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      Sober Nation

      Putting Recovery On The Map

      09-19-13 | By

      Rock Bottom

      Listening to the stories from those who have been around the block in recovery terms was an important lifeline to me early in my journey.  Having a baseline in shared experiences helped me feel that I wasn’t alone and gave me hope and confidence to work my own program to its zenith.   Often times around the tables I would hear about someone’s rock bottom moment where the truth met the road and the light bulb was finally turned on and the damage wrought by addiction could not be rationalized or ignored any longer.  Hitting rock bottom was the unfolding of the horror story and the long and perilous journey back from that personal hell.

      rock bottom in recovery

      As I heard these stories, it got me to thinking of how being rock bottom in regards to addiction is defined.  What is it in exact terms? What is its importance in my recovery?  What role does in play in helping me not only get sober but stay sober?  It is often said that one has to hit rock bottom before they can get sober, but I could rattle of a litany of low points during my addict days and those events were practically slapping me in the face, yet I still continued to use as if I was on some sort of mission.

      For the purpose of understanding that moment fully, I needed to define what rock bottom what for me and in the realm of my own experiences.  The rock bottom moment is subjective to one’s personal experience and history.  For some, hitting rock bottom entailed homelessness and poverty and for others hitting that bottom meant the failure of a marriage or other relationship, and for others failing health could have been the flashpoint.  A person doesn’t have to be spiraling further down in ever tightening circles and hitting the basement of hell to hit bottom.

      Addiction is a complex machine and unless you experience its’ grip first hand or have been a spectator with front row seats it won’t be understood.  The development of an addiction is gradual and while the consequences of the use of our substance of choice may be understood and felt, the moment where we fully have that burning bush moment and the blinders fall off may be further down the line or sadly that moment may never come.  When an addict uses the poison of his or her own choice, that substance becomes the skeleton key that unlocks those most ardent wants and deepest desires.

      We think we have found the proverbial Promised Land in our mind and soul and those feelings of euphoria and belonging feel real.  Healthier and more organic alternatives seem foreign because those have either never been cultivated or had died on the vine long ago.  As addiction grows deeper roots we realize that we need more and more of that substance to try and replicate those feelings that were experienced in the honeymoon phase of our using.  While we chase those feelings and that love that foundations that define our reality are crumbling…family, friends, relationship, and security.

      As stated earlier, the repercussions of addictive behavior and use may slap someone in the face but that jolt may not cause the addict to take pause.  A theory behind that phenomena could be because there may absolute parameters that define what is rock bottom, people may not seek help or realize the gravity of the situation because that “rock bottom” hasn’t been hit at that moment.  So, the question remains, when does a person find that moment where the tides turn?

      For a person to hit that rock bottom moment, there can be some defining moments that allow one’s true conscious to poke through and find traction.  One of those realizations is that is takes more and more of the substance of choice to produce the desired effect.  The tolerance to that substance can be so great that the ritual of procuring that substance becomes the principal guiding force in a person’s life.  Another one of those realizations is the physical dependence of the substance in question to the point that it causes the mind and body to struggle with anxiety.  That anxiety may manifest itself in physical form by shaking and insomnia, as examples.

      Ultimately, that realization that life as one knows it is no longer working in the grips of addiction.  The struggle can be felt in one’s home life and work and relationships on the platonic and intimate levels have become adversarial.  Seeing these things unfold and being able to absorb the truth without filters can define what rock bottom is for an individual.  Again, that moment doesn’t necessarily have to occur at the bottom…it can happen anywhere along that journey.



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