Hitting Bottom in Addiction

February 25, 2013 Karl Shallowhorn, MS, CASAC

Jails, institutions and death. These are the ends of addiction. And as far as the death part is concerned, it doesn’t always mean physical death. Have you ever watched the TV series, The Walking Dead? Well, that’s what addiction can do to a person, metaphorically speaking. The addict is devoid of any real kind of life source and is simply feeding off of others to maintain his existence.

The Downward Spiral of Addiction

Okay, I may be exaggerating a bit, but think about it. Addiction can suck the life out of a person. Whereas a person may have at one time been a functioning member of society, she may end up on the downward spiral of dependence that can be incredibly difficult to arrest. Eventually, things get to the point of what is often called “hitting bottom.” You know - the DWI or other legal issue, broken relationship, lost job, mental collapse, etc. Whatever the consequence, things have simply fallen apart.

The Way Out

For me, it was years of manic episodes followed by horrendous depressive crashes that began to take their toll. I came to realize that I could not use drugs safely. This hitting bottom caused me to take a look at my life and I could not bear the prospect of living in such a state of uncertainty and pending calamity. Fear of the future set in and I knew I had to do something. For me, this came in the form of getting involved in self-help. This coupled with professional counseling provided me with a healthy way to work through my addiction and find a way out.

For others, the way out may be through counseling alone or through spiritual methods. Whatever the means, typically it can rarely be done alone. Addiction is such a strong force. It often originates before the person picks up that first drink, drug or behavior. The way I look at it, addiction is simply a matter of degrees. Human beings are addictive by nature. It just depends on a matter of severity. But when the addictive behavior begins to interfere with one’s life roles then something needs to be done.

Addiction also has a way of manipulating our field of vision and interactions with others. This is typically manifested through defense mechanisms that serve to attempt to protect our using. “Sure, it’s my second DWI, but I don’t really have a drinking problem.”

In the end, you don’t have to hit bottom to arrest your disease. In fact, it is possible to stop the downward spiral before things get completely out of control. But this requires taking an honest look at oneself and admitting that there is a problem. It is through this admission that true freedom begins. Recovery is possible!

APA Reference
Shallowhorn, K. (2013, February 25). Hitting Bottom in Addiction, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 22 from

Author: Karl Shallowhorn, MS, CASAC

March, 10 2013 at 3:29 am

Great article, Karl. Everyone's bottom is different but the feelings are usually relate-able.

February, 26 2013 at 12:18 am

seems theres no "way out" foo
r me- i run off anyonoe who tries to help me. how do you save someone from themsellf?!?

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

February, 26 2013 at 2:22 am

suzie - I think it all begins with surrender. By surrendering to our illness, we acknowledge that we need help. Like I said, it's hard to do this by ourselves. I'm not sure what you mean by "run off" but I'm guessing that you've had difficulty with relationships. This can be particularly difficult and can take time, but it is possible to mend some of those fences. By putting down the drug we can then begin to repair the broken relationships in our lives.

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