You are never too young to be an alcoholic. Some people believe alcoholics are born, not made. Whether or not you believe this concept, it is still important to understand: Alcoholism has nothing to do with age, the number of years you have been drinking, or how “bad” it gets. Everyone has a different bottom. Fortunately, in the last few decades, more and more young people have chosen to enroll in rehab recovery facilities long before the most disastrous physical and psychological damage is inflicted through drinking.
In the early years of Alcoholics Anonymous, you would hear a lot of horrific “bottom” stories – these are the stories of that final straw (or straws) that broke the alcoholics’ denial and refusal to get help. Stories of lost jobs, being kicked out by family, even jail, and being homeless were common. Those stories still abound, but over the last few decades, there has been a movement toward “high bottoms” – not as dire or deadly, but enough to convince a young person that continued drinking would only mean greater and more dire consequences.
Denial is an interesting thing. Many young people will hear the dire, low-bottom stories and think, “I’m not an alcoholic. I never did THAT.” But if you truly are an alcoholic, you will eventually do something like that as long as you keep drinking. The question is: is your bottom low enough now that you can avoid the worst consequences of abusive drinking?
The number of teenagers and young adults in the rooms of recovery clearly indicates that indeed you can hit bottom without destroying your life. So, if you are considering recovery, do not ask yourself if you are old enough. Ask yourself: When I drink, do bad things happen?
Most people delay joining a treatment facility longer than necessary. Sometimes, the main reason they delay treatment facilities is simply that they do not want to ask for help. They feel ashamed or embarrassed. They are afraid the wrong person will find out.
It is natural to feel uncomfortable taking your first steps toward recovery. When we abuse alcohol or drugs, we spend a lot of energy trying to disguise and hide our addiction. We keep a lot of secrets. Breaking that tradition of secrecy can make us anxious and panicky.
Asking for help is not easy, but it is critical to getting on the path to recovery to the facility. There is a saying in Alcoholics Anonymous “you are only as sick as your secrets.” If you have extreme anxiety about “letting the cat out of the bag,” remember this: it’s probably not as big a secret as you think. If you abuse alcohol, people will figure it out. Your behavior and your health will certainly give you away at some point.
Some initial ways to ask for help are that you call Alcoholics Anonymous and talk to someone in recovery facility; attend an AA meeting (it is anonymous, and you do not have to introduce yourself if you do not want to); call your employee assistance program and make an appointment and find a therapist who specializes in addiction and recovery. If you know someone in recovery, ask them if you can talk to them privately. Call a treatment facility that specializes in alcohol rehabilitation and talk to a counselor.