from addict 2 advocate

Hitting Bottom: High Ones, Low Ones, and Choosing One

By: Marilyn L. Davis




Stop Where You Are and Choose Your Bottom 


Thirty-one years ago, I hit what people called a bottom during an intervention. My choices? Go to treatment or lose my job. Although I did not put up a fight or show resistance, it took treatment to learn to call it a bottom and find a new beginning. 


Must The Bottom Be So Far Down?


I was in treatment with over 80 other people, all of us with a substance abuse problem, but not all experiencing the same intervention techniques, reality checks, or bottoms. 

Some members of my group lived in abandoned buildings, others resided in mansions paid for by their basketball earnings, and others flopped with whatever family member they could manipulate into giving them a roof over their heads. 

But looking at all of them in my groups, I couldn’t tell who was who. 


Hitting Bottom is Different for Each of Us


“The thing about hitting bottom is that, in the middle of it, sometimes you don’t know if you’re really hitting bottom or just bouncing off ledges on your way further down.” ― Frederick Weisel, Teller

One woman, who closely resembled a young Elizabeth Taylor, would stand next to the patient bulletin board and help direct traffic. I assumed she was a staff member. She seemed poised, together, and cheerful. I asked her for directions on my second day out of detox, and she said, “I’m going to that group, just follow me.”

Imagine my shock when it turned out that she was a patient. I am someone who can preen, fluff the hair, and do all those beauty routines, and five minutes later, I still look like an unmade bed. 

Here she was, seemingly self-confident, self-assured, positive, and helpful. I then assumed that she was nearing completion of her treatment to look and act so positive and vital. Wrong again. 


High Bottoms: No Less Painful


Her bottom was not being able to tuck her child into bed one night. Her five-year-old daughter had gone on her first spend the night party. As sometimes happens, long past her usual bedtime, she wanted to go home.

My friend got a phone call about 10:30 to come and get her daughter, which wouldn’t usually be a problem. However, that night, she had taken the opportunity to start drinking earlier in the evening. Since she was too drunk to drive, her husband went instead. 

Leaning down to adjust the covers over her half-sleeping daughter, she fell into the bed. Now her daughter was awake and crying.

My friend entered treatment the next day.


Bottoms Are Just the Last Place We Land


My bottom was an intervention; Kathleen’s was not fulfilling her obligations as a mom, Jake’s was losing his business, and AJ lost a lucrative professional basketball contract.

  • What was your bottom? 
  • Are you grateful that you reached a bottom and survived? 
  • Are you satisfied with your life now?
  • If you decide that your life is not good now, is it because you are using too much and disappointing yourself and others? 

Then you have an excellent opportunity to choose this moment to be your bottom.


Had Enough? Now Take Action 


You can decide that you won’t go any further down to satisfy your addiction. It is a time when you stand up for yourself and choose to make life changes.  

That's right; you can choose this as the lowest moment where you are no longer willing to sacrifice all to get and stay high. It can be your bottom. Click To Tweet 

Make Sound Choices for What You Need to Recover


So you now decide to quit using. With this decision, you’ll stop disappointing yourself and others, if you follow some simple guidelines from others who are in recovery. 

What can you do, and what can you expect? You may need detox, depending on what you have used. Detox is a medical issue; depending on withdrawal or the threats from DT’s or seizures. Get a professional evaluation of your decision to quit using and claim this as your bottom. If you do not need detox, or you have finished your detox, how do you stay in recovery? You’ve got some options for recovery after detox. Some you might consider are:

• Inpatient treatment

• Outpatient treatment

Multiple Types of Recovery Support Meetings

Regardless of how you find support, guidance, and encouragement for your recovery, know that it is easier to stay in recovery with help.


When We Didn’t Pay Attention


I’ve always thought that the quote from Israelmore Ayivor speaks to all the ways we’ve tried to overcome our addiction on our own, and haven’t been successful. “You need to GIVE UP on methods that always give you wrong results… No matter how committed you are with a wrong formula, it always gives a wrong answer. Give up!” 

Many people have tried to recover and hit yet another lower bottom because they keep trying ineffective methods. If this has happened to you, then this bottom can be the last if you do things differently. 


Life is Looking Up 


So, if you’ve decided that your methods haven’t worked and want a different outcome, here’s what’s waiting for you when you reach a bottom and climb.

When you find the right support for you, your life takes on new meaning and purpose. Recovery taught me to view this life as a journey. Now, “journey” is a word I do not like. However, like so many other things in this world of addiction, it is commonly used vernacular or lingo. (Sorry all for that personal bias; I am sure some of the negative association is with the band of the same name.) 

Whether you call your recovery a journey, a second chance, an opportunity to change, or the way up-embrace it, value it,,and know that you do not have to experience another bottom by changing, listening to people in meetings , and finding a way to help others. 



Writing, and recovery heals the heart.


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4 thoughts on “Hitting Bottom: High Ones, Low Ones, and Choosing One

  1. Hi, Cat. Thank you for commenting and encouraging others. You have done so much in your recovery to alert people to the dangers of gambling addiction. Your book is raw, honest, and again, the encouragement that someone may need to face their addictions.

    Again, thank you for all you do in the recovery world.

    For readers: Here’s a link to Catherine Townsend-Lyon’s book, Addicted to Dimes: Confessions of a Liar and a Cheat

  2. Sadly my bottom was BAD, really bad from gambling addiction and alcohol abuse toward the end. I ended up
    with another, thankfully, failed suicide attempt and in the hospital. I had a long way up and hard recovery work
    and inner cleaning to do. But? after 11yrs now maintaining recovery, I have done it!! So many blessings and
    open doors have come and my writing came back too!! XOXO
    So If I can do it, anyone CAN and YOU are worth IT!

    Author, Catherine Townsend-Lyon

  3. Hi, Aaron. Thanks for the comment, and reinforcing that we can choose one. I hear people say it a lot, too, that “I guess I haven’t reached my bottom”, and I’ll ask them if they’d like to choose this point as the lowest they are willing to go. Or if they are tired of their sacrifices. Then ask them what they’ve sacrificed in their addiction. Get the usual – family, career, and finances and then I can sometimes see the light bulb, aha moment that they don’t want to lose more and can control the downward spiral by choosing it as the bottom and working their way back up in life through recovery.

    Again, thanks for comment.

  4. This was a great read, I have to agree that the bottom is what you make it. Some people use the idea that they haven’t hit that point yet to continue using. I think my personal bottom was realizing I had gotten comfortable living there. I was keeping my life as low as it could be for years to give myself permission to keep using. Great post.

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