On day three of Lowell Cauffiel’s final detox from alcohol, a giant rabbit in a tuxedo and top hat tapped on the window of his second-floor bedroom.
Cauffiel, a bestselling true crime author, Hollywood screenwriter and producer purposely didn’t go to rehab 34 years ago. When he abruptly stopped drinking two fifths of bourbon a day, he wanted to experience the full effect of withdrawal.
The week-long process started with the feeling that his “guts were being pulled out.” He shook. He sweat. He suffered some very vivid hallucinations.
“I knew it was going to be rough, but I wanted to use it as a motivation to stay sober,” Cauffiel says.
It was, and it worked. Cauffiel never took another drink.
But he could have killed himself.
Doctors say alcohol is often the most dangerous substance for the body to withdraw from – and still more so, when attempted without medical supervision.
About 16 million people in the United States have alcohol use disorder, which the National Institutes of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism define as “compulsive alcohol use, loss of control over alcohol intake, and a negative emotional state when not using.”