Everyone’s bottom in addiction is different. When I was using I certainly felt invincible. Or maybe it’s because I felt like I didn’t have anything left to lose. I had given up, the high was the only thing left that I was seeking. I had no idea the dangers of what I was doing. I had no idea how close to death I had probably become. Strangely, revolving my day around getting inhalants, sacrificing jobs, relationships, my ethics, being in car accident after car accident, and ending up on a television show focused on my addiction still did not convince me I was at my bottom. I still had more fight and I’m sure had I not surrendered, that fight would have led me towards and into death.
I work in the field of addiction now and I hear every one of my clients’ stories. The extremes are different. Some people end up in treatment because their family demanded it and the client feels they haven’t bottomed out yet, that they have it under control. Some have nowhere else to go, they’re living on the street and selling themselves and stealing to maintain their habit. And some are petrified of their addiction, they’ve died before, or have mental impairments from seizures from their use. I hear a lot: “My life isn’t that bad, I haven’t lost all my money, I’m not homeless, I still have a job, there’s no way I’ve bottomed out.”
Here is where I feel the term “bottomed out” can get misconstrued in our heads. We want to believe that we’re ok, that we couldn’t possibly be going through this, that we couldn’t be an addict or an alcoholic. But that’s where I think we are wrong. Although I still had a beautiful apartment, a family that loved me, and someone paying my bills, I was morally and spiritually bankrupt. I couldn’t see it, but I was no longer the Allison to be proud of, I no longer followed the path I believed in. I look at the person I am today and I realize that I did bottom out. I let myself down. Those physical items, those jobs, that apartment near the beach, the money, none of that compares to the person I’ve become without being active in my addiction, compared to that empty shell of a person I was, the pain I felt, the phone calls of tears, and the wishing for death that I was in the midst of my addiction. I no longer cause the people in my life pain, I maintain a job of integrity, but most importantly, I respect myself and I can look in the mirror and not see self-loathing, disappointment, and regret. I abused inhalants for a total of 18 months of my life, but it grabbed on to the pain I was feeling and attempted to fill a void, which took me on a fast track to bottoming out. And I am so grateful that I was fortunate enough to wake up and surrender, and finally realize that enough is enough. Everyone’s level of bottoming out is different. But the results in recovery are all the same. We become a greater version of the selves we all remember loving before addiction took hold of us. And it is absolutely worth it.