For many people who struggle with alcohol, becoming sober can feel almost impossible. There is hope, though. While attaining sobriety isn't easy, there are untold everyday people out there who've managed to find a better life through quitting drinking.
Recently, we asked members of the BuzzFeed Community: People who quit drinking, what was your rock bottom moment that made you stop? They bravely shared their stories, which hopefully will act as inspiration to anyone considering quitting themselves. Here are some of them:
Note: This post includes mentions of attempted suicide.
1."I woke up on my back, on the couch in the lounge, choking on my own vomit. I'm so lucky, I've heard so many stories of people dying like this, and the worst of it was that my young son would have found my body. That was enough. It was a long time coming; I didn't recognize myself or my life anymore. Alcohol had ruined me, and I was completely lost to it."
"This was the incident where I finally bottomed out and had the moment of clarity that eludes so many addicts. I broke down and asked for help. I got it from AA, and I'm eternally grateful to have my life back. I'm 13 years sober this year. I'm one of the lucky ones."
2."Getting caught at work. Going to my car a few times a day was suspicious behavior — and I was visibly drunk at noon on a Friday. Lost that good job. Admitted I couldn't quit on my own, so I went to rehab. Nineteen years later, still sober."
3."It took a brutal dumping. Like the 'you don’t have your life together, and this is hurting me too much' talk. I tried to drink a beer that night…took one sip, put it down, and haven’t touched booze since."
4."My son was very excited that the 50th anniversary of a movie he loves was showing at a local movie theater — with three original cast members making an appearance. I bought tickets for our family and talked it up as the day of the movie approached. The night before the movie was the end-of-year party for my job. I promised myself that I wouldn't go too hard on the booze, but I don't remember how I got home, and I woke up with the world's worst hangover. It turns out my husband had been trying to get in touch with me for hours before I got home. I was blackout drunk and incoherent when I arrived home, six hours after I said I would be home. I scared my husband and myself."
"Worst of all, I couldn't go to the movie with my family, and my son, who was 7 at the time, said, 'It is because you are sick from drinking too much.' I quit that day and have been sober for 217 days since. That day was not my first blackout, but I sacrificed too much in my life for my family to lose memories with them."
5."When I saw someone online say 'your buzz is not their buzz' in regards to drinking around your kids. Drinking creates such a volatility in moods across such a short time span (getting buzzed, getting drunk, sobering up), and can be a lot for kids to process (you're the fun parent, you're the forgetful parent, you're the agitated parent). I dealt with a parent that struggled with addiction, and was very aware of her moods at all stages. I didn't want that for my kids."
6."My bottom surprised me — it wasn’t my first DUI, my second DUI, losing my job, or the end of a relationship due to my drinking. It was when I was too drunk to call my mom on her birthday. I was tired of hurting the ones I loved, and I finally wanted to make the change. It had taken enough from me, and I was ready to give in to my powerlessness and seek help from a higher power."
"Something that’s been important for me to remember, though — everybody’s bottom is different. You don’t have to wait for the ultimate bottom to start changing your ways. It’s when YOU decide. Even more important is that every bottom has a basement. Just because you’ve 'hit bottom' doesn’t mean you can’t go further someday. I work really hard at my program to make sure I never hit another bottom, because sometimes, that basement is a grave."
7."I woke up freezing in someone else's bed, covered in piss. I got up to go clean myself off, and it felt like my head exploded and my world was quivering. Apparently, the quivering was my innards because I promptly shat myself while simultaneously vomiting all over the floor as more piss ran down my legs. Then I started crying, so I was leaking from every orifice. Later I found out I had emptied a whole box of Moscato by myself. I spent that entire day cleaning, showering, and trying to make the world stop spinning. Never. Again."
8."I started drinking when I was 14, struggled for 29 years. I was responsible for so much trauma in the lives of my four daughters. Two were grown and gone before I finally got sober. People would ask why my girls couldn't come first in my life. I would immediately declare there was nothing I loved more than my kids. I believed that was true, until the day my eyes opened to the truth. My youngest daughter, 13 at the time, stood sobbing in the kitchen asking me why I loved drugs and alcohol more than her and her sisters. It was a watershed moment as I realized everything else came after the alcohol and drugs. I cared more about it than anything else. Once I accepted that truth, things started to change. I've now been sober for 15 years."
9."I remember the exact moment, regaining consciousness after being blackout drunk. And I was in my dorm room with a stranger I could not remember meeting, leaving the club with, or sleeping with. That made me realize how dangerous drinking could be. I never drank again after that night."
10."Cops found me asleep in my running car at a store parking lot for my third DUI. Looking back, I hate that it took three. I was always a social drinker, and it never affected my work so I didn’t think it was a real issue. But I was facing the reality of being a felon for the rest of my life. I had to spend time in jail. Took years of an amazing public defender's help plus heavy probation, fines, and counseling. By the time I was in front of the judge, I was 14 weeks pregnant with my daughter and able to avoid the felony. He was very honest that any slip-up could risk CPS involvement. Did probation my entire pregnancy and the first year of her life. I was devastated wearing an ankle monitor for three months after I gave birth, but I did it to myself. Legal issues aside, I can’t ever imagine putting myself or others at risk like that again."
"Looking at my daughter, I can’t believe I used to be that messy, annoying, falling down, DANGEROUS drinker, but I was. Now I’ll use it to help her make better choices and cope with life better."
11."I ripped the sink off the bathroom wall (still not sure how that happened) and still had to be at work at 5 a.m. the next morning. I was the only server at the senior center, and I had about 70 seniors ordering breakfast. I couldn’t keep up without being sick, and it was rock bottom for me."
12."I drank heavily for 13 years, was drinking up to a fifth of rum a day. I just woke up one day and was sick of being sick. Never drank again. That was 25 years ago."
13."I am an older mom, and realized that if I didn't stop drinking, I wasn't going to be alive to see them grow up. They would be without a mom at a young age. I also wanted to remember the times I spent with them. I wanted to be present and a good mom. I just couldn't do that and be an alcoholic. I chose my kids and living over drinking alcohol."
14."One weekend my wife decided she wanted to take the family on a no-drinking camping vacation. I knew my body couldn't handle going a night cold turkey — I was drinking anywhere from 1/4 to 1/2 of a large bottle of vodka a night at that point — so I brought a flask. It didn't work. I was delusional, hallucinating, and just needed to get home. The next morning I was worse. I went to the ER and ended up in the hospital for three weeks. I went into atrial fibrillation, got shock paddled and had respiratory tubes put in me. You would think that would be enough, but it wasn't. I quit hard liquor but started buying the strongest beer I could find. It took my wife having one foot out the door and taking the kids for me to finally decide I have to stop. I have been sober for over two years now."
"For those who say, why does there have to be a rock bottom? Or describe those with addiction as weak, let me tell you, addiction is no joke. We feel powerless to it. Everyone who is recovering from an addiction has had a rock bottom. Some people's rock bottom is just different."
15."I was sitting on the patio, having my morning cup of coffee and cigarette, as I lifted the coffee cup to my mouth, my hand began shaking. That’s when I knew for sure I needed to stop fighting the truth, and give it up forever, one day at a time."
16."I am about to lose my relationship of 10 years. For the last three years, I drank a fifth of whiskey every other day up until a couple weeks ago. My relationship has been teetering on the edge of no return for the last couple years. She approached me and explained that I had been invalidating her feelings, and she felt disrespected. I love this woman more than anything in the world, and hearing that along with all the family interactions during the holidays opened my eyes to what I was going to be losing. I swore off alcohol immediately and started educating myself on how to validate her feelings. I Immediately started helping around the house to take weight off of her shoulders. I'm still not sure if I can save this relationship, but I'll be damned if I'm going to pick up another drink and lose my soulmate."
17."I hit bottom many different times but couldn't stop drinking...not when I was drunk at work and taken away in an ambulance while the whole department watched. Not when I was told that I have cirrhosis of the liver. Not after the first time I was arrested and served time in jail. And not after the second DUI and more jail time. But when I was hungover and began to vomit blood, that scared the drunk right out of me. I quit four months ago and counting. I miss having drinks with friends sometimes, especially when I'm at the beach, but for the most part, I honestly don't miss it."
18."I realized that I had a problem when I got severe cravings to start drinking again first thing in the morning after being drunk all night. The only way to get through a hangover seemed to be drinking again. This led to day drinking during classes, which was then followed by drinking at night. The last time I got blackout drunk I found myself sitting, fully clothed, on the toilet at 2 a.m. and vomiting what seemed to be an entire bottle of wine onto the floor, walls, heater, bathmat, tub, and my feet and legs. Took me about an hour to clean up. Must've flushed the toilet over 100 times during clean up. Rosé still smells like vomit to me to this day. Quit cold turkey the next day and have only had one relapse in nearly two decades."
"It also showed me who my real friends were. A lot of them stopped hanging out with me once I didn't drink anymore. Now I appreciate the people who stuck by me and supported me either way."
19."My husband cheated on me. I started partying to make myself feel better. I drove to meet a friend for a coffee, got absolutely smashed. I woke up at home with no recollection of the evening, and my car was outside the house."
20."I drank every weekend, up to 18 beers a night. I tried to kill myself more than once. I had terrible thoughts when I was intoxicated. My whole family has drank heavily for as long as I could remember. When my mom died, it hit me hard, I realized I wanted and needed to be there for my own family. My heart broke when I told my oldest son, who was 16 at the time, that I was going to stop drinking. He bawled his eyes out. I never knew the harm I was inducing due to my drinking. I quit the next day, cold turkey, and haven't drank coming up on seven years. My biggest regret is wasting so much time, energy, and money on that addiction."
21."I realized that I was spending too much money on alcohol ($800 in three weeks on beer). I also started to realize I was doing stupid stuff while drunk, and I didn't want to die or try to take my life again while I was drunk. I made a choice that I no longer wanted alcohol in my life and I didn't need it to be happy. I have been sober 560 days now, and I feel so much healthier and am totally happy with my new life."
"I do see an addiction counselor every couple of weeks just to keep myself in line, but all in all, I am very happy that I chose to stop drinking forever."
22."I hit rock bottom many times and still continued drinking. It wasn’t until I grudgingly agreed to try a group for addicts; their approach was based on understanding your psychology better, all of the things that made me so depressed and anxious that I drowned [out with] alcohol and drugs. It took more than a year of going to these groups before I got sober. In short, wanting to be sober doesn’t have to come in a searing moment of clarity, it can be a gradual realization and slowly shifting behaviors. Everyone has their own journey."
23."I tried to stop many, many times, but my rock bottom was after my dad passed away and I couldn’t stop drinking. Maybe I was trying to just numb the pain; maybe I had sort of given up. My family helped me into rehab not long after, and I walked out of that facility with a renewed desire to keep my sobriety as the most important thing to me. I wanted to also make it up to my dad, who died while I was still drinking. I later faced some severe health issues from decades of drinking, but my decision to stop before my diagnosis helped me get through it soberly and clearheaded."
24."I embarrassed myself at a work event and woke up the next morning with a very clear picture of what my life would look like if I didn't stop: unemployed, alone, horrible health, and as selfish as the day is long. That was four years ago this month. I have not looked back, and I do not miss hangovers."
25."I was hospitalized after having a withdrawal seizure and experiencing hallucinations. I'd tried to quit many times before then but always started again after a few days. I was 30 years old, had liver damage, lost custody of my son, and was crippled with anxiety. I just decided enough was enough."
"I've been sober nearly seven years now with the help of AA, and in that time, I've had some amazing experiences and achieved a lot, so my fears that my life would be boring without alcohol have been proven wrong. My liver function went back to normal as well once I got sober."
26."I'd drank moderately my whole adult life and even worked at a winery as my side hustle, and it was never a problem. I started drinking during the day to cope with my daughter leaving for college and some other challenges in my life. Very quickly it started affecting my health and relationships — within a few months, I was starting to really decline, and it was terrifying. I ended up in the hospital for three days detoxing. I couldn’t walk on my own, and I was shaking so badly I couldn’t even take a drink of water."
"Over a year later, I’m still sober and completely thankful for it, but it was a horrible experience, and I wish more people understood that alcohol is a poison and should be treated as such. And I want people to know that addiction can happen to anyone."
27."Before I surrendered and accepted that I’m an alcoholic, I prayed every night for God to let me die while I slept. I didn’t want to live anymore because of my using but couldn’t imagine life without alcohol and drugs. I placed myself in incredibly dangerous situations — finding random men to score what I needed, driving drunk, sleeping with anyone who would show me attention. I’m now over eight years sober, living a day at a time, and so incredibly grateful for the life I have today; my life has done a 180."
If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, you can call SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) and find more resources here.
Dial 988 in the US to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Other international suicide helplines can be found at befrienders.org. The Trevor Project, which provides help and suicide-prevention resources for LGBTQ youth, is 1-866-488-7386.
Have a story of your own you'd like to share? You can do so in the comments below or via this anonymous form.