If you’re particularly inspired to get sober, you might be considering the idea of quitting “cold turkey” without professional assistance or supervision. Unfortunately, quitting cold turkey isn’t the answer for most substances, including street drugs, alcohol, and prescription drugs. A cold turkey approach may put you in danger and significantly reduce the chances of a successful recovery.
The Appeal of Quitting Cold Turkey
It’s understandable why some people think quitting cold turkey is the best option. Firstly, it’s the most affordable option – you don’t have to pay for a rehabilitation facility, therapy, detox, or recovery programs. Additionally, you get all the credit for getting better “all by yourself.” You get to prove to everyone that you had the strength to quit independently.
In reality, these are both flimsy excuses that simply don’t hold up. Firstly, your life and your recovery are both worth investing in. A rehabilitation center increases the chances of a successful recovery, so it’s worth the price.
Secondly, addiction is a disease of the brain, so your mind and body are working against you. You need professional help to get the tools and resources you need to get better. However, even with this help, you’ll still ultimately be the one who takes charge and gets clean.
Additionally, quitting cold turkey comes with unnecessary risks to your health and your chances of a successful recovery.
4 Reasons Why Quitting Substances Cold Turkey is the Wrong Choice
1. Detox Doesn’t Have to be So Hard
Detox is challenging. Your body has become reliant on the substance and it “rebels” against you when you cut off its supply. Unfortunately, these unpleasant withdrawal symptoms can increase the chances that you’ll relapse.
When you detox in a rehabilitation facility, you may be given medications to reduce the severity of your detox symptoms. This makes your detox process a little less challenging, which increases the chances of a successful detox.
2. Medical Risks
The most concerning part about quitting cold turkey is the medical risks involved. Your body can go into shock when you cut off the supply of a substance it’s become reliant on. Some individuals detoxing from alcohol are at risk of delirium tremens, which can bring on seizures, hallucinations, and chest pain. Individuals detoxing from benzodiazepines (valium, Klonopin, halcyon) can also have life-threatening complications such as seizures, tremors, and hallucinations.
A professional rehabilitation center will examine you to determine if a medical detox is necessary. Additionally, if you choose an inpatient program, you’ll be monitored 24/7 with medical staff nearby if you require help.
3. Smoother Transition From Detox to Recovery
After a successful detox, you can transition into the next stage of recovery. There are five common stages to recovery:
- Acknowledgment of addiction
- Awareness of addiction
- Recovery exploration
- Start addiction recovery
- Ongoing aftercare and recovery
When your detox is over, you’ll transition into stage four: starting your addiction recovery.
If you were to quit cold turkey at home, you wouldn’t necessarily know what to do after detox. This feeling of uncertainty can put you at a high risk of relapse as you struggle to figure out your next step.
Alternatively, when you’re working with a professional recovery program, you’re naturally taken into the next steps. You will start addiction education, therapy programs, and support groups. You’re guided through a process that has worked for thousands of people. At a time when you feel uncertain and venerable, a professional program can act as a support system and a guiding hand.
4. Doesn’t Address the Root Cause of Your Addiction
In comparison, a professional facility will help you address your addiction head-on. You’ll go through therapy to understand what led you down a substance abuse path and learn coping mechanisms, so you don’t repeat past mistakes. You may also find out important insights about yourself. For example, therapy might lead to a co-occurring mental health condition diagnosis. This is highly common as 53% of drug abusers and 30% of alcohol abusers have at least one mental health condition. If this applies to you, part of your substance abuse recovery is getting treatment for your co-occurring condition too.
Lastly, you’ll meet other people who want to stay clean and develop a like-minded support group. These people can help inspire you and show you what a different life looks like.
Often, asking for help is the strongest thing you can do. Bridges of Hope can help you in your path to recovery. Remember that you don’t have to do this alone.