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13 Signs of Addiction that Show You’re Nearing Rock Bottom

What is rock bottom for an addict?

This is a question people ask all the time because they believe that an addict has to lose everything before they can recover from addiction. But the truth is, waiting to get help until after losing your health, your career, your family, your freedom, and everything else that matters to you, will make recovery far more challenging, and even worse—some things you’ve lost may be gone forever if you wait too long.

You’ll be much better off paying attention to the signs of addiction that show your life is in a downward spiral, so you can take action well before you actually reach rock bottom. The sooner you seek help for your addiction, the better off you’ll be.

13 Signs of Addiction that Show You’re Nearing Rock Bottom

You don’t want to hit rock bottom. You want to recognize the downward spiral you’re in before you hit rock bottom. Here are 13 signs of addiction that should tell you to get treatment before you lose too much.

1. Your days revolve around drugs or alcohol.

If most of your daily decisions and actions are based on getting, using, or recovering from addictive substances, then you are not in charge of your life; addiction is.

2. You spend money you don’t have or that should be spent on important things on drugs or alcohol.

When you find yourself spending your rent money on drugs or the grocery money on alcohol, this is a major red flag. If you can’t meet your financial obligations because of your substance abuse, you need to get help.

3. You aren’t acting like yourself.

A life that revolves around drinking or getting high can lead to severe mood swings, an irrational burst of anger, taking frightening risks, and doing things that are against your core beliefs. Soon you no longer recognize or like yourself.

4. You’re getting sick.

If you feel bad most of the time, or have drug or alcohol-related illnesses, such as kidney disease or HIV, it’s time to face the fact that addiction is damaging your body, and you need to get treatment before it kills you.

 5. You’ve hurt or lost relationships.

Addiction has a way of damaging relationships. You may have lost some friends and family members who are no longer a part of your life, and your relationships with those who remain are likely strained, damaged, hostile, painful, or distant. You won’t be able to heal those connections and enjoy positive, loving relationships that are mutually beneficial again until you get the treatment you need, and delaying treatment may cause you to lose the people you love forever.

6. You’re screwing up at work.

Getting fired, losing pay because you’re too high or sick to show up to work, getting passed over for promotions or raises, and generally messing up on the job should tell you that you’re nearing a professional bottom.

7. You use to escape.

Drinking or using drugs as a way of escaping conflicts, negative emotions, and/or a life you aren’t happy with is a sure-fire way to accelerate your descent towards rock bottom. Substances can temporarily distract you from hard times, but overall, they will only make a bad situation worse, while creating new problems and additional suffering.

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8. You’re in legal trouble.

Losing your license due to DUIs, getting fined for drunken behavior, or getting arrested for stealing money to buy drugs are just a few of the ways addiction can get you into legal trouble. Make sure to recognize this downhill slide now, before you lose months, years, or decades of incarceration, and get a record that will haunt you for the rest of your life.

9. You hurt people without meaning to.

Addiction can lead to behavior that is hurtful, both emotionally and physically. Pay attention to the hearts you break, the feelings you hurt, and the bruises you leave behind. These are all signs to get treatment now, before you completely crush someone you love, or take someone’s life through intoxicated driving or drug-induced violence.

10. You can’t escape your shame and embarrassment.

Being drunk or high all the time can lead to all kinds of embarrassing and humiliating situations. It can lead you to behave in ways that make you feel ashamed. These feelings linger, and the longer you keep using or drinking, the more reasons you’ll have to feel them, and the harder it will be to work through and move past them in treatment.

11. You keep taking or drinking more over time.

If you need to take or drink a lot more now to feel high or drunk, than you had to when you first started using, that means you’ve developed a tolerance to your substance of choice. High consumption of addictive substances puts you at a much greater risk of health complications, brain damage, and overdose. Often, your brain and body adjust to the intoxicating effects of a substance much faster than they adjust to the physical effects, which means that the amount of oxycodone you need to take to feel high could potentially put you in a coma.

12. You have a mental health disorder.

Some people start drinking or using to self-medicate a mental health issue like depression or panic attacks, and some people develop mental health issues as a result of their drug or alcohol use. Either way, mental illness makes addiction worse and addiction makes mental illness worse. Treatment for both problems is necessary to avoid a crash landing at rock bottom.

13. You have tried and failed to quit on your own.

You might have already tried to quit drugs and alcohol before, but gave up because the cravings or withdrawal symptoms were too much for you to bear. This is not a true failure, but merely a sign that you have a legitimate addiction that requires professional treatment.

The Myth of Waiting to Hit Rock Bottom

The idea that an addict has to hit rock bottom before they can recover from addiction is a myth. First of all, there is no set bottom that applies to all people. One person may feel like they’ve lost everything when their spouse asks for a divorce, even though they still have a job and their health, while someone else would need to be in jail, suffering from advanced liver disease, before they would feel like they’ve hit bottom. Second, some addicts never get the chance to hit rock bottom, because they overdose and die before their lives fall apart.

The rock bottom myth is damaging and dangerous. It encourages people to keep drinking or using under the misapprehension that they aren’t “low” enough to get help yet, and it promotes the false and hurtful idea that addiction treatment is a punishment and that loving kindness is somehow counterproductive to recovery.

Believing this myth can cause an addict to destroy their health and lose everything that matters to them because they or the people in their lives have been fed the lie that you have to be completely broken and desperate to give up drugs and alcohol. The truth is that addiction drags you down lower and lower, but you can stop the descent and start climbing back up with treatment any time you want to. Whenever you are ready to seek treatment is the right time for recovery, regardless of how little or how much damage addiction has inflicted on your life.

The idea of rock bottom isn’t completely off-base, however. It’s true that addicts are usually in some degree of denial, from seeing they have a problem but thinking it’s no big deal, to denying that there is anything wrong at all. When an addict in denial loses something important to them or is forced to face serious consequences related to addiction behavior, they may finally recognize the severity of their addiction and admit they need treatment. It is also true that addicts can choose to stick with addiction behavior because it is a comfort to them, and because they are scared of giving up drugs and alcohol and starting a new life that they have a hard time even imagining. Loss and consequences may help them recognize that the comfort of substance abuse pales in comparison to the destruction caused by addiction and that stepping into the unknown is actually less scary than continuing on their current path.

However, you don’t have to lose everything to be able to recognize the negative consequences of addiction. It is enough to recognize that you could lose everything and that getting help is the only way to make sure you hold onto the things that matter most in your life. You will recover faster and more successfully if you get treatment when you still have family, friends, work, school, or other things to support and motivate you.

The Dangers of Believing the Rock Bottom Myth

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Don’t wait until you hit rock bottom; seek treatment help today!

Believing in the myth of rock bottom causes people to delay seeking treatment, which in turn leads to physical, mental, social, and professional consequences, some of which may be too extreme to remedy. Drugs and alcohol use can damage your internal organs, cause you to contract blood born diseases, make your skin and teeth rot, damage your reproductive organs and unborn child, damage your brain, put you in a coma, or kill you. It can also damage your mental health due to physical changes in your brain’s structure and chemistry, causing mood swings, depression, anxiety, uncontrolled violence, cognitive impairment and dementia, paranoia, psychosis, hallucinations, and suicidal thoughts and actions. Ignoring the signs of drug addiction because you haven’t yet hit “rock bottom,” could have catastrophic, irreparable consequences.

The rock bottom myth also promotes the stigma of addiction by blaming the addict for their continued substance use—i.e., if they don’t succeed in treatment or they relapse after treatment, they must not have wanted it badly enough. This is rarely the case. Failed treatment or relapse is merely another aspect of the disease, and is usually a sign that a different treatment, treatment approach, or lifestyle change is needed to support the addict’s recovery.

For any addict, detox is the first step in addiction treatment. Furthermore, while motivation is important in addiction treatment, it isn’t always necessary. Treatment doesn’t have to be voluntary for recovery to be successful. Studies have shown that people can overcome their addictions even when they are forced into treatment by their families, employers, or the legal system. Once in a treatment program, an individual may immediately start to benefit, heal, and grow in their recovery, without ever hitting rock bottom or even choosing treatment of their own free will.

How to Get Sober Quickly

Addiction treatment is not a one-size-fits-all thing, but there are certain elements that should be a part of everyone’s recovery experience.

Trying to detox on your own at home is both physically dangerous, and a good way to set yourself up for failure. The safer, smarter approach is to seek a professional detox at an addiction treatment facility that can provide you with medical monitoring, and any medications or therapies you may need to successfully guide you through your withdrawal and on to addiction recovery. Detox is covered by insurance, and there are also low and no cost detox programs available. Talk to your insurance provider about coverage, consult with rehab facilities near you, or contact a resource like for advice. Our facility directory can help you find quality addiction treatment near you. If you need more help finding the right detox center, call 800-996-6135(Who Answers?) to discuss your options.

A successful detox is a wonderful first step to recovery, but it is only the first step. Counseling, behavioral therapy, peer support groups, and positive lifestyle changes are all key to healing the wounds of addiction and creating a life that promotes healthy choices and continued sobriety. You can overcome addiction with a professional helping hand.

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