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Why Is Going Cold Turkey Bad? 4 Reasons Why

Drug addiction is a disease that requires drug detox, intensive treatment, and follow-up care. Most drug addictions also lead to uncomfortable or dangerous withdrawal symptoms. Such symptoms can only be appropriately managed with the help of medically supervised detox.

Although drug addiction impacts the life of the user and those around them immensely, simply quitting cold turkey can have detrimental ramifications to your health and life.

Why Is Going Cold Turkey Bad?

Doctor diagnose patient symptoms at the hospital

What Is Going Cold Turkey?

Going cold turkey is suddenly stopping the use of a substance you're dependent on without intervention or support. This method depends heavily on willpower to manage the withdrawal symptoms and cravings. 

This method is attractive to many people because it is fast or seems to be. People believe that you don't have to taper off or go through detox or rehab if you just stop taking a drug. 

However, willpower isn't enough to overpower withdrawal symptoms, especially from a severe and long-term addiction to anything more potent than cigarettes. 

The term "cold turkey" is derived from the look of goosebumps many people get when they have cold sweats and shiver during the first few days of withdrawal. The goosebumps look like the skin of a turkey when in the refrigerator, acknowledging that these symptoms are still present during this method.

4 Risks of Going Cold Turkey

Although going cold turkey may seem like the easiest or quickest method of quitting a dangerous substance, it's full of well-known risks. These risks are easily avoidable with proper treatment. 

Before you consider going cold turkey, it is best to understand why it is a mistake.

#1. Dangerous and Uncomfortable Withdrawal Symptoms

Experiencing acute withdrawal from substance abuse is more than unpleasant. The intensity of withdrawal symptoms can be severe and even life-threatening, especially when you suddenly stop taking a drug your body is accustomed to. 

In 2019, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) publicly identified serious harm, such as uncontrolled pain, psychological distress, and suicide, due to the sudden discontinuation of opioids. Because of this, the FDA required companies to update their labels with a guide on gradual tapering. 

Although this is exclusive to opioid use, it shows the severity of withdrawal symptoms. 

Some more common symptoms you could experience include: 

  • Depression and anxiety
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Mood swings and agitation
  • Aches and pains
  • Abdominal pain and diarrhea
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia and restlessness
  • Seizures
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Tremors
  • Hallucinations

It may seem like the more minor symptoms are manageable on your own, but there is no predicting what symptoms you'll experience when going cold turkey. There is no need to go through such pain and torment when these symptoms can be treated with medical intervention in a detox facility.

#2. Lack of Treatment for Underlying Conditions

Some people may find going cold turkey less intimidating than traditional drug treatment programs because they won't have to address emotional traumas or causes that led to their addiction. 

In most cases, addiction is not just a physical illness but is caused by emotional stress, lack of coping mechanisms, or an underlying mental health condition. Without seeking proper treatment for detox and rehab, those issues will not be resolved. 

Going cold turkey will lead to relapse. When the cause of the problem isn't dealt with, the problem will continue to resurface. 

#3. No Emotional Support

Quitting a drug cold turkey means you are doing it on your own at home. You might have a roommate or family member there to offer you water or food, but you don't have the proper care and guidance that leads to recovery.

In a detox center, the care team will offer not only medical intervention for withdrawal symptoms but also provide emotional and psychological support. You have access to therapists trained to help you, peer support, and additional methods for staying sober and regaining control of your life. 

Asking for help is not failure. It shows great strength in your commitment to recovery. 

#4. Likelihood of Relapse

Going cold turkey means you skip not just detox but also the treatment and ongoing care that prevents relapse. Often, going cold turkey leads to such intense withdrawal symptoms immediately that, later on, returning to substance use is inevitable.

Even if someone manages to abstain from using drugs until they've stopped experiencing withdrawal symptoms, the odds of remaining sober are slim. Without establishing and treating the cause of the addiction, learning healthy coping mechanisms, and stress management, you will struggle to handle life changes.

When something that triggers anxiety, depression, or even minor stress arises, the urge to use will be intense. Without learning how to handle those urges and avoid triggers, it is easy to fall back into old habits.

How to Treat Addiction

Overcoming substance dependence is the safest with a team of medical professionals in a detox and treatment center. The support, aid, and care provided by accredited facilities are what lead you to recovery success. 

Cold Turkey Is Dangerous And Potentially Life-Threatening

Going cold turkey is not just something you should try out and see if you can hack. It can be incredibly dangerous and even life-threatening. Going cold turkey may seem fast, but the symptoms of withdrawal, along with the underlying causes of addiction, are left untreated. Without proper treatment through medical detox, you are putting your body through unnecessary harm.

Asking for help and seeking treatment from an addiction center are not signs of weakness but show strength of character and a genuine desire to recover. Don’t overlook the benefits of proper detox and treatment for drug addiction. The care and support provided by a medical team are unmatched by anything you could do on your own. These workers are trained to provide you with everything you need to recover successfully.

Forego going cold turkey and reach out to us at today. We are here to help you find the best detox center near you. Start searching with today!

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