The health risks of drinking alcohol — from brain and liver damage to weight gain — are well known, yet alcohol use remains widespread. Popular culture portrays alcohol as a harmless way to relax and have fun. An occasional glass of wine with dinner or beer in the backyard isn’t too bad, but even one alcoholic drink does some damage to the body, and it can be challenging to stop at just one. So if you’ve been drinking alcohol lately, you can detox your body’s system from its effects by completely abstaining for a while.
I go weeks or even months between drinking any alcoholic beverages. From time to time, I enjoy a hard apple cider at an Irish pub or a glass of sangria wine at a social event. But I always stop at one drink only. I’ve never gotten drunk. If I never drank any alcohol beverages again, I wouldn’t miss them much, either. Since I barely drink any alcohol, my body isn’t desensitized to it, and just one drink is enough for me to feel that pleasant “buzz” that many people enjoy from alcohol. Most importantly, I keep my mind clear. Mental impairment is too high a price for me to pay for any type of enjoyment. By exercising self-control with alcoholic drinks, I make sure they don’t control me.
Many people I know and love, however, struggle to control their alcohol consumption — especially when they’re drinking as a way of trying to escape from stressful problems. It’s easy to become addicted to alcohol. When I worked for The Salvation Army’s national magazines, I edited story after story about people working hard in rehab centers to rebuild their lives from the destruction that alcohol caused.
Here are some ways you can detox your body from alcohol:
- If you’re addicted to alcohol, get help now. Reach out to caring, trustworthy friends and family, go to rehab, and participate in counseling or a support group.
- If you’re not addicted but tend to overindulge, cut back to just one alcoholic beverage every time you drink and notice how good it feels to think clearly and feel fully in each present moment rather than numbing your senses with alcohol.
- If you drink alcohol just occasionally like I do, abstain completely the next time you feel like having a drink (such as when you’re at a party). Fulfill your craving for an alcoholic beverage with something healthier that you also enjoy, like eating fresh fruit.
- No matter how much alcohol you usually drink, consider the emotional factors that are fueling your desire to drink it, and identify any unhealthy patterns you can start changing. Why do you drink? What negative feelings are you trying to escape from through alcohol? What pleasant feelings are you trying to experience by drinking alcohol? Prayer and meditation can help you figure out how you’ve been using alcohol to deal with your emotions, and how you can start expressing those emotions in healthier ways.
- Drink lots of water — at least 8 to 10 glasses every day. Water flushes out toxins from your body’s cells, so it will help get rid of toxins your body has stored from alcohol consumption.
Whitney Hopler writes about how to pursue wellness in body, mind, and spirit.