Hitting rock bottom from drinking: 7 signs and symptoms

Drinking is not bad in and of itself. But how frequently you drink and how alcohol affects your life can become not only unhelathy, but dangerous. Plus, problem drinking can isolate you.  Problem drinking can affect your career. And your health. So what are the signs that you've hit rock bottom from drinking?

Here, we review 7 signs and symptoms of hitting rock bottom from alcohol. They're organized in terms of what we think is most important to know that you've hit a wall. But know that there is hope. If you've hit rock bottom, you can only go back up again.

Signs of hitting rock bottom from alcohol

1. Acknowledging that you have a problem
The first symptom of hitting rock bottom is to actually identify the drinking problem in the first place. Lots of times, we can be in denial, thinking that we are drinking normally. We might think that we are social drinkers and are in control of ourselves. However, if you are drinking more than 4 drinks a day for men or more than 3 drinks for women, you have an alcohol related problem.

2. Emotional pain
Hitting rock bottom from drinking can feel impossible to change. But those that truly hit rock bottom NEED to change. And their desperation for something new is motivated by pain.  But this is a mixed blessing. Pain snaps us out of the addictive cycle and get us living correctly again.

3. Readiness to change
A vital way to evaluate whether or not your "bottom" has arrived is to evaluate your readiness for change. If you're re-thinking your drinking...this is a great sign!  And one that can serve you well.

4. Problems, problems, problems
Another characteristic sign that you've hit rock bottom from drinking is that you have not fulfilled your responsibilities at home, work, or school because of drinking. You might also have recently put yourself or others in dangerous situations (like driving under the influence) or have legal or social problems (such as arrests or arguments with family members) due to drinking.  The bad new is: you have to deal with them. The good news is that if you've really hit rock bottom and are ready for change, you dont have to deal with them ever again.

5. Physical or psychological dependence on alcohol
Those who have hit rock bottom are not always physically dependent on alcohol. While some people may need to go through detox to pass through alcohol withdrawal, others experience only cravings for alcohol or the loss of control while drinking. Still, what people who hit rock bottom have in common is alcoholism - a chronic condition that can be avoided by abstaining from alcohol.

6. Telling others about your drinking problem
A true bottom occurs when you open up and let others in on your pain. Telling someone you trust like a doctor, or friend, or family member about problem drinking shows that you're not holding on to the past. It's likely that someone can relate to you and your story, or connect you with someone who's been in your shoes. As bad as it's gotten for you, someone else's bottom may have been worse!

7. Guilt and shame
The "negative" emotions of guilt and shame can be healthy for someone hitting rock bottom.  However, we don't need to be stuck in the past. Whatever that has happened as the result of problem drinking can be avoided in the future. And while guilt and shame can be present during a rock bottom, dwelling there is not useful. Feel them, and get out!

Hitting rock bottom from alcohol questions
Got questions about hitting rock bottom? Leave them here. We are here to help, and can refer you as best as we can to treatment for alcohol problems.

Reference Sources: NIAAA: Rethinking Drinking, Alcohol and Your Health http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/RethinkingDrinking/Rethinking_Drinking.pdf