people sharing in the misery. It can also take an amount of effort to break away from such a group. A community of active alcoholics will be highly dysfunctional, but members come to rely on the group for social support. High functioning alcoholics can also belong to a group that encourages hard drinking behavior.
* If people have suffered a great deal of mental trauma in their life, they may feel unwilling to leave addiction behind. Alcoholism will have been a great comfort to them in the beginning and they may not accept that this drug is no longer helping them.
* Those individuals who have had a bad experience in recovery may be unwilling to give it another go. Their previous failure may have been due to not feeling ready to quit or because they selected an unsuitable treatment option. It is generally no longer accepted that there is one treatment option that will suit everyone. In order for people to find success they need the recovery path that is most suitable to them. For example, there are many individuals who do not do well with 12 Step Programs because of the religious undertones. If these people are only offered AA, then they will struggle to succeed. When they relapse, they can then feel bitter about the experience and become unwilling to try again.
* It may be that some people hit a low rock bottom because of a lack of good information. They may have tried to stop drinking alone but failed. They may be unaware of the many treatment options that can help them build a life away from addiction.
There is no reason why an individual should need to lose too much before quitting their addiction. Here are a few suggestions for how people can avoid a low rock bottom:
* Just because people have previously failed at recovery does not mean that they are doomed to a life of addiction. There are different paths into sobriety to suit different needs and temperaments. Alcoholics often have to make a few attempts before they achieve lasting sobriety, but this is not to say that relapse is ever a good thing.
* It is beneficial to find out more about life in recovery. There are plenty of inspirational stories that describe how people have managed to build successful and happy lives away from alcohol. These resources can give the suffering alcohol hope and increase their motivation to quit the addiction.
* It is a commonly held view that alcoholism is a progressive condition. This means that things will always deteriorate over time. The individual needs to accept that the longer they stay addicted the more they will lose. Alcohol may have brought them comfort in the early days but it is not possible to return to these easier times.
* Seeking help for an addiction therapist can be highly beneficial. This professional will be able to guide the individual into recovery and discuss treatment options.
* Those people who are dealing with a dual diagnosis should seek advice from a professional qualified to treat such comorbidity.