The choice to finally get sober can be one of the most important and difficult decisions one can make. Taking the first step is incredibly frightening because of the unknown and in order for change to happen in our lives, we might need to experience what the Alcoholics Anonymous book describes as a “pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization.” This catalyst for change is also colloquially known as “hitting bottom.”
Hitting bottom does not necessarily mean being homeless and living under a bridge, although for some this may be the case. Essentially, it is the place in which the alcoholic or addict can no longer bear to continue the life they are leading and so they seek help for their addiction. While all bottoms will be different depending on the person, drug of choice and background, most people who made the decision to get sober say they felt as though they’ve finally reached the end of their rope, have taken a good look inside and realized that they have nothing left to give.
When we are caught up in our addiction, it is far too easy to be blind to the things in our lives that are causing our destruction. At the end of the day, the decision to get sober is one that must be made by the individual, and the events that lead to this decision can be innumerable. Sometimes, however, seeing all the damage that is done written out in black and white can help bring clarity to the situation.
Here are 4 things you’d most likely want to avoid that can easily speed up your process of “hitting bottom.”
1. Legal Woes
It is often said that legal problems are not enough to get someone sober, and the current prison population in this country would seem to verify this. However, I have met more people in my time in sobriety who decided to get sober after staring down the possibility of a lengthy prison sentence compared to any other reason. This does not mean that every person facing prison will get sober, as alcoholism and drug addiction are extremely powerful and baffling illnesses but, for many, it is the catalyst that allows for an objective look at their lives, which in turn causes change. Many drug addicts and alcoholics who are facing prison time are not criminals—they only committed criminal acts because their illness forced them to. Due to this, the idea of going to prison is so foreign to them that they finally realize that this is not who they really are, or who they ever imagined becoming. Sometimes, staring a judge in the face is the most sobering experience—both figuratively and literally—that can happen to an alcoholic or addict.
2. Work Consequences
Sometimes the fear of losing a job is a good enough motivator to get someone sober. Oftentimes, however, it’s a combination of this fear and the consequence of hurting people you respect. Many addicts have said that getting yelled at was something they could handle, but having someone say they were disappointed was unbearable. Typically, work consequences due to substance abuse signify that things have gotten to the point where one has started to let down people that they truly care about. Many times, it’s an awful enough feeling that it allows us to accurately look at ourselves and in return seek help.
3. The Destruction of Relationships
This is also one of the most common motivators for people getting sober. It may not only involve the loss of a romantic relationship but the realization that all of the person’s relationships have been destroyed. Substance addiction is a relational illness, which means that it affects everyone close to the addict. Many people arrive at a point where they realize that they are alone and completely isolated because they have hurt everyone around them for a long time. As human beings, we need companionship and the loneliness an addict experiences is indescribably difficult. From this jumping-off point, many people seek treatment because they no longer want to hurt those around them, and they cannot bear the loneliness any longer.
4. An Overall Dissatisfaction with Life
This is probably the most powerful motivator for getting sober, and it can literally mean anything that you want. Many people get sober without having to face legal consequences, problems at work or destroyed relationships, but what they do have is an internal thought that they are no longer satisfied with their life. Behind all of the noise of their addiction, almost every addict understands that they deserve better and are capable so much more. Fully coming to terms with this and the feeling associated with it is oftentimes enough to push someone to get sober.
If you are at that jumping-off point where it feels like your life is spiraling towards a bottom, you can end the inevitable fall now. Give yourself a break and seek the help that you need. Even if you haven’t experienced any of the motivators listed above, you don’t have to wait for them in order to move on. Get off the ride now, and join the many who have already found inner peace in a life recovered.