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Raising the bottom for beloved addicts and alcoholics

When you hear the expression “hitting bottom,” think of an elevator that discharges people in a dark, scary basement. For those with substance use disorder, that basement can be death. Then think about how the addict/alcoholic has a choice to get off the elevator well before it hits the bottom or the basement.

  • They can get off before they lose their job.
  • They can get off before they lose their marriage.
  • They can get off before they lose their health.
  • They can get off before they lose their life.

So when we talk about “raising the bottom,” we are talking about how to support their exit from chemical dependency before they reach the bottom. How can you “raise the bottom” for your beloved addict or alcohlic? The “Open Letter from an Alcoholic” offers great guidance and you can read it here:

Open Letter from the Alcoholic

I am an alcoholic. I need your help.

Don’t lecture, blame or scold me. You wouldn’t be angry with me for having cancer or diabetes. Alcoholism is a disease, too.

Don’t pour out my liquor; it’s just a waste because I can always find ways of getting more.

Don’t let me provoke your anger. If you attack me verbally or physically, you will only confirm my bad opinion abut myself. I hate myself enough already.

Don’t let your love and anxiety for me lead you into doing what I ought to do for myself. If you assume my responsibilities, you make my failure to assume them permanent. My sense of guilt will be increased, and you will feel resentful.

Don’t accept my promises. I’ll promise anything to get off the hook. But the nature of my illness prevents me from keeping my promises, even though I mean them at the time.

Don’t make empty threats. Once you have made a decision, stick to it.

Don’t believe everything I tell you; it may be a lie. Denial of reality is a symptom of my illness. Moreover, I’m likely to lose respect for those I can fool too easily.

Don’t let me take advantage of you or exploit you in any way. Love cannot exist for long without the dimension of justice.

Don’t cover up for me or try in any way to spare me the consequences of my drinking. Don’t lie for me, pay my bills, or meet my obligations. It may avert or reduce the very crisis that would prompt me to seek help. I can continue to deny that I have a drinking problem as long as you provide an automatic escape for the consequences of my drinking.

Above all, do learn all you can about alcoholism and your role in relation to me. Go to open AA meetings when you can. Attend Al-Anon meetings regularly, read the literature and keep in touch with Al-Anon members. They’re the people who can help you see the whole situation clearly.

I love you.

Your Alcoholic

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