What Does Rock Bottom Mean?

Chances are you’ve heard of the phrase “rock bottom” a time or two in life. Maybe you’ve had a friend who hit rock bottom or you’ve been there yourself. To hit rock bottom means that someone has ended up in a very distressing place in life; perhaps the lowest point that person could go. When it comes to alcoholism or drug addiction, rock bottom could be a near death experience, legal trouble, or the loss of a partner or children. It could also mean experiencing a mental or emotional breakdown. Either way, rock bottom is a terrible place to be.

Chance for change
One good thing about hitting rock bottom is that it oftentimes serves as a huge wake up call to get some professional help. I remember a couple of “rock bottoms” in my life where I finally admitted that my desire to drive straight into a tree doing 55 mph meant that I needed some serious help. Good news is that I did finally reach out for help and began a journey of healing and recovery from several things.

What help is available?
If you feel as if you are at rock bottom, or close, seriously consider reaching out for help. You can do so in a variety of ways, including calling around to get yourself into some counseling, attending a 12 Step recovery group, getting into a rehab, and more. There are some online support forums like this one, which are wonderful for learning and engaging with others, but you may also need some face to face help. Keep that in mind.

Being at such a low spot in life is difficult. You may feel hopeless, useless, and think that you’re just a failure with no future. I assure you these feelings are temporary, as you can begin a journey to get through your current situation and feel better down the road. I will tell you it will require you to do some things differently and it will require effort on your part, but the end result will be so worth it! Take it from someone who has been there.

Your rock bottom is simply the beginning of a new and beautiful life that you can create one day at a time.




  • 38 Commentsby Likes|Date
  • Personally, I think that rock bottom is different for everyone. It's the moment when they personally realize how bad their life has gotten, how low they have truly gotten in life, and that they really need to get help immediately. Not everyone gets to rock bottom; some are gone before they have the chance to get there. When a person truly and honestly feels like there's absolutely no where else to go but up, then that's their rock bottom. And I think that you can hit it more than once, and you can hit rock bottom once and then hit it again lower than you did the time before.
  • I see rock bottom as a huge eye opener, meaning, we see the reality as it is and the situation that we are at. Rock bottom is when we feel the worse, but at the same time can also be the turning point. 
  • When you hit rock bottom, they say there is no way to go but up. But for many it's hard, because many times their actions turn the people away from them. Sometimes, they pushed their loved ones away themselves. It did happen in my case. It's a luck that so many resources are available so that you can get back to your feet with people who will try to help you without judging you.
  • Like Bellejoie said, rock bottom is when you have nowhere to go but up. This is both a blessing and a curse, in my opinion. It is a blessing because now that you're at the bottom, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. It is a curse because, well, you have nothing. You have to work very hard to get back to where you once were, but it is possible with hard work. 
  • I agree with hellonamesdana that Rock Bottom can be different for everyone. Some people's rock bottom may still be far away from another's. It's basically the feeling that your fallen so low, it can only go up from now on.
  • Rock bottom is definitely an individual thing as far as I'm concerned. There was many times I thought I'd hit rock bottom only to find I'd manage to fall even further.

    Something happens and you think surely this has to be the start of me sorting myself out, only to find it wasn't, it was like I was on a mission to destroy all the good aspects of my life. And there was no reason behind it.

    I think its a line from an Eminem song when he says he hit rock bottom that hard that he bounced twice, and that's exactly what happend to me.
  • Rock bottom to me is when there is no other option left and all you have left is yourself and you are about to quit.  That's my definition.  One step back is not the bottom.  Try taking several until you hit a wall and can't move any further.  That's the bottom.
  • Hi, this is my first post. I think it's important to think of rock bottom as more of a realization than an event. Alcohol and drugs have sent me to the hospital, gotten me arrested, gotten me in a drunk driving accident, caused me to lose every friend I had, and kept me from finding a partner or a decent job for the last ten years. All those things felt like rock bottom, but none of them made serious about getting clean and fixing my life. Sure, they got me to make half hearted efforts to change; I'd take a couple days off or go to a meeting, but  I didn't really want to change. They were false bottoms. I'm two days clean after what I'm convinced is a real rock bottom for me. It wasn't an arrest or an accident, it was simply multiple family members (I'm paraphrasing a bit here) telling me how bummed they were about what a loser I am that made me truly realize how badly I've screwed up my life.
  • I’ve always liked what JK Rowling had to say on the subject: “Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”

    I have had a few emotional breakdowns in the course of my life. It took me some time to realize that I could look at them as signs that things needed to change. I think I used to be afraid that I would work hard to claw my way out of it, only to fall again. Well, that’s happened and I’ve survived. Bad times are unavoidable, but when they come around I don’t have to let myself spiral out of control until I hit rock bottom again.
  • I really enjoyed everyone personal definitions of this term. When it is applied to drinking and alcohol it might be different then for something like lets say bankruptcy. When it comes to prices it can have a positive annotation. It is hard to find the origin of the idiomatic expression but it would seem to have come into use in the 1880's when mining was popular. When you dig, you dig until you hit the rock. I guess Slim Shady says it best: "Thats Rock bottom - when you feel you've had it up to here. 'cause you mad enough to scream but you sad enough to tear. Thats Rock Bottom."
  • Rock bottom means different things to different people, I personally found it to mean the lowest of the low when you realise that you hate yourself. When you have hit rock bottom you can not sink any lower than you are right now.
  • Just on a side note, I've seen Eminem lyrics mentioned a few times on various threads. I think it shows that even if people don't like his music, he certainly knows what he's talking about when it comes to addiction and recovering.
  • Rock bottom, to me, feels like whale crap sitting at the bottom of the ocean. It's the lowest that anything can ever get. The good news is that there is only one way you can possibly go from there and that's up. 
  • Sometimes people think they've hit rock bottom only to realize that the bottom is actually even farther down. Rock bottom is a true state of desperation and it's a point at which some people see the option of improving their situation or simply giving up...for good. A lot of people hit rock bottom at least one point in their lifetime, and this is true more so for individuals dealing with substance abuse.
  • I think rock bottom is when you have sunk to a whole new low with your addiction. Reality kindof smacks you in the face and you realize there's no where left to go. It takes A LOT to convince some addicts that they're messing up. When they hit rock bottom, though, they absolutely can not deny it. When they have a moment of clarity they realize they have sunk to an entire new level of messed up. They will look around and see that everyone they cared about or the people who cared about them are gone, everything they had going for them, everything they cared about, and everything they worked so hard for are all gone.
  • @missbishi that is an interesting way to put it! lol :)
  • My personal rock bottom was the deepest, darkest pit that I ever fell into. And that wasn't all. Everything came crashing down on me, nearly killing me down there in hell. It took me a long time to "dig" myself out of that dreadful place, but I did it, because there was no other way. 
    For me "rock bottom" means when you have to draw on the reserves of the reserves of your overall strength. 
  • Thank you for such a beautiful literature. I've definitely hit rock bottom more than once in my life. It is the most painful time in anyone's life and it can lead to suicidal tendencies.

    But as you outlined in the article, there is still a chance for change. Rock bottom can be a phase of meditation and the place that leads us to be introspective. Sometimes its a rock bottom experience that we need the cause us to come to ourselves.

  • Very beautiful and thought out post! It really motivated me since I was feeling down a little bit today!
    I never hit rock bottom but I was very close to doing so! I'm glad I had to learn a lot of things from my mistakes and be a better person than I was today. This community is a part of me right now, and I would love to give back to it!
  • I think it's the realization that you aren't in control of your life anymore. You bend over and take it up the butt every day, several times a day to a devil dressed like an angel. That facade will collapse one day, and no matter how hard you try, you can never get that illusion back. It's a dirty, decietful beast and you're chained to him whether you like it or not.
  • @shammy so glad to hear you are enjoying the community here. your presence here matters! thanks for sharing your life with us :)
  • I see rock bottom as a position in which you can't get any lower than where you are now. But rock bottom is more than just being "low". It's when you've lost everything you've ever achieved in life, or grew up with. When you've not only lost the people you love, but when you've lost your own morals and personal ideals.

    "Rock bottom" also comes with the depressingly realistic realization that yes, you have lost everything. That, yes, you do have an addiction. That you now have to work very hard if you want it all back. 
  • Rock bottom is a horrible place to be when you are hitting it... but it doesn't have to be seen that way! If you are at rock bottom... where ya gonna go next? Can't get any worse so make the decision to go UP! The climb is hard but the journey is worth it! Turn your rock bottom into your U-Turn Lane!
  • My rock bottom was when I started becoming an alcoholic like my parents were, especially my father who I loathe so much. That's when I said I have to stop, not to hurt myself, but, more important, not to hurt the ones I love. It was a huge wake up call and I'm glad everything's over. 
  • Rock bottom is as low as you can go, and still be alive. You have bottomed out  your options are to stay down, and die. Or to seek help and make the slow pain staking ascent back up. Which ever you choose it's going to be hard. being that low will only bring your worst nightmares to life. Taking that first step to redeem yourself is even harder. The light at the end of that long dark tunnel is there if you want it.
  • I've hit rock bottom, I remember it well, no job, nobody to relate to, guilty for everything I did, sick and fat, acne covered and total emotional wreck. Suicidal. I remember not knowing what to do. The best thing about losing your life is you have a chance to start a new one, and if you are considering ending your life, what difference would it make it you didn't commit suicide, you just flew to somewhere complexity new, and did something totally different. Hats what I've done, and it's certainly shaken things up a bit! Get out of the pattern, move, change jobs, change social circles, change what you do, find something you believe in and do that, no matter what it is, something you truly think will make the world a better place.
  • @lyralyra so glad to hear that you have risen from your rock bottom. thank you for sharing and being such an inspiration here.
  • Rock bottom is certainly different for everyone. It can be hard to know when you or someone is there. It can happen a few times before it leads to recovery too. You also don't need to get there, some will catch themselves before they get this far.
    I think a few others in this community have touched on this too. 
    There is nothing "good" about it, well except that it can signal that it is time to change and that life will be getting better.
    When you are in a rock bottom state, you are very vulnerable too. Mental health issues and thoughts of suicide may arise too.

  • I think it is different for everyone, but in general I think it's whenever someone realizes that they only have 2 options - work to get better or die. Thankfully most people, especially the awesome ones here, choose recovery and survive it.
  • I think that your "bottom" is when you finally say enough is enough. Some people may have lower bottoms than others, but really how you get there is irrelevant. The important part is that you got there. And "there" is wherever you were after whatever happened that shook you up and gave you the courage to say  "not anymore".
  • I've heard and read a few stories of people hitting their rock bottom and even if I can empathize it really is hard for me to completely understand how that feels for them exactly, which I think is part of the reason why people reach that point since it really is hard to find someone who can relate to the specific situation. It's still a good point to make a solid decision though, as already mentioned.
  • ''Rock bottom is a blessing in disguise for me. I will use those rocks to build my foundation'- Unknown.
  • To me, rock bottom means that you've run out of options. Your life is chaos and there's no way to go but up. I think it's when you start to realize how badly you've affected other people's lives and how much you've ruined your own. Rock bottom might be one of the saddest moments in someone's life, but at the same time it can be so rewarding. There is no where to go but up!
  • When you run out of options. Knew a friend who had an alcoholic addiction and he ran out of options. He self taught himself to get out of the addiction by reading a book. 
    How to give up alcohol by rahul nag is a good book, if your struggling with alcohol check it out reviewyu.com/how-to-give-up-alcohol.html
  • I think that at one point in our lives, we may have reached rock bottom already. It's that part where you think you have failed and lost. Or when you have hurt more people than ever. Or even when you have lost everything you have. But as they say, when you've hit rock bottom, there's no where to go but up. Even if it can be quite difficult to rebuild everything from scratch, it is possible. With a lot of effort and focus, anyone can do it.
  • It's different for every individual person. Rock bottom could mean something totally different for me than it does for somebody else. But the general idea is getting to the end of yourself.
  • @mooray I really like the way you think. Rock bottom really can be a blessing in disguise. Without my rock bottom, I would have never fixed myself and came out better on the other side.
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