Contemplating Sobriety? Why You Don't Need a Rock Bottom

Gillian May

Photo by Lea Böhland on Unsplash

After getting sober from alcohol, I can say that my rock bottom wasn’t one big wallop; instead, it was several small bumps that accumulated like grains of sand. Over time, the sand buried me under its immense weight, and I was tired and unhealthy. Also, I lost the ability to see the possibilities in my life.

No, I can’t identify a specific rock bottom, but then again, my impression of rock bottom was something really disastrous like an accident, losing a job, or causing someone extreme pain. Nothing disastrous happened from my drinking, so I never thought I had a problem. But by the time I was ready to quit, I’d had enough of all the small ways that alcohol negatively impacted my life.

For this reason, I think it’s important to understand that we don’t need to reach some horrifying rock bottom to know that we have an alcohol problem. In fact, waiting for that line to be crossed could also keep us stuck in an insidious loop that may slowly bury us.

Life never fails to give us the lessons we need to grow or make a change. As hard as the infamous rock bottom can be, I wonder if those who have one could be lucky. Because at rock bottom, there’s no question that you have a problem and a change needs to be made.

But many of us never have a rock bottom; we just keep going. Maybe we even ignore things that for someone else, could be a small rock bottom but to us, it’s not so bad. As alcoholics, we are masters of fooling ourselves into thinking that all is well no matter what might be crumbling around us.

Many of us already know the signs of problematic drinking:

  • Drinking alone
  • Drinking past the safe limits
  • Inability to stop drinking once we start
  • Having blackouts or memory lapses
  • Causing negative consequences for ourselves or others
  • Questioning ourselves or having others question our drinking

There are only two ways to take responsibility for problematic drinking; we either quit altogether or find a sustainable way to stick with moderation.

We don’t need to subscribe to a set way to deal with our drinking, nor do we need to reach a rock bottom before we begin to take charge of it. We just need to find a way to admit the problem, then commit to doing something about it.

In fact, if we hold the “rock bottom” as the bar we set before we decide that our drinking is hurting our life, we will likely never reach it. Instead, it becomes the excuse we use to continue drinking while we slowly ruin our lives in the process. It’s like saying that we will continue driving recklessly until we end up crashing. And only after we’ve crashed, will we take responsibility for our driving.

If we ever have to ask ourselves if we have a problem with something, then we likely have a problem with that thing. The problem may be big or small, but nonetheless, if we are asking ourselves, then chances are we need to get real about it.

I love food. It’s one of my biggest joys and pleasures in my life. But I never have to ask myself if I have a problem with it. Although I enjoy eating, I’ve never had to worry if my eating may be hurting me in some way. This is how I know I don’t have a problem with food.

But drinking? I’ve most definitely asked myself many times if I had a problem. And it took years of asking myself before I could finally be honest about it. It took another few years to actually do something about it.

For many years, I told myself the story that since I never hit rock bottom, then my drinking was perfectly healthy, and all was well. This only served to keep going and going until I began to show signs of alcohol damage and couldn’t move forward with the goals I had for my life.

If we wait for a rock bottom before we make a decision about our problematic drinking, we may be keeping yourself in an endless loop of insidious ruin. And also, waiting for rock bottom is a real gamble with our lives. In other words, be careful what we wish for because we just might get it.

Comments / 0

Published by

I'm a former nurse turned freelance writer. I have extensive experience in administration, frontline care, and education in mental health, public health, and geriatrics. However, after 20 years, I needed a change and always wanted to write. I have personal and family experience in mental health and addictions, so I'm passionate about advocacy and education in those areas. I'm also a traveler, photographer, and artist. I funnel all my various expertise into my writing and hope to provide valuable content that is entertaining and educational. Join my email list if you want to read more of my work -


More from Gillian May

Comments / 0