What Does it Mean to “Hit Bottom” for a High Functioning Alcoholic?

Living and dealing with addiction each day is challenging. Some people are able to function at a higher level than others, maintaining careers, family life, and other obligations while their inner world is spiraling out of control. Perhaps some people have noticed, perhaps they have not, but the reality is high functioning alcoholics can still hit bottom and look like nothing is happening.

Motivated by Desperation

Shame, guilt, self-loathing, and other feelings can come along with the sense that addiction has taken over a person’s mind and body. The motivation a person feels who hits a low bottom versus a high bottom may look different, but it is still a bottom. When the bottom drops out, it is time to seek help. For people who are lower functioning alcoholics, they may lose everything they worked hard to have, including job, family, friends, and social status. The downward spiral can last years, even decades. High functioning alcoholics may only lasts up to the point functioning seems to stop at the high level of expectations they place on themselves, Different types of bottoms don’t exempt anyone from hitting the lowest point where they need to be motivated by a desperation to get better that gets them the help they need.

Emotional Healing

High functioning alcoholism revolves around a person’s emotional state as well as their physical ability to function every day. On the surface, they may look fine. On the inside, they are suffering as a result of drinking too much. This may be due to mental health issues, stress, or other things which drive them to use substances to hide from the true nature of their lived experience. For some high functioning people, they are perfectionists who have to realize they are not perfect and the high bottom they hit means they are seeing lower than average standards they set for themselves, which sets off a red flag to seek help. Maybe it is a missed promotion they worked hard at their job, not getting the grades at school, or simply missing out on opportunities with loved ones they normally don’t miss like big family events and parties.


A bottom for someone with high functioning alcoholism often means challenges in their career. This may mean they are at risk of losing their jobs unless they get help. This might also mean losing their identity, which is wrapped into their line of work. Being at the bottom does not mean losing everything before it hits, it may mean simply seeing it coming after an instance where the risk of losing it all comes into sheer focus at just the right time before it all crashes down. Reaching out for help is hard no matter how a person is functioning. Devastating financial crises, disruption to personal lives or other things do not have to take place if a person is able to notice how their life is changing rapidly and going downhill. The slow deterioration may be just the impetus a person needs to shift gears and seek help. Friends and family are often the people who most notice another loved one’s struggles to the point they offer to help them navigate recovery so they can get the help they need and be back on track in their lives. The motivation and will to get better must come from the person who has a drinking problem, but support from loved ones can make a huge difference in the person deciding to seek help before the high bottom hits a new low.

Don’t be afraid to reach out for help before you hit bottom. Whatever bottom looks like for you, we are here to help you piece your life together in recovery. Our programs and services are designed to support your journey of healing. At the Last Resort, we are here to support what you need to move forward in recovery including detox, help with symptoms of withdrawal, medication for mental health issues, and therapeutic interventions. Give us a call to find out how we can best support your journey:512-750-6750