What Are the Dangers of a “Cold Turkey” Detox?

Whether you realize it or not, substance dependency can become part of who you are, and it encompasses nearly every part of your life. Quitting is a term often used to describe this and it means you are making a big change, as you are essentially stripping out something that has become part of the fabric of your life.

Your alcohol or drug use can become interwoven into everything you do, it’s part of your social life, it’s part of your family life, part of your stress management, part of your relaxation. When you remove this poisonous component in your life, you can expect many things to change. But are you willing to change? Can you handle the changes? Do you plan to quit intelligently using proven methods, or are you going to risk it all and quit cold turkey?

Before you decide to try the cold turkey approach, one which statistically hardly ever works, you might want to think a little past the bravado, ego, and romantic machoism. Let’s talk, shall we? 

I Am Not Like Everyone Else – I Can Do It!

Most of us believe that we can overcome most obstacles in our lives. This self-confidence is innate, after all, life is tough, and we are a pretty tough species. If humans hadn’t believed they could overcome problems and challenges they wouldn’t have been able to, and, if they hadn’t, none of us would be here today, would we? Even in modern-day life, we have serious challenges to conquer, and of course, minor problems to defeat daily. 

That’s all well and good, but when it comes to quitting ‘cold turkey’, well, there is a lot more to it. You see, when it comes to alcohol or drugs such as opioids or benzos, withdrawal symptoms are real, and they really affect your brain and body. No matter how tough you are, or how many challenges you’ve overcome to this point in your life, quitting ‘cold turkey’ poses more serious consideration. Even if you have the willpower to pull it off, and full-stop quit just like that, there may be a health price to pay. Don’t let your ego ruin your health.

The Health Risks of Cold Turkey Alcohol Detox

Depending on the severity of the alcohol addiction and the amount of damage already done to internal organs it can be quite dangerous to just stop. Did you know that quitting a severe alcohol dependency cold turkey could lead to kidney failure, heart attack, lung problems, hypophosphatemia, alcoholic ketoacidosis, delirium tremens, and even death?

No this isn’t an invitation for you to forget the whole idea of quitting, rather it’s a warning of sorts. A little ‘FYI’ for you. Sure, many have quit ‘cold turkey’, in fact, some have done it 100s of times over the years. Why put yourself and body through hell, if you are merely going to start drinking again in the future? Each time you relapse you are sending your friends, future, and self-confidence the wrong message. You are also damaging your body’s internal organs. Think it through and get the help you need to do it right once and for all. 

The Dangers of Cold Turkey Drug Dependency Detox

When it comes to drug dependency the health stakes can be even higher with cold turkey detox. It all depends on the type of drug, the concentration, how long it has been used, and what levels of tolerance the body has built up. It is considered highly ill-advised to try cold turkey detoxification without medical assistance.

Let’s say you are trying to quit a highly addictive drug, for example an opioid like Fentanyl or a benzodiazepine like Xanax. Trying to stop cold turkey is going to be nearly impossible and the side effects and health consequences can be severe. Such drugs, like opioids and benzos, rewire your brain, and if you stop taking them cold turkey you can have all kinds of overwhelming withdrawal symptoms such as seizures, cognitive disfunction, irregular heartbeats, vomiting, and more. These withdrawal symptoms can sometimes even lead to death. So again, don’t try to be the  “I don’t want anyone’s help” person. Everyone going through a serious dependency issue needs real help. 

What Is A Safe Way to Quit? 

Well, the safest way to quit would be to do it under the expert care of a doctor or at an actual addiction or detox treatment center. Find out if your healthcare provider will help pay for your treatment. Every person is unique, and every situation is a little different so, it’s best to consult with a medical professional or treatment center that understands your personal addiction and dependency issues to help advise you on the best, and more importantly the safest way to quit.

You have probably heard about pharmaceutical drugs that can substitute for your dependency during the detoxification period. For example suboxone is often used to treat opioid withdrawals. These prescription drugs can help with withdrawal symptoms as they make contact with the same receptors the abused substance did, thus helping wean you off gently. If you go to a treatment center and/or get the proper medical professional help in the process of detoxification, and follow the program, you’ll be able to quit with less severe withdrawal symptoms and with minimal health risks.

If you really want to test your willpower and ability to quit cold turkey we strongly advise speaking with your doctor first or consulting with a detox center first. Understand the risks you are about to take on. There are people who specialize in dependency and addiction, seek them out, and learn about your options. What works, what doesn’t, and why. Remember, the most important thing is that you detox safely and successfully, and you best chance of doing that is with the help of trained professionals who understand what both your mind and body are going through.  

If you or someone you know is struggling with dependency issues and considering quitting cold turkey, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We are always here to help.  

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