There is no such thing as rock bottom. In my opinion. In my experience. It can and will certainly get worse next time, if I use again. It always does. The runs get shorter and the consequences get worse. I can’t remember how many times I swore off booze, only to drink again, many times the same day. How many nights I sat up, face in my hands praying to God to help me stop. How many times I’ve sat in a jail or prison cell, knowing that I was done. That I’d finally had enough. I mean, I’m just being real. I’ve lost friends. I’ve overdosed twice. I’ve been homeless. I’ve been to prison. So where the hell is the bottom then? Death? One would think that any one or number of these experiences would be enough to provide an addict with some clean time. And for me, they usually did. But for whatever reason, I always seemed to go right back at it again- like a dog returning to his own vomit for a late night snack. I guess we addicts are slow learners and quick forgetters. For some reason or another, when we addicts tend to think back on our using days; until we know that we are truly licked that is, we tend to only think back on all the fun times. The festivals, the days we had seemingly unlimitted money, etc. but we somehow seem to forget all of the desperation, humiliation, and absolutely horrible times, like being robbed at gun point. But what stands out to me, is why do these types of bottoms not affect us like they would a regular joe? And I think the answer to this is compromise.
We addicts find our bottoms one compromise at a time. Just like recovery is a process, and relapse is a process, the act of finding a bottom is a process of its own. A long, drawn out process, by making one compromise that conflicts with our inner most self and our moral compasses at a time. And what’s interesting about all of this, is, as we are over years and decades- making said compromises, we are slowly conditioning ourselves and becoming more and more used to the incomprehensible demoralization. Our Identities slow change, our personalities slowly change, we become actual biproducts of our environments. Environments that we ourselves put us in, as a result of an attempt to escape reality, feel optimal, or just fit in- because we don’t feel bonded at home, or with our family. And round and round we go. And what comes along with this, is our ability to just accept things for what they are. Consequences and all. “I’m a drug addict, and this is what I pay to play the game.” “I’m an alcoholic, and this is all part of my chosen lifestyle.” Bottom after bottom after bottom. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes I guess. At least that’s what they say anyways. I have probably bottomed out about 500 times throughout my life, and I mean Bottom son. I am what I refer to as a Deep Bottom Addict. I will go and go until the whole shit house is up in flames, and then use those flames to cook my dope in a spoon one more time. I don’t fucking stop. And this is my own doing. As a result of the Choices I made at the ripe old age of 15 years old. And those choices, I surmise, were a direct result of extensive trauma and neglect. But I digress on the latter. As most of you know, I started using at 15 and I have a million reasons to suspect why. But my main thought that comes to mind now, is that I just wanted to feel like I belonged somewhere. And you know what’s weird? Is I still feel that way. And I am not afraid to share my feelings and get vulnerable, but literally, all I want is to feel loved, appreciated, and Like I have a purpose. I think that’s what we all want deep down inside, but were all supposed to “stay out of our feelins dawg. But anyways.
So I began using to fit in, to feel good, and to feel like belonged somewhere. And as my love affair with chemicals progressed and the bottoms began to occur, it was weird, it was like “this is all part of it”- similar to an NFL player who misses a couple weeks with a sore hamstring. These are the breaks, this is who I am, and this is the shit that happens. But whats interesting about the drug culture, is the very thing that causes the bottom, is the same thing that I use to Mask or “cure” the bottom. To stay numb from the wreckage that the drug is causing. And this is the insanity of drug abuse.
I would find myself sitting in a jail cell, dope sicker than hell, puking on myself, covered in goosebumps, sneezing like a fucking banshee and hating myself, and I remember standing in the nasty ass jail showers where the water is either ice cold, or scalding hot, and as the water made my skin turn pink from the intense heat and I stood there full of self loathing All I could think was “I deserve this” “This is my life, I earned this”. But I was never really able to honestly look at my life and design a way out. It was what I was used to. And I think this is the pattern of recidivism. We bottom out, we go to jail, were used to it, it sucks, we start to feel better, we get out, and we go right back to the environment from which we came. Yep, thats it. And so nothing ever changes, at least not in this cycle. We addicts are in insane, tough as nails bunch, on the outside. But on the inside, we just want to feel complete. we want to feel seen, like we matter and that someone believes in us. And That I believe is how we actually spur about change and create a bottom. Which is funny. Ya know how they say life can only be lived forward, and understood backwards? Well, I only know this because it happened to me, years ago. When the sheriff, and my attorney went to absolute battle for me, and the sheriff stood in the hallway thanking me for my hard work and promising to put in a good word for me- that was my bottom, with 11 months clean. That was my intervention. Undeserved love, grace, mercy, and favor. It cut through my years-long-conditioned-false-identity like a hot knife through butter.
“Wait, someone sees some good in me? I am worth going to bat for? You appreciate me?” “I am so much more than just an in and out, jail bird, drug addict, piece of shit?” “I’ll be damned”. And that, brought my bottom up to meet me where I was at, in that moment and in that place.
You see, at least for me, the negative, harsh, scary events, bottoms, and consequences never really struck me. They never really pricked my heart. I was so conditioned to them, that it was like a walk in the park most of the time. Don’t get me wrong, it was not fun, but it was what I was used to. I was NOT used to, however, someone going out of their way, who had absolutely zero reason to do so, to show me some human kindness. Some actual love and grace, and that, I believe is how we break through. Like my Guy Johann in his Ted talk says, “The opposite of addiction is NOT sobriety, the opposite of addiction, is RELATIONSHIP.” Connection. Love. Kindness. And on the flip side, I believe that this idea here, is what differentiates counselors, therapists, clinicians, etc… Some are “interested” in drug addiction, and want to help people, and others are passionate about it, because they have been impacted by it in some way. And it shows. If you truly have a heart and a true passion for helping people, and are patient enough to work with drug addicts, it is the most rewarding thing in the world that I could ever imagine doing.
I have said this for years now, we cannot arrest our way out of the addiction epidemic. Addiction is not punitive. We cannot punish drug addicts for doing what drug addicts do. That would be like arresting a diabetic for eating too much sugar and letting their levels get out of whack. It doesn’t make sense. If you want to truly help someone, the most important thing you could ever do, is simply just listen to them. Understand them. And love them as fiercely as you can.