I wish I’d known about the “high bottom alcoholic” thing sooner. The first time I tried to quit drinking a couple of years ago, I was listening to drinking horror-stories that, at the time, confused me. Like, “I think I have a drinking problem, but holy shit, I don’t do that. Maybe I’m normal?” This wasn’t just a denial thing; there was genuine uncertainty at play.
I’ve resolved this for myself now: If you think you’ve got a problem, if there is something amiss in your relationship with alcohol, and you can’t get a handle on changing it, then yes you have a problem. Period. It really is that simple.
What I lacked back in the day there that might have helped me along to this realization was knowing that there’s a great big tribe of “high bottom people:” people like me who have not suffered significant, or even tragic consequences from drinking. Instead, we just finally get sick and tired of being sick and tired. This article, “5 Challenges Faced When You’re a High-Bottom Alcoholic” was really helpful to me, because I realized that a lot of the issues I was encountering as a novice quitter were common. Like “helpful” friends who think you are fine and should just “cut back,” or perhaps a greater risk of slipping in to “maybe I can moderate” thinking.
I especially liked the author’s concern that one may think oneself “not a good enough alcoholic,” because I seriously had this feeling sometimes when I was attending f2f meetings. That’s weird, but it’s a thing. Like you should go out, be wildly inappropriate in public, have sex with a stranger, lose your phone, smash your head on some furniture, and remember none of it. All this in order to have a more fitting “bottom,” a truly “rock” bottom, to end your drinking career.
This is ridiculous, of course. I am grateful that it has never come to this for me. But I guess what we’re all looking for is a sense of belonging with these things. There’s enough in the world to have imposter syndrome about without adding “imposter alcoholic” to the list. The high-bottom/low-bottom thing helps me to see through the overt behaviours we associate with alcoholism to the thoughts and feelings that I think we all share, regardless of the particularities of our consumption patterns. HIgh-bottom or low-bottom, we really are all in this together.