I’ve been thinking about the “scare straight” approach, and why it doesn’t jive with me (or with science, more on that later).

I’m not into scare tactics, never have been.

I remember in high school how angry I felt when the police officers came to give an anti-drug presentation.

They spread out a body bag on the floor and then had a volunteer (a student!) from the audience come up in front of everybody. They basically said that if you smoked marijuana, you would end addicted to heroin and on the street (and don’t worry, they had a slideshow depicting the most addiction-ravaged people they could find, sitting on the streets with needles stuck in their arms) and would probably end up dead.

Then they asked the volunteer to climb into the body bag and they asked us to imagine how his friends and family would feel.

I was enraged, and marched into my guidance counsellors office, shaking with anger and tears streaming down my face. Even at that age, I knew that a presentation like this could traumatize some kids while having very little effect on the actual outcomes they were striving for, ie stopping kids from using drugs.

And of course, these one-off “scared straight” type programs have since been proven ineffective in actually reducing teen drug use and have actually shown to backfiredcomplete when it comes to milder drugs like weed and cigarettes.

I was sitting at the office yesterday when I friend sent me this article about the increasing number of deaths related to liver disease (and alcohol).

As I read through it, I immediately thought two things.

First, that I wanted to share it with you… because it’s important and yes, dare I say, “sobering” information about what constitutes binge drinking and the effect it has on your liver.

Immediately following that thought was, “I can see how the “scared-straight” peeps could take this and run with it…”

Sure enough, while I was scrolling through social media before bed last night (not part of my regular bedtime routine – I was actually doing it intentionally), I saw leaders in the “sober” communities sharing this article as evidence as to why alcohol is evil and should be abstained from completely.

And then in the comments under their posts, I saw responses like:

“See, this is why we should NEVER DRINK.”

“OMG, and yet the article still talks about moderation, AS IF IT’S EVER A GOOD IDEA TO DRINK.”

“This article writes about how alcohol is poisoning your liver and then tells us it’s okay to drink, WTF, it’s NOT.”

And also people who were reading these comments and were genuinely really concerned and fearful about the damage they may have caused their livers, and I could see them spiralling down a rabbit hole of worry and regret.

Yes, this surge of liver cancer and the studies showing how alcohol can affect us IS scary, but remember, knowledge is power. 

If you’re worried about something, go get your liver functioning checked, and make the necessary changes!  Unless you have advanced cirrhosis, most liver damage IS reversible.

(fun fact, when I was 20 years old I was hired as the coordinator for YouthCO AIDS Society’s provincial Hepatitis C program… so I actually know A LOT about the liver!! Questions – ask me!!)

If you are worried about the potential of liver damage and how your drinking might have contributed, use this information as the motivation to make some changes, whether or not you are ready, or even want to, stop drinking completely.

If you read this article and realize that sometimes you drink to the extent that would be considered ‘binge drinking’  (4 or more drinks in one sitting) then consider reducing the amount that you drink in a sitting by at least one drink. For example, if you’re used to drinking 5 drinks in a night out, the next time you go out, try for 4, or 3.

If you read this article and are worried that your daily drinking might be taking its toll on your liver, try reducing the amount you drink daily by half a glass, then a glass, or taking a day off to start, then two.

To help you get started, I’m sharing the worksheets that were previously reserved for my private clients. In these worksheets, you can create your vision of what you’d like your relationship to alcohol to look like, understand what needs were being met by alcohol, and how to create an “alcohol agreement” with yourself to stick to your new intentions.

Once you’ve completed the first worksheets, you may realize you want to go deeper into the journey of “redefining sobriety” aka your relationship to alcohol. I designed the Redefining Sobriety Self-Study program specifically with this in mind. In this 8-week program, you will be guided through pre-recorded videos and worksheets to create strategies that work for you and create lasting change. You can click here to read more about the self-study program and get started today.

If you’d like SUPPORT around how to do this, please reach out. I always love connection calls and have opened up some extra time in my calendar next week.

This is EXACTLY what I do – provide non-judgemental support and tailor strategies to meet your unique experiences and desires for yourself and your relationship to alcohol.

Again, knowledge is power.

Remember that your body is beautiful and strong and resilient and WANTS optimal health.

The last thing I want is for you to spiral into a pit of shame and feel paralyzed by regret. We’ve all done things that were harmful to our bodies but there is nothing you can do to change the past other than forgive yourself for the choices you made then, and start to choose differently now.

That’s what I’m here to support you with.

Cheers to healthier livers, and lives!!