Spring is a good time of year to detox and start fresh. That’s what Spring is all about, after all—renewal. So today and in the spirit of the season, I want to talk about showing your liver some LOVE by detoxing. While you may want to detox from caffeine, sugar, fast food, taking prescriptions that you may not really need, a sedentary lifestyle, or stress (all of which negatively impact your liver, by the way), I want to specifically talk today about detoxing from alcohol and use my own story as an example. (If you are a committed non-drinker, substitute your vice here.)

It all came to a head three months before my college graduation. I had always been a big drinker from a big drinking family, and since college is a time when even non-alcoholics drink alcoholically, my liver was pretty pickled by senior year.

I had been seeing a therapist for about a year when she told me she thought my drinking was a problem, to which I defensively exclaimed, “Well then everyone in my life has a drinking problem,” to which she calmly replied, “Well I am not treating everyone in your life, and if you do not seek help with a 12-Step Program, I will have to terminate our relationship.” WOW! Was my therapist breaking up with me? Holy crap, is it that bad?

What I actually felt surprised me—pure RELIEF.

So all gussied up in my eighties finest—stirrup pants, t-shirt with shoulder pads, gobs of Stage Light makeup, and an enormous main of red, permed hair in full effect with big plastic neon hoop earrings—I found my way to the basement of a church in Syosset Long Island. “Looking good and definitely NOT like and alcoholic,” I reassured my rearview reflection before entering.

I sat near the door so I could smoke my Parliament 100s considerately. Soon, I was approached by a beautiful, similarly shellacked big-haired women about ten years my senior. Noticing I was a newbie, she asked what brought me to the meeting. I said my therapist threatened to break up with me if I didn’t attend at least one meeting. To be polite, I asked her the same question. She looked me straight in the eyes and, with a calm that unnerved me, stated, “I killed a six-year-old boy in a drunk driving accident.”

“Wow, I am so sorry. That seriously sucks,” was my shocked and insensitive reply.

“Yes it does, and I have had to figure out how to live everyday of my life knowing I killed someone’s child and broke a mother’s heart.”

She changed the course of my life.

I stayed until the end of the meeting, fighting back a tsunami of tears that threatened to overwhelm me. When I finally got to my car, I was bawling so hard I couldn’t drive, so I sat there listening to Whitney Houston’s “The Greatest Love of All” (which, of course, inspired more bawling) and felt so grateful it hurt. I made a pact with the universal powers that be at that moment that I would not drink again. While I was grateful that the tragic story was not mine, I was keenly aware of how easily it could be. I still think of that generous angel who shared the story that led to the wake up that inspired my transformation.

Once I stopped drinking, things changed. I dropped twenty-five pounds in thirty days, discovered my cheekbones, and moved to New York City after graduation. I took an honest look at all areas of my life. Writing down what I wanted more of and less of in each area. I stayed in therapy and got dialed into the self-empowerment movement. I realized that in order to create the life of my dreams, I had to be brutally honest about what was not working and what limiting beliefs were blocking my potential. The rest is history.

Here is a self-awareness opportunity for you if you are up for the challenge:

Since becoming a therapist, I inspire my clients (typically not to the severity that my therapist “inspired” me, unless it is necessary) to take a 21-Day Alcohol Detox every year around this time.

To start, I want to ask you some questions to see if you are more dependent on alcohol than you might realize. When I say I am inviting you to do a 21-Day Detox, how does that make you feel? Could you do it? Do you want to do it or is it really the fear of not being able to drink making you say, “I could, but I don’t feel like it?” If my asking you to not drink for twenty-one days strikes fear in your heart, I want you to take a look at how much you use alcohol (or another vice) to numb feelings and create a mood-altering experience.

So, for the next twenty-one days, will you join me? Since I’ve not had a drink in about twenty-five years, I will give up coffee. So, like me, if you’re already a non-drinker, pick something else (we all have something!). And don’t pick another vice just because you don’t want to give up the booze. Only choose something else if you are a committed non-drinker.

I’m interested in hearing what these questions and the thought of giving up drinking kicked up for you, so please drop a comment.

I hope you have an amazing week, giving your liver some lovin’, and, as always, take care of the rest of you too.

Love Love Love

Terri

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  1. Terri,

    Thank you for posing this challenge. I’ve done one detox in the past for Lent and I remember it being difficult, mainly b/c of how people react in a social setting when they’re drinking and you’re not. I “allowed” myself a free ticket during that one detox b/c I had a trip to Napa planned during the Lenten period so it wasn’t even a true fast from start to finish. However, it was a start on the long road of struggles w/ alcohol and here I am now.

    I have to admit I did not start your challenge until a few days after your post. After letting the initial fear it provoked inside sit with me for a few days, I set my intentions in motion on Monday April 22nd.

    Its been 6 days so far and I’ll be the first to admit while its been a struggle (mainly in social settings) it does seem to be getting easier to deal w/ people’s reactions and evaluate my emotions more closely with a clear mind as each day passes. After about 16 years of partying (since I was 16, I’m 32 now) with the best of ’em, I’m at a point in my life where I want to be strong enough to quiet the monster mind and forge a path of the live I truly want.

    At my core, I’ve known all along drinking does not enable any one to be his/her best self and I’ve only truly had any major life regrets as a result of drinking (lost possessions, senseless arguments, bruises, blackouts, you name it). I’ve seen it all firsthand and I see it regularly in others (not judging anyone but myself, however I’m well aware of what goes on around me).

    Part of my own struggle is watching others struggle. I think of majority of New Yorkers possess some form of alcoholism. Its a very all-or-nothing society. I have handful of recovering alcoholic friends and I used to wonder how they remain social, entertain clients, keep friends etc….With the onset of this challenge, I’m starting to see glimmers that it is possible to be sober and clear minded and live a full life.

    Of course there is still that nagging, fear – What happens after 21 days? Do I keep going? Am I committing to a life of not drinking? What about summer happy hours? Do I stop after 21 days and go celebrate by having a drink? These thoughts worry me, but I’m taking one day at a time…

    The biggest challenge for me as it relates to alcohol has been the social aspect. I’ve never had physical wants for alcohol.

    I start desiring a drink (or two – famous last words) after a long day at work, frustrating client interactions, the build up to a big event etc. I drink to reward myself for hard work, to alleviate the stress of over-functioning, to just let loose and “have fun.” With this cleanse, I’m trying to work on understanding alcoholism better and getting a stronghold on what really provokes fear and anxiety in me around drinking. I’ve had some interesting observations.

    This was an tough week to start to detox b/c I had a variety of client events at bars and a close friend’s birthday. While en route to the outings I kept thinking things like: “what am I going to order that I will enjoy drinking and is not boring like water, what do I tell people, what will people think, how will people react, how am I going to exit,” knowing I won’t want to be there as long as I normally would (if I was drinking) since loud bars and annoying people are not fun to be around as long as you’re not numbing those aspects w/ booze….

    I decided to use the excuse that I started training this week for a half marathon (which is true) and that I was aiming to focus and stay on course w/ my training and was truly committed to seeing a difference in how I looked/felt after the first month of training/no drinking. I can admit the marathon was a result of looking for something to motivate me and work towards. In terms of my excuse, I positioned the no drinking as an afterthought to the training, which is not completely the case b/c I registered for the half after I started the detox. Either way, I’ve always wanted to do a half and this challenge has been an impetus to check that off my list. Most people respected it as an excuse while others taunted and said “you’re drinking JUST RedBull?” or “C’mon come to the bar for just one” (this was my CEO, after I told him about my training program/cleanse). The peer pressure annoys me and I have to work on ways to not let it pull on my heart strings and play w/ my mind. I feel sorry for those who apply peer pressure (I personally have never taunted someone for saying no) b/c I think those folks are the ones who should be embracing your challenge Terri, but I vow to try my best not to judge and just worry about me….

    Onward…

    Each night, I stayed the course. On Wed and Thurs with client/work outings it was a tough start w/ lots of things going through my head but each day got a tad bit easier as time passed. Friday and Sat were social outings w/ friends. Fri I had a few thoughts like “Hmmm I’d really like a glass of that white wine after this long ass week,” yet when the waiter put the wine glass in front of me I simply pushed it away. It was getting a little easier. Will power muscle in motion!! Then I was out w/ friends at a Beer Garden for the aforementioned birthday. This crew is full of partiers. Binge drinkers and recreational drugs. I was my smiley self and no one even knew I wasn’t drinking. I had a glass (of water, this time) and there was no need to announce anything about my drinking status. Thank god no one offered me a shot. My biggest fear going into the night. I would not have taken it if offered, but I was cringing at the idea of turning it down and needing to explain myself. The toughest part of the night was actully leaving the party before midnight. However, I said my good-bye’s and while I got one jeer that I was “no fun.” I said, “I know you love me Nate, but life calls, yoga at 9am. I’ll be thinking of you guys hung over when I’m leaving yoga.” And one of the guys in the crew actually said, “You are doing what all of us wish we could be doing. we are getting too old for this.”

    By Saturday night out to dinner w/ my sister and a friend at a lively Latin bar/restaurant I was all dressed up for a night out with no alcohol in my big night out equation. I was proud and feeling empowered to order a half cran / half club. It felt good to be aware of my surroundings and mindful that it’s good to take in the scene and life instead of drinking until the lines become blurred and the next day is ruined.

    This first weekend of the detox felt full and productive. I slept for 12 hours each night which was much needed after my rigorous work week and made the most of my days. While there were other moments of weakness – wishing I was sitting in the sun sipping a mimosa on Saturday toasting to spring finally arriving and being a part of a big fun friendly group, I do feel stronger for saying no when I had to, turning down drinks, sticking to my guns, not feeling sorry that I am doing what is best for me and what I want to do right now.

    1. Daisy-
      WOW! Thank you so much for sharing your journey here with us. I encourage you with all of my heart to stay the course. I promise you that you will start to have fond associations with other beverages (it happened for me) So get creative about drinking other things as reward or for celebration. I got really into teas when I first stopped drinking and made a ritual around making it and enjoying the process, which came to mean relaxation and self care (and still is to this day 😉

      You are a rock star
      You deserve to have a life you love
      Being present in your life will get you there
      I am cheering you on like a wild maniac!!
      love love love
      Terri

  2. Hi Terri,
    It’s day 12 and my second sober Friday of the challenge. Woo Hoo! This week, I was able to join two separate groups of friends with whom I have a history of drinking and managed to remain committed to my abstinence from alcohol. I received a few quizzical looks and questions, but I must say sobriety didn’t dampen my ability to enjoy their company or the conversation. To the contrary, I was more engaged and aware of not only what was being said, but the sincerity and emotions behind the words.
    As a naturally “sappy” & emotional person, I am struggling a bit with the increased intensity of my emotional reactions to things but overall, I feel great. I’m wondering if 21 days might lead to 41 and on and on. Time will tell, but for now I am proud of myself and grateful that I read your blog that day. I believe it was Divine intervention.
    How’s the caffeine detox going for you?
    Hugs,
    Annette

    1. Wow Annette-
      I am inspired by how well you are doing. I hope that 21 turns into 41 and maybe like me rest of life-if that is what will add the most value to the quality of your life. I think trying it for 90 days is a great barometer of how alcohol effects your moods (it takes a while to create the new normal) The coffee thing has been rough as hell but I am holding steady 😉
      Keep us posted please!!
      love love love
      terri

  3. HI Terri,

    Wanted to say thank you, again. We are on night 10, and so far, I’m still dry…unless you count the rootbeer floats! (yum) They are an excellent replacement. Seriously, I didn’t think I would make it this far. I’m starting to think ahead. on day 22 am I going to have pizza AND BEER…or, am I going to continue to abstain? Bet I abstain! How are YOU doing with no coffee? That would be an even BIGGER challenge.

  4. I’m up for the challenge, Terri!
    I have been relying on sleeping pills for a while now. I was very sick last year, and they were extremely helpful and served their purpose. But its time to stop taking them. I have started meditating (love your CD!) and have recently taken a workshop in Primordial Sound Meditation (I got my mantra) –this is the perfect opportunity to stop. April 13th was my last day.
    Your website looks great! Love the new look.
    Love and Light,
    Marsha

  5. Yes, I’m in!

    As others said, this is great timing. I’m training for a 1/2 marathon, saving money for a big move, and am a big advocate for taking on challenges likes this. Woo!

    I’ve never loved drinking, but grew up in a college town where binge drinking is the norm and you get funny stares if you order a diet coke instead of a tall beer. Drinking is the “go to” thing to do with friends, and it’s about time that we got more creative with our outings. I’ve formed a funny habit of having one drink (whether wine or beer) before bed as a reward for the day. Going to switch that out for my favorite herbal tea!

    Thanks for the challenge!

    C

  6. Thank you for sharing your story, Terri.

    Your challenge came at the perfect time and I am ALL IN. It’s a frightening proposition but I need to break some old (unhealthy) coping habits and learn to face the painful things in my life, head-on. This could be the catalyst which initiates an entire series of life altering changes.

    Two days down and I feel fine, with my cup of tea instead of wine.

    I’ll keep you posted 🙂

  7. Terri,

    Thank you for posting this challenging opportunity. Alcohol has been a major issue in my life since my father past away seven years ago. I always turn to alcohol when I am feeling down, and out and I am so ready for change. I have made so many bad decisions under the influence of alcohol, and I have to admit typing these words does frighten me. I don’t always get around to reading all your emails, but because alcohol has been such a burden in my life I could barely wait to read this one. I really want to be a better me, and I appreciate your encouragement.

  8. Okay Terri, I am game. Although I am not a faithful of all of your posts just due to being overwhelmed by email. The ones I have chosen to sit down and read have had an impact. So I figured there must be a reason I chose to read today’s post. So here I go, 21 days alcohol free. Feeling a bit apprehensive, especially since I just bought a bottle of my favorite wine to console myself after a very stressful day. Thank you, Terri, once again, right words on the right day.
    Peace,
    Kathy

  9. I can certainly join you. I am on alcohol-free day 16 today. Decided whilst I had a break in Nelson at the end of March that I wanted to lose a bit of weight for my upcoming Bali trip! So I guess it is for health reasons. I don’t usually drink much (shared bottle with hubby at weekends), glass here or there with friends yet I feel clearer-headed, full of willpower & strangely not missing it much. I now get to eat my 120 odd calories instead which nourishes my body & makes me feel more satisfied. I’ll play along Terri 😉

    1. Kylia-
      Yes I do in fact 😉 Step down slowly so even if you are going to do the 21 days create a step down period. Start with just one cup a day not one to two then move on from there…you can do it! Check out what my pal, Dr. Frank Lipman had to say about how to avoid withdrawal symptoms http://www.drfranklipman.com/ten-reasons-to-quit-your-coffee/ (scroll down the article and you will see it) <3

      1. Terri,
        I suceeded! I no longer have any cravings or desire to drink coffee. I switched to green tea, which my naturopath has been trying to have me do for several years. I did have a few bad days with migraines at the beginning. I also became that I was using coffee to cope with emotional feelings. After going through the withdrawal once again, I have no desire to even have an occasional coffee. Thank you for the challenge.

    1. Patricia-
      Start by imagining if you were on a medication and could not drink for a period of time. Would you stay in your house or would you still see friends? Think about how much your connection to your friends is built on drinking and maybe taking a break, even just for 21 days will give you some insight. If you are not unhappy with how you feel or what you are doing then there is no need to change it. This is an opportunity to have a different experience if you choose to. I have a ton of fun and have not had a drink for many years…life is pretty awesome stone cold sober in my opinion and if you try it and hate it you can always pick it up again.

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