In the 12-step rooms, there’s a lot of talk about hitting bottom, of coming to a place of total desperation, of admitting powerlessness. But how do you know if you’re really powerless? You wonder if maybe you just haven’t found the right solution. You don’t have a DUI charge, you haven’t lost your job and your family is still intact. Yet your drinking concerns you. Is that reason enough to get sober and stay sober? Or do you have to spend the next years of your life sinking deeper and deeper before you’ll qualify for recovery?
Here are some ways to figure out if you’ve hit bottom:
In addition to all we hear about powerlessness within the 12-step rooms, there’s also a lot of talk of being sick and tired of being sick and tired. In short, exasperation. Many of us got to the point of being tired of our own broken promises and tired of handing ourselves over to the booze, looking for fun or comfort, only to find ourselves put through the wringer time and again. At some point we wake up, we decide we want better and we kiss alcohol goodbye just like any bad lover. You can stop the inevitable before it happens.
An Uneasy Conscience
Perhaps you know you drink a little too much (or a lot too much), but you examine your life and believe it’s still functional. Maybe when you drink you don’t even consistently get drunk, and depending on the part of the world you live in, your drinking might even be considered normal, or at least not suggestive of a drinking problem. But something inside you doesn’t feel right about it.
You feel shame, your conscience doesn’t sit right and you wallow in remorse for drinking when you had planned not to or for overindulging yet again. You may not be experiencing a hangover, but you don’t like the way you feel when you wake up in the morning and you’re having a hard time making the decisions you want to make around alcohol. Good news — you can stop justifying your drinking. Regardless of statistics and recommended daily allowances, only you know what’s happening on the inside. If your drinking brings you down, you have all the reason in the world to quit.
Having a glass of wine alone from time to time isn’t necessarily an issue, but buying and hiding liquor to consume in secret might be. Do you snag a drink or two before you meet up with the gang? Do you go out and drink with others and then come home and have more after everyone else has gone to bed? Do you keep secret stashes at home or work? Do you drink an “acceptable” quantity when in the presence of others but binge when solo?
Again, you may not be falling-down drunk, but you are inherently conscious of the fact that you drink beyond what’s normal for your family or peer group and thus feel the need to hide at least a portion of your consumption. This kind of behavior doesn’t lead to any kind of good outcome. If you can’t quit the secret drinking, if you don’t believe you could ever reveal how much you drink to others, it’s probably time to quit altogether.
Others Are Expressing Concern
If the people you trust and who love you are commenting on your drinking, even in a joking manner, it might be worth looking at if you haven’t already. Problem drinkers and alcoholics tend to believe they’re very sly, perfectly navigating the social waters to mask any sign of unhealthy patterns. However, we’re often not as adept at disguising the problem as we may think. People are on to us long before we’re ready to admit a problem. If people are concerned or your drinking is a topic of conversation, it’s worth looking at.
You Try to Quit or Moderate, and Fail
Think back over the last year or two. How many times have you tried to cut back your drinking or quit altogether? How many times have you promised yourself you’d do better? And how many times have you been able to stick to those good intentions?
If you consistently try to put boundaries around your drinking and find that you cannot, and that bothers you, that’s bottom enough to get sober. Alcoholism is a progressive disease. It gets worse, not better. If awareness of your overconsumption isn’t enough to rectify it, consider sobriety.
Alcoholism comes in many forms, and it usually looks nothing like the stereotype of the falling-down drunk that none of us can identify with. Bottom is where you make it. It’s the point at which you say, “Enough.” Sobriety and recovery are not exclusively for those who’ve lost everything. We can redefine the meaning of “bottom” to include those who see themselves losing the game with alcohol and who want to withdraw before things get ugly. If you think your drinking is a problem, it probably is. Get help today.