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Going Cold Turkey : 9 Reasons Why It’s Dangerous

going cold turkey

Are you struggling with addiction? Are you thinking of Going Cold Turkey?

When you or someone you love is gripped by substance abuse, it may seem like the only way is going cold turkey. However, this isn’t the right way to fix it.

This approach doesn’t get to the root of the problem. In fact, it can even enhance it, causing intense withdrawal symptoms that drive addicts to return to the substances they’re trying to escape from.

Simply stopping altogether isn’t just ineffective, it’s dangerous. In this post, we’ll tell you why.

Read on to find out what happens to the mind and body when you go cold turkey.

9 Things that Going Cold Turkey Can Cause

Quitting on your own is rarely a successful endeavor. Here’s why.

1. Insomnia

Whether you’re quitting heroin, opioids, cocaine, alcohol, or other addictive substances, you’re likely to experience sleeping problems during the withdrawal period.

Some addicts say that it takes up to six months just to return to a normal sleeping pattern. During this time, sleep deprivation makes the entire process more difficult, causing extreme fatigue.

At some clinics, medication is provided to help patients get a more restful sleep, so that their withdrawal can be more comfortable.

2. Seizures

When someone is addicted to a substance, their body becomes accustomed to receiving it on a regular basis. Eventually, it gets to the point where it relies on it. When you quit cold turkey and simply take this substance away, this can be a huge shock to the system.

This shock can cause seizures in some addicts.

Seizures are common during withdrawal, especially for those who are detoxing from alcohol. They can occur as soon as a few hours after withdrawal, but sometimes take a few days to set in.

These seizures can be scary and dangerous experiences, sometimes posing huge health risks. That’s why the supervision of medical professionals is so important.

3. Vomiting and Diarrhea

During a cold-turkey withdrawal period, it’s common to experience nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

This, combined with profuse sweating, means that there is a high risk of becoming dehydrated. During withdrawal, it’s vital that patients food and water intake are monitored to keep their health in check. In some cases, an intravenous drip may be required in order to maintain hydration levels.

4. Pain

Quitting alcohol or substance abuse habit isn’t just mentally taxing, it also creates physical pain.

Addicts often report experiencing aches, pains and muscle cramps throughout the body, as well as severe headaches. This pain can sometimes reach unbearable levels, prompting them to fall back into substance abuse simply to make it stop.

5. Lack of Support

Going through a drug or alcohol detox at a clinic isn’t just recommended for your physical health. It has a number of benefits for your overall wellness, too.

One of them is support. A detox is an incredibly challenging time for any addict, and no one should have to go through it alone.

During a medical detox, patients have access to one-on-one therapy, group counseling, workshops and other activities to help them quit successfully. Without this support, their chances are significantly lower.

As well as offering guidance, these sessions provide a sense of community. They can socialize with other patients who have similar experiences, share their stories, and create a support network to help you through their detox. This gives them a much better chance of staying on the straight and narrow.

6. Mental Health Issues

A detox is difficult in any case, but when there are underlying mental health issues that haven’t been treated, it becomes even more complicated.

Addictions, detoxes and mental health problems can feed into each other, with the effects going both ways.

For example, those who are addicted to alcohol or drugs are twice as likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders. At the same time, withdrawal can cause these mental health issues in people who have no prior history with them.

Some people find that the mental effects of going cold turkey cause them to lose all enthusiasm and motivation, even for things they used to enjoy.

In some cases, patients even experience suicidal thoughts. This is why medical support is absolutely vital.

There’s no use in trying to diagnose or treat these problems alone. Instead, patients need to see experienced medical professionals who can give them individual evaluations and treatment plans.

7. Reduced Cognitive Abilities

Addiction has a huge impact on the brain, changing the way it works using neurotransmitters and hormones.

One of the main effects is an alteration of the brains’ reward system. This is what creates a euphoric feeling when abusing certain substances. When this substance is removed, cognitive function can be impaired.

It’s common to experience memory loss, lack of concentration, and difficulties with learning and reasoning. In some patients, these symptoms are fleeting, but in serious cases, they can be permanent.

8. Relapse

If you don’t take the right steps when you quit drugs or alcohol, your addiction could come back to haunt you.

This means getting the right help along the way. If you don’t, you’re much more likely to relapse and fall victim to your previous addictive behaviors.

While you may feel determined when you start out, it’s difficult to maintain on your own once the withdrawal symptoms have set it. Enlist the help of others to keep you on the right path.

9. Death

In the worst case scenario, going cold turkey can be fatal.

The symptoms listed above may not seem particularly dangerous on their own, but if they’re left to develop into severe cases without medical treatment, they can cause death.

Don’t Go Cold Turkey Get the Help You Need

Going cold turkey isn’t the right way to beat your addiction.

However, fear and isolation can cause many addicts to take this route. Asking for help can be incredibly difficult, causing many addicts to try and battle their demons on their own.

You don’t have to do it this way.

Read our post on the negative stigma of addiction to find out why you should reach out for help.

Do You Need Help Finding Treatment?

Recovery Resource Center provides information on the best evidence-based treatment centers for people struggling with addiction and mental health.