Quitting cold turkey is most likely something that anyone with an addiction considers at one time or another. It’s easy to think this might be the right approach to ending addiction, especially if you believe that substance abuse is a choice.
The problem is that addiction isn’t a habit, which implies that stopping is simply a mental exercise. Addiction is a disease with physical and mental side effects when you stop and that makes the cold turkey approach harder. Reach out to an addiction treatment center today to find out how to heal without quitting cold turkey.
What Is Addiction?
Addiction is a chronic, relapsing disease that affects the chemistry of the brain. Drugs like heroin or alcohol trigger the release of feel-good chemicals in the brain. The feeling of euphoria is what draws you back to use the drug over and over.
Eventually, the brain builds up a tolerance to the chemical, so you must increase the dosage to feel the same effect. It also makes it harder to do other things that make you feel good like exercise.
What Happens When You Stop Cold Turkey?
Drug use changes the chemistry of the brain. It becomes used to getting the drug and starts to withhold these feel-good chemicals unless you do use that substance. When you stop suddenly, you create a chemical imbalance in the brain that comes with side effects. This is known as withdrawal.
Withdrawal, or detox, occurs as the brains try to regain chemical balance. During this time, you experience uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous side effects. Withdrawal symptoms can include:
- Muscle aches
Some people experience seizures and hallucinations, too. Quitting cold turkey from alcohol can also cause delirium tremens (DTs) which are potentially life-threatening.
Should You Try to Stop Cold Turkey?
There are many factors involved in stopping drug use including what kind of substance you use, how much of it you take regularly, and how often you take it. In most cases, cold turkey is not the easiest or safest way to do it.
What tends to happen is once the side effects start, people become so uncomfortable they use the drug again to make them stop. If you do decide to try to quit cold turkey, you should talk to your doctor first. Also, have someone stay with you during this time. They can make sure you drink plenty of water and just provide some comfort. They are also there to get you medical attention should you need it.
You’ll want to have plenty of over-the-counter medications on hand like pain relievers and antidiarrheals. Also, stock up on sports drinks and bottled water to stay hydrated.
What Is the Alternative to Going Cold Turkey?
The good news about considering going cold turkey when ending addiction is it means you are ready to move towards recovery. The best approach is to get professional help when you do. A medically assisted detox program provides you both security and comfort as the brain works to rebalance.
If your addiction involves an opioid like heroin or alcohol, they can even offer you medication that will help control the withdrawal. Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) programs allow you to take prescription medication that helps to curb cravings while you underdo behavior modification therapy.
Contact San Antonio Recovery Center Today
If you are struggling with relapse or addiction then getting treatment means you don’t have to find the path to recovery alone. San Antonio Recovery Center offers programs based on the 12-step philosophy.
San Antonio Recovery Center’s services include:
- Residential treatment
- Intensive outpatient therapy
- Aftercare services
- 90-day treatment options
SARC also strives to keep our program affordable, so you don’t have to try to quit cold turkey.