At a meeting you will invariably hear someone speak about their bottom. This was the point where they were most active in their addiction just prior to coming into the program. Those bottoms had many levels. Some people had reached low bottoms which included serious health issues, problems with the law and broken relationships. Then there were those with high bottoms. These were people who were still able to maintain some degree of functionality. They entered the program as well because they realized that alcohol, drugs and food would ultimately result in a continued downward spiral.
There is another kind of bottom which can be found in the rooms of AA, NA and OA. In it, are people who have given up their drug of choice; so as far as substances go, they are technically sober. Yet the reality is that they are far from it. They are the ones who refuse to work their program. They rarely call their sponsor. Long periods go by without their attending a meeting. The steps are something they take to go up a flight of stairs as opposed to 12 guidelines for emotional sobriety. Once you become a dry drunk, having a slip becomes a much greater possibility. We need to be truly sober in all of our affairs.
Personal Reflection: Do some of my behaviors fit that of a dry drunk?
It took a long time for some of us to make it into the rooms. Part of the reason is that we had a distorted view of who filled the seats in our program. We often had the view that alcoholics were men from the Bowery, drug addicts were all daily crack smokers or heroin users and food addicts were only people who were obese. Since we didn’t fit into any of these categories, we reasoned that we did not belong in the program. Still, on some intuitive level, or perhaps because someone was trying to 12 step us, or perhaps because of problems at home or at work; we sensed that we had a problem.
Then one day someone said to us, “do you have a desire to stop drinking, drugging or binging”? Nowhere in that question was a reference to how much we used. There was no magic number that if we hit it we qualified for the program. Rather, it was a more personalized question. Is your alcohol, food or drug usage no longer working for you. What mattered was how it was affecting your life; not how much was being ingested. That’s when we became ready to finally enter the program.
Personal Reflection: How did I finally realize that I was using too much?
Somewhere along our road of recovery we have all entertained the same thought. We say to ourselves, “after X years of sobriety, maybe I could drink, or drug or use again”. This rationalization is all the more attractive to people who had high bottoms. They say, “I didn’t drink every day and I never missed a day of work”. Or, “I only binged or used to excess occasionally”. On the surface, this sounds like it makes a lot of sense. Aren’t we older and wiser now? We weren’t really that bad were we? The reality is that high bottoms have trap doors. Time and time again, people have gone out to test these waters, only to find that their descent into their addiction of choice was rapid and all encompassing. The main reason this happens is that our “isms” pre-dated our using. Although we had worked on ourselves in program, all those character defects came roaring back once we picked up that drink or that drug. In addition, perhaps we had an unrealistic view as to just how high our bottom actually was. Alcoholics and addicts are notorious for minimizing how much they used. Regardless, high or low bottom, the trap door is always waiting to open.
Personal Reflection: Is there a part of me that believes I can use safely?