Principle 4: Hitting bottom while still on top

by GYE (See all authors)

Often a person is not truly ready to admit they have a problem, seek help and be willing to make real changes in their lives unless they have “hit bottom” first. “Hitting bottom” means that one’s life has truly become unmanageable. This can come about through the realization that they are unable to lead a normal life, a normal marriage, hold a job, or if they stand to lose their self respect, honor or good name.

However, one of the goals of the GYE community is to help people “Hit bottom while still on top.” What that means, is that we try to get those who find themselves in the early stages of addiction to understand the nature of this disease and where it will ultimately lead them. Addiction is a progressive disease. Without treatment, addictions always gets worse, never better. Once a person recognizes that they have this illness, regardless of the degree to which it may have progressed, they can learn where the addiction will ultimately lead them from those who have already “Hit Bottom.” By doing this, we are essentially “lifting the bottom” for these newcomers to hit, while they are still on top and their lives remain intact. They need not lose their direction in life, their marriages, jobs and respect. They can learn from those who already have reached that point, and recognize the direction they are heading so that they will make recovery the #1 priority in their life. This is especially important for unmarried young men who stand to lose less at this point in their lives, and they are therefore less likely to take their recovery as seriously as a married man with children.

See the section called "Hitting bottom while still on top" on our website to read terrible stories of where this addiction can lead, such as the story of the religious man whose life was ruined and he was imprisoned for chatting inappropriately with minors, or the serial killers who blamed their evils on the influences of their lust addiction, and the horrible stories of divorces and suffering of the wives of addicts. Many marriage councilors say that this addiction is either the number one (or the number two) cause of shalom bayis issues and divorces amongst young couples in the religious community today.

Once we recognize that this is a progressive disease that will cause us not to be able to lead a normal marriage, hold down a steady job and progress in ruchniyus, and especially once we recognize the dangers of where this can lead, such as imprisonment and even death c”v, then we will have “hit bottom” just as surely as the ones who really hit bottom, and we will take our recovery very seriously.