What is “Rock Bottom” – Is it a Destination?

October 1, 2016
Solace Asia

Rock bottom is
said to be the pit of despair, in which devastation is so total that the only
way is up and out of it. Most people tell addicts who have gone out on a binge
or have relapsed that unless they have reached this place, they would not give
up their addiction. For some people, rock bottom happens after seeing minor
changes in life that have seemingly personal dramatic outcomes like gaining one
kilogram of weight; whilst others, it may be a lifelong jail sentence. For most
people, rock bottom finds itself somewhere between these two extremes. Sadly,
many will never find their rock bottom, and it is in their name that I write
against waiting for this illusive destiny of changing once having hit “rock

It is this crowd
of people who teach us that rock bottom is not a destination, but a state of
mind: some people have it and others, don’t. Furthermore, it is absurd to wait
for rock bottom to treat addiction if it is regarded as an illness because will
one wait for an asthmatic to stop breathing before treating him/her or would
one wait for a cancer patient to succumb to his/her cancer prior to treatment?
It’s far too late and I like what one
posting had to say about rock bottom that sums up the need to treat
addiction before so-called “rock bottoms”: “

How did we get a philosophy of “Rock Bottom” being a

According to the
AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) movement, which began in 1935, addicts would not have
the means of recovery unless they had reached a pit of despair that had the
power to change their course of life. The attitudes and behaviors necessary for
a daily reprieve of addiction came from practicing what was termed as
“spiritual principles”, which could only come about from a complete psychic
change that was a result of significant despair, remorse, and regret of the
addictive lifestyle. As it states in the big book of AA states that:

Yet, most AAs
practice “high bottoms” or borrow their rock bottoms from other people who have
had it worse off than themselves. Furthermore, they encourage newcomers to
adopt this perspective to avoid unnecessary suffering and pain, which will
inevitably follow a serious rock bottom. Hence, even the originators of “rock
bottom” as a destination for complete recovery, do not suggest one to
experience the full wrath of what this ominous place has in store for the
stubborn and rebellious.

The Safer Option: Hitting Recovery Before Hitting
“Rock Bottom”!

What does it mean
to hit recovery before hitting rock bottom? Below are some things either you or
a loved one could do to avoid reaching rock bottom, yet get the outcomes of a
fruitful recovery:


– When we begin to realize that our
addiction brought us to a bad enough place and we stop comparing how bad others
got as a means to justify continuous addiction, we will open ourselves up to
the fruits of our own recovery.


Carefully look at an honest inventory of losses due to addiction and adopt them
as a rock bottom of sorts. It doesn’t need to be dramatic or horrific to
qualify. The fact that it is a “loss” qualifies enough to be reason for change.


– If there is persistence to find a really
destructive rock bottom, then, listen, read, and be open to the horrific
experiences of others who have just come out of active addiction. Let their
story inspire you or your loved one to seek help before it inevitably strikes.
Addiction ultimately ONLY leads to one of three outcomes: Jails, Institutions,
and Death!


– If you or your loved one has lived
unmanageably due to the intake of chemicals and or certain deviant behaviors,
seek help immediately without waiting for rock bottoms.


– Many people talk about the downward
spiral and how fear is a motivating factor for change. How about the upward
spiral and the ability to improve our lot in life? Ask yourself or your loved
one, what you/he/she wants most in life and if treatment is the first step in getting
there, take the plunge! Experience indicates that positive motivation works
better than fear aversion as a means for self-improvement, and addiction
treatment is the ultimate attempt at improving oneself!

Why is it important to disregard “rock bottom” as a

There have been
many tragedies that have occurred resultant of believing in some ethereal “rock
bottom” in existence. Ultimately, it stops addicts from taking action presently
when it is necessary to get treatment for their addiction. There are other
reasons why it is important to disregard “rock bottom” from being part of the
recovery paradigm, such as:

 Telling an addict that he/she is incapable of change
unless he/she has experienced “rock bottom” denies the very vulnerabilities
they have experienced in active addiction. It also encourages them to go out
and experience the addiction until it gets really bad, and for some it may
actually lead them to death itself!

“Rock Bottoms” fit in with a “hopelessness
or powerlessness” paradigm. It removes the addict from any notion of being
responsible for his/her life by beginning the recovery process as soon as
possible. Addicts are indeed hopeless/powerless when in active addiction, but
once recovery is attained, they are then empowered to live a life worth their

Addicts in active addiction, no matter
where they are on the addictive spectrum are a uniquely gifted resource to the
world if only they would get their act straight. Many have died in the attempt
to reach that illusive frontier called, “rock bottom”, resulting in much loss
of untapped talent. The futility of this loss of usefulness to humankind is
much grieved and could be avoided by not giving into the wispiness of reaching
“rock bottom” as a means to begin recovery!

Usually people who exert that unless one
has reached “rock bottom” or is done with it, want little to do with the person
who is struggling with addiction. This is an uncaring and unhelpful strategy to
protect oneself in recovery so as not to get too emotionally involved with
someone who is a danger to him/herself and others. Such boundaries will help those
who are trying to keep sober, but in the long run, is uncaring and unhelpful to
the one who is seeking help to recover. What’s needed is to refer the person in
question to an authority who can help rather than give uncaring or unhelpful
advice. Support the person in his/her struggles, which in the long run will
still uplift one’s recovery anyhow. Hence, there is no need to pursue the
argument for “rock bottoms” as a means to vilify addicts into recovery.

The difference at Solace Asia Addiction Retreat!

Here at Solace
Sabah, we endeavor to help you or your loved one till you or your loved one
loves yourselves. We refrain from asking our clients to reach “rock bottom” as
we recognize its futility and damage. Hence, rest assured, you or your loved
one will be well looked after when you come to us!

A quote from “Soberdude1”, taken from:

Taken from:

[3] Taken from Ibid.

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