Recovery is possible. We are open 24/7. 866-797-7962

Medically Reviewed

What Does it Mean to Hit Rock Bottom in Your Addiction?

- 6 sections

Medically Verified: 2/1/24

Medical Reviewer

Chief Editor


All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

If you have ever known someone who struggled with addiction, you have probably heard the term “hitting rock bottom.” While many people believe that it is necessary to hit rock bottom before they can get sober, this is farthest from the truth.

Hitting rock bottom refers to reaching the lowest point of addiction possible. Everyone’s version of rock bottom is different. However, usually, it is characterized by being unable to function emotionally, psychologically, physically, and spiritually.

While a point of hopelessness and desperation can be a motivator to get sober, it can also mean sustaining irreversible physical and psychological damage. With that being said, it is important to understand exactly what rock bottom is, how to tell if you’ve hit rock bottom, and why waiting to go to treatment is dangerous.

What Does The Term “Hitting Rock Bottom” Mean?

Hitting rock bottom means that you or your loved one has reached their breaking point. To make things simple, hitting rock bottom is the event in which you realize that your addiction is out of control and requires professional help.

For some people, this could mean getting arrested or losing their homes. It could also be the loss of relationships or watching a friend overdose. For others, it may mean reaching such a low mental spot that they are experiencing suicidal thoughts.

Because there are so many variations of what “rock bottom” can look like, it is dangerous to tell people that they must reach rock bottom to recover. For some individuals, addiction is a bottomless pit. In other words, rock bottom may never come, leading them to suffer from fatal consequences of their addiction before they ever take their shot at recovery.

How Do You Know If You’ve Hit Rock Bottom?

It can be difficult to tell if you have hit rock bottom or not. This is because substance use disorders affect everyone differently. However, there are a few signs that could indicate you have reached the infamous “rock bottom”.

Some of the signs of hitting rock bottom include:

  • Losing your job due to substance abuse
  • Getting kicked out of your home, being evicted, or becoming homeless
  • Experiencing serious financial issues due to your addiction
  • Experiencing legal issues
  • Overdosing on drugs or alcohol
  • Dropping out or being kicked out of school
  • Going through a divorce as a result of your addiction
  • Being seriously injured or sick as a result of drug and alcohol abuse
  • Getting a DUI or DWI and possibly hurting others as a result
  • Getting violent or aggressive with people you love

While rock bottom is usually viewed as experiencing severe consequences of addiction, it doesn’t have to be. You may view your “rock bottom” as the point at which you realized drugs and alcohol were controlling your life. However, because many people do not realize they need help, waiting to hit rock bottom could cause you to experience a fatal overdose.

Do You Have to Hit Rock Bottom Before Going to Rehab?

If you are wondering whether you have to hit rock bottom before going to rehab, the short answer is no.

Rock bottom is highly subjective. While one person may view losing their relationship with their loved ones as rock bottom, others may think experiencing multiple overdoses is rock bottom. If everyone waited to hit rock bottom before they attended rehab, the already concerning epidemic of fatal drug overdoses would skyrocket.

In other words, you can attend treatment at any point in your addiction. Whether you just began abusing drugs a week ago or you have been struggling with addiction for 10 years, rehab programs are available to help you.

The best time to attend treatment is the moment that you realize that your addiction is negatively impacting your life.

The Benefits of Seeking Treatment Sooner Rather Than Later

The main benefit of seeking treatment sooner rather than later is evading adverse consequences such as jail or death. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Nearly 92,000 persons in the U.S. died from a drug-involved overdose in 2020.”[1] And, unfortunately, with fentanyl becoming increasingly common, this number may continue to rise.

Additional benefits of early intervention for addiction include:

  • Getting help before developing physical health conditions
  • Preventing yourself from getting blood-borne diseases like HIV from needle sharing
  • Maintaining relationships with your loved ones
  • Experiencing less severe withdrawal symptoms during detox
  • Having an easier time adjusting to a sober lifestyle
  • Having a longer amount of time ahead of you to enjoy life
  • Preventing yourself from losing your job, house, or getting into serious financial debt
  • Ensuring that you do not end up in jail, an institution, or dead

Deciding to get sober is never easy. There may be bumps in the road and things may seem too difficult. However, once you get the hang of sobriety, it is a much easier lifestyle than addiction can provide.

How to Ask for Help After Hitting Rock Bottom

Asking for help can be difficult, but it is worth it. If you have hit rock bottom, the first thing that you need to do is find compassion for yourself. Realizing you have a problem and need help is one of the most important and impressive things you can do.

Next, you must talk with someone you love and trust. If you have a family member or friend who has dealt with addiction before, talking to them is a good idea. If not, therapists and counselors are trained to help you find the resources and support you need.

Once you have opened up and asked for help, you will probably feel a weight lifted off your shoulders. While attending addiction treatment is scary, it will be much easier than struggling with addiction and all of the damage it can cause.

Find Addiction Help for Yourself or a Loved One

If you or a loved one suffer from addiction, don’t wait to ask for help. Carolina Recovery Center can help you gain the tools you need to recover from addiction – no matter where you are at.

Contact Carolina Recovery Center today to learn more about our addiction and alcoholism treatment programs.