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What Are the Dangers of Quitting Alcohol Cold Turkey?

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According to the National Council of Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) there are more than 17 million people in America that struggle with alcohol use disorder. In addition, the 2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reports that 60 million people ages 12 older engaged in binge drinking in the past month.

While alcohol may be socially accepted and consumed frequently, it can also be the most deadly substance to kick. It’s true, quitting alcohol cold turkey can lead to life-threatening health risks. However, many individuals still think this is the fastest way to sobriety.

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be extremely severe. If your alcohol use is not serious enough to cause life-threatening withdrawal symptoms, they will likley still be uncomfortable. Individuals seeking recovery from alcohol use disorder may be eager to beat their addiction, but it’s important to make the right decisions to be sure it lasts. Looking for professional help like an alcohol detox is crucially important if you’re quitting drinking in order to protect your well-being.

What Exactly Is the Cold Turkey Method?

stop drinking cold turkey

The Cold Turkey method refers to abruptly quitting alcohol consumption without gradually reducing how much you’re drinking. It requires a lot of willpower and determination, and can cause withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, headaches, sweating, and shaking. This method is often used by individuals who want to quit drinking but cannot, or do not want to attend a treatment or detox program.

Abruptly stopping alcohol consumption can have serious health consequences, as stated earlier. Individuals who choose this method should be prepared to manage the withdrawal symptoms that follow. They should also definetly have someone look after them, preferably a healthcare professional.

What Happens in Your Body When You Quit Cold Turkey?

When someone stops drinking alcohol suddenly, their body undergoes a series of changes as it adjusts to the absence of this substance. The following are some of the most common physical and psychological symptoms associated with sudden alcohol cessation:

  • Withdrawal symptoms: The severity and length of withdrawal symptoms depend on the amount of alcohol an individual consumed and for how long. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and include sweating, nausea, vomiting, tremors, and seizures.
  • Increased blood pressure and heart rate: Long-term alcohol abuse can lead to high blood pressure and an elevated heart rate. Stopping alcohol suddenly can cause these levels to spike, leading to heart palpitations, shortness of breath, and dizziness.
  • Difficulty sleeping: Alcohol can help individuals fall asleep, but it disrupts the second half of the sleep cycle, making it more challenging to achieve a restful night’s sleep. When alcohol consumption stops, insomnia may occur as the body learns to sleep naturally.
  • Mood swings: Alcohol can affect neurochemicals in the brain, leading to mood swings and even depression. When alcohol stops, individuals may experience swings between excitment and depression.
  • Dehydration: Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it causes your body to expel water. Suddenly stopping alcohol consumption can lead to dehydration, which can cause headaches and dry mouth.
  • Returned appetite: Alcohol is higher in calories and can suppress your appetite. When an individual stops drinking, their appetite may return, leading to weight gain if they do not maintain a balanced diet.

Typically people begin feeling these symptoms somewhere between hours to a few days after stopping drinking. Symptoms may last for several days to a few weeks. This is why it’s important to get professional medical advice before completely quitting alcohol use.

What’s the Success Rate of Quitting Cold Turkey?

The success rate for quitting drinking cold turkey without any assistance or medical supervision is generally low. According to studies, up to 80% of people who attempt to quit drinking cold turkey will relapse within the first month. So while it might be tempting to stop drinking cold turkey, the likelyhood that you’ll be successful is pretty low.

It’s generally recommended that people seek professional medical help when attempting to quit drinking, as medical professionals can provide support and guidance to help ensure a safe and successful recovery. This greatly improves your chances of becoming sober.

What Are the More Dangerous Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal?

As mentioned before alcohol withdrawal can be a severe and create potentially life-threatening symptoms, particularly in those who have been dependent on alcohol for a long period of time. Some of the more dangerous symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include:

  • Delirium tremens (DTs) – a severe form of alcohol withdrawal that can cause hallucinations, fever, seizures, and rapid heartbeat.
  • Seizures – can occur during alcohol withdrawal and can be life-threatening if left untreated.
  • High blood pressure – a rapid increase in blood pressure can lead to severe complications, such as stroke or heart attack.
  • Respiratory failure – alcohol withdrawal can cause respiratory depression, or the slowing or stopping of breathing, which can lead to a lack of oxygen in the brain and other organs.
  • Dehydration and electrolyte imbalances – can occur due to vomiting, diarrhea, and sweating during alcohol withdrawal. This can be life-threatening if not managed properly.

Attempting to stop drinking cold turkey puts your body at risk for serious medical issues. If you want to quit alcohol, there are safer and more effective ways to do so and it’s best not to take the risk of quitting on your own. If you’re serious about overcoming alcohol dependence, be serious about the choices you make to achieve this.

What Is the Best Treatment for Alcoholism?

The best type of professional treatment for alcoholism depends on the individual’s alcohol dependence and personal needs. Generally, the following types of professional treatment can be effective in overcoming alcohol abuse:

Alcohol detox is the process of removing alcohol from the body while managing the withdrawal symptoms. Alcohol detox is usually the first step in recovering from alcohol addiction. During alcohol detox, individuals stop drinking alcohol to allow their body to process and eliminate it from their system.

An alcohol detox program provides medication to help manage withdrawal symptoms, supervision by medical professionals, and counseling support. The length of alcohol detox will depend on the person’s use case scenario.

It’s important to remember that detox alone is usually not sufficient to achieve long-term sobriety from alcohol addiction.

Alcohol addiction treatment is typically available as an inpatient or outpatient form of care. Inpatient treatment means you’ll reside at the facility while outpatient means you get treatment during the days or evenings and go home afterward. For either program you’ll attend a range of therapies with approaches designed to help individuals stop drinking and maintain long-term sobriety.

The goal of alcohol addiction treatment is not just to help someone quit drinking for a short period but also to help them make lasting behavioral and lifestyle changes to maintain their recovery. Inpatient treatment is considered the best form of care for someone with serious alcohol abuse issues, while outpatient care can be effective for someone with mild alcohol use disorder. An addiction treatment specialist can help you determine which form will work best for you.

It’s important to note that treatment for alcoholism is highly personalized, and what works for one person may not work for another. It’s critical to seek professional medical help if you have concerns about your alcohol use or if you experience withdrawal symptoms. A medical professional can provide personalized guidance and support to help you quit drinking alcohol safely and successfully.

How To Quit and Refrain From Alcohol Use

The best ways to refrain from drinking alcohol can vary from person to person. In general, you’ll want to find a new approach to life that doesn’t include people, places, or things that used to be part of your experiences drinking.

  • Seeking professional help – Seeking professional help is the first step in getting the right support in order to quit effectively. This will help you figure out your best possible plan for recovery that’s succesful.
  • Joining a support group – Support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) can provide emotional support and community while going through the recovery process. This can be especially helpful after you finish addiction treatment.
  • Developing new habits – Replace drinking with new healthy habits such as exercise, meditation, or spending time with friends. Find out what other activities you enjoy, and engage in relaxing self-care. You deserve a reward for your hard work!
  • Avoiding triggers – Identify triggers that prompt you to drink and avoid situations or people that make you want to drink. These would most likely be the people, places and things that relate with drinking. Don’t feel bad for cutting these out of your life. This is a necessary step in order for you to grow!
  • Addressing co-occurring disorders – Alcohol addiction can often be accompanied by other mental health disorders such as anxiety or depression. Treating these underlying conditions can help address the root cause of the addiction. Without addressing these, you’re more likely to relapse.
  • Setting goals – Set specific and achievable goals for yourself that are not related to drinking. This could be searching for a new job or taking on a new project like painting your house. Even small goals like taking walk 15 minutes a day can give you a sense of accomplishment and provide motivation to stay in recovery!

It is important to remember that quitting alcohol can be difficult and may require multiple attempts. Thats why addiction is considered a chronic relapsing disease as many people have difficulty sticking with it. There’s no shame in trying to quit your addiction more than once, but attending rehab is often the most effective way to quit alcohol use completely.

Contact Magnolia City Detox to Learn More About Alcohol Addiction Treatment

quitting alcohol cold turkey

Magnolia City offers comprehensive alcohol addiction treatment solutions to help people overcome this chronic illness. If you or a loved one is struggling to find a way to quit drinking alcohol we can help! We offer professional detox and residential treatment near Houston, Texas. Our addiction treatment team is extremely experienced in all cases of drug and alcohol abuse and will create a custom treatment plan that fits your unique needs! Call today to learn how Magnolia City Detox will help you become free from alcohol addiction and live a sober life!

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