The myth of hitting bottom

Alcoholics frequently deny their addiction to alcohol. Problem drinkers who acknowledge that alcohol has negatively impacted their lives still resist suggestions that they change their behaviors. What their family or loved ones see as a problem, alcoholics may see as a preference, a lifestyle choice. So they continue to drink despite increasingly negative consequences. Untreated, their alcoholism may cause them to lose their families, friends, jobs, money, and physical and mental health.

This is called hitting bottom. Bottom: the place where the alcoholic has lost it all. It is only after hitting bottom, the myth of hitting bottom tells us, that the alcoholic will be willing to see the truth about their addiction. Only then will they realize that what they thought was a preference is really a life threatening problem.

This pervasive myth has resulted in unnecessary suffering for many alcoholics and their families. The bottom for many alcoholics is the point at which they entered an inpatient or outpatient drug treatment program. Maybe they were told by a loved one that the nagging would stop if they went in for an evaluation. Maybe they received an ultimatum.

It doesn’t matter how someone gets into treatment. Treatment for drug and alcohol addiction works. It is possible even for those who don’t see their behaviors as destructive to come to realize that change is necessary.


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