it is not unusual for individuals to become addicted to certain drugs. Yet with a wide range of different options to choose from, it is also common that there are many different avenues to assist one with quitting. Some people may choose to slowly taper off substances, while others may opt for the cold turkey approach. Quitting substance use suddenly and abruptly, or “cold turkey,” can lead to many risks. Particularly, if the drug you are discontinuing is alcohol, a benzodiazepine, or an opiate.
It is also not advisable if you happen to have been using any drug in large amounts and/or for any long periods. This is because what you have been using may include one of the high-risk drugs mentioned above, or because it is common that you may suffer from extreme withdrawal symptoms.
The Appeal of Quitting Cold Turkey
For many addicts, quitting cold turkey seems to be more appealing as it may be easier to quit the drug entirely than to use it moderately. This is due to the fact that your usual mode is to take the drug in an unrestrained manner. Many individuals feel that they can more easily separate themselves from the world of drug use if they do so completely and at once, by avoiding all of the people, places, and other reminders of the drug and starting from scratch.
Yet the cold turkey approach may not be the most effective way to quit — especially for people who are dependent on a substance. Quitting too quickly can lead to unpleasant and challenging withdrawal symptoms and a powerful urge to start using the substance again.
Quitting can be dangerous to do on your own due to the way the nervous system tends to adapt to certain high dependency drugs. Taking these drugs out of your system all of a sudden can lead to a variety of serious and potentially life-threatening medical conditions, such as seizures and heart problems.
Even drugs that have a lesser physical dependence, such as cocaine, amphetamines, and nicotine, can lead to many severe and unpleasant withdrawal symptoms which can make life uncomfortable and emotionally difficult.
One danger of quitting cold turkey is that your body will quickly lose tolerance to alcohol or drugs, so if you end up relapsing and then take your usual amount of the drug, you are at a higher risk of overdose.
Common Withdrawal Symptoms Include
- Having trouble sleeping
- Nausea and vomiting
- Appetite changes
- Increased feelings of depression and/or anxiety
- Feeling agitated or irritable
- Body tremors
Withdrawal symptoms can last for differing time periods after quitting, depending on the substance involved. By choosing to go cold turkey, a person may experience much more extreme withdrawal symptoms initially.
Usually, someone who drinks or uses drugs heavily on a regular basis for a long time will suffer the most. Also, choosing to mix other drugs with alcohol can increase the levels of dependence as well.
Medical Supervision for Drug Abstinence Is Safest Option
This does not mean you cannot become abstinent, but especially if you are quitting alcohol, a benzodiazepine, or an opiate, it should be done under the guidance of a general practitioner or physician. They can provide you with the medication and tools to help lessen the effects of withdrawal. They may also recommend a program or facility to further assist you in your recovery. Doctors who particularly work with addiction issues have special training learning about addiction medicine and are particularly helpful in managing an individual with withdrawing safely.
In many cases, a brief period within detox can be the safest option so that medical staff is on hand in case there is a medical emergency. The staff can also help with providing access to any nutrition, hydration, and medications intravenously if you are suffering from any significant nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea during your withdrawal process.
However, there are many people who are able to detox safely within a home or in a community environment while also meeting regularly with their doctor or health professional to help ensure they remain well throughout the process. Your doctor may prescribe you certain different medications depending on the drug you are withdrawing from. Informing your loved ones is also recommended, so they can provide you with support and help you resist temptation if you are feeling the need to use again.
When to Call 000
If you or someone you know is showing signs of a heart attack or seizure while going through the process of quitting cold turkey, call 000 immediately. Symptoms of a heart attack may include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, or back
- Weakness, lightheadedness, or faintness
- Pain or discomfort in the arms or shoulder
- Irregular heartbeat
- High fever
- Severe confusion
Cold turkey can be an effective method for some individuals who are quitting other low-level forms of addiction. However, its success depends almost entirely on the amount of support the person receives while attempting to quit.
However, if an individual has a more serious drug dependence or wants to quit a severe drug addiction, going cold turkey can be very dangerous. Those hoping to quit an addiction to these substances should solicit medical advice immediately and there is no better place to turn than the leading rehab facility in Bali.
If you or someone you know is experiencing any concerning physical or neurological signs while choosing to quit cold turkey, make sure to call 000 immediately.