An absolute definition of the word “bottom” for an alcoholic is not possible unless it is kept so simple it would lose meaning. The reason for this is that it moves. It’s different from one drunk to the next. By my estimation of the definition, I thought I had a pretty high bottom but then I heard a guy describe drinking five or six beers as “alcoholic”. That was breakfast, so maybe I was a little farther down the scale than I thought.
One possible explanation of “bottom” is this: It’s the wonderful place where you don’t know how you can continue living with alcohol but you’re certain you can’t live without it. That fits me pretty well actually. I sobered up long enough ago that my State actually paid for my treatment but budget cuts and abuse of the system relegated that to the way of the dinosaur years ago. To describe this so that a normal person can understand what the drunk goes though is extremely difficult because it’s tough to get the “feeling” right on paper. Giving it the proper “weight” is the difficulty. In some literature it’s described as Incomprehensible Demoralization – and that description gives you, the normal person, the key: You can’t comprehend the demoralization if you don’t live through it – it is that bad. I’ve heard people describe it as losing a best friend or an appendage, in fact I’ve described it like that, but that doesn’t go far enough because it’s not the losing that hurts – it’s having to figure out how to walk away from the one thing that made you OK, even if it stopped doing so years before. In terms of appendages, it was more like trying to figure out how to chew my arm off and walk away from it.
I’ve heard one aspect described this way: “When I started, drinking it was all fun. Then it was fun with problems. Then it was all trouble”.
Now add to that the need to get back to where it was all fun again but still drink to oblivion every day and you can start getting a grasp of just how desperate those last years, months and days are. We drunks are quite literally stuck between two boulders with no knife.
There is hope though, because as real as those thoughts seem, the hopelessness of walking from a lopped off appendage is entirely false. Of course, when you’re sitting in the middle of it, it’s almost impossible to see that it’s more like walking away from an abusive relationship. If you hang on long enough and get help, you can quickly come to see the freedom, joy and happiness that you get back. I realized that I gave them up for a bottle. There are dozens of benefits to the alcoholic who chooses recovery – spirituality, health, more money (or better use of those funds at least)… Freedom, joy and happiness are among the most amazing.
Sure, if you do it right you’ll probably wind up sounding a little odd to normal folks (I can at times). Some may even accuse you of being “cult-ish”. In the end, you can’t please everyone so you may as well please yourself.