A Richter Scale of Rock Bottoms

Edited by Paul Alexander

Last updated May 14, 2014

I have experienced so many levels of rock bottom, but I never hit one where I desperately wanted to change on my own for myself. I didn’t have enough positive self-worth at that time to be capable of doing that. It wasn’t until I saw how many people I was affecting that it all clicked. Before that, everything that looked like it should have served as my rock bottom only seemed like a set back to me.

My behaviors were making headlines left and right. I was struck by how much public humiliation I was encountering because of my disease. I wasn’t just getting attention locally, but I was getting it nationally. There is something devastating about having your wreckage displayed for everyone to see. What I was doing was no longer hush-hush, and it hit my family hard. Everyone I loved was visibly uncomfortable, but I kept using anyway.

Then came the arrests. When I would get arrested, it wasn’t like I had this attitude where I didn’t care and I thought everyone else around me was wrong. I would sit in the jail cell and I would be extremely ashamed and feel horrible, but I wasn’t willing to change – not yet at least. Instead, I would just repeat my behaviors when I got out, and the vicious cycle would continue.

It wasn’t until I tried to commit suicide that I even started thinking about possibly getting the help I needed. This part of my life just shows the pattern of the disease in its broadest stroke and what it is able to do to a person. Not only was drinking and drugging killing me, but my thinking was so deranged that I was trying to kill myself before my addiction could.

After my suicide attempt, I really began seeing how much my family was hurting because of what I was doing – even though I wasn’t purposely trying to make them upset. My family is so incredibly tight knit, and I have always known that they are not like the typical family because of this closeness. Now that I am sober today, I can look back and see that my family always threw a pillow down when they knew I was going to fall. To make the changes they needed to make, they had to attend a program so they could learn how to establish boundaries with me and develop a balance that would prevent them from continually enabling me. Eventually, seeing them hurt so deeply drove me to take the first step towards getting sober.

I was so sick of making everyone feel so bad, and I didn’t enjoy feeling the way I was feeling, either. I went from having a fun life to a miserable one, and I couldn’t function any longer without drinking. I could hardly do anything without some level of alcohol in my system.

Today, my work at Northbound is constantly influenced by my own personal experiences with issues such as rock bottoms. I know that basis of treatment is very simple, but it’s a matter of being able to surrender, take guidance, drop the ego and admit to your wrong doings that makes it complex. Getting sober requires a personal drive that I am thankful I found for myself.

Article Reviewed by Paul Alexander

Paul AlexanderPaul Alexander is the founder and CEO of Northbound Treatment. He received his Certified Addiction Treatment Specialist training at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, CA, and was awarded Outstanding Alumni Service Award in 2002. Paul holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminology, Law and Society, Summa Cum Laude, from University of California, Irvine, and a Juris Doctorate degree from Loyola Law School of Los Angeles. He believes wholeheartedly in transformational leadership, organizational health and effective, fully integrated substance use disorder treatment.