Can I Quit Substance Use Cold Turkey?

Can I Quit Substance Use Cold Turkey?

One of the most critical parts of early sobriety and recovery is referred to as detoxification or detox. Most effectively completed in a treatment setting, detox is the process of withdrawing from alcohol and other drugs after frequent or chronic substance use.

Since it is often an uncomfortable process, many wonder about the effectiveness of quitting substance use cold turkey or without the assistance of a treatment program. Here, we will discuss the potential consequences that can result from abruptly stopping substance use at home and offer reasons why it is advised to complete detox with the help of a professional treatment center.

Understanding the Process of Detox

Although the process of detox can be completed through various treatment routes, all detox programs share the same goal: to safely and effectively manage withdrawal symptoms experienced by an individual attempting to stop their substance use. Detox is necessary because it clears harmful toxins from the body, which is often dependent on the substance. Without proper detox, there is an insufficient foundation to begin one’s sobriety and recovery journey.

Most, if not all, treatment facilities consider the detoxification process a necessity for clients to be properly admitted into a given treatment program. Going through the detox stage can be used as evidence of a strong commitment to sobriety, as it can be the most challenging phase of recovery for some.

Preparing for Withdrawal

One substantial reason why detox is necessary is that weaning off of chronic substance use can produce severe, unmanageable withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms are partly dependent on the substances being used, as well as the intensity, frequency, and duration of substance use.

The most common overlapping withdrawal symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, anxiety, and vomiting. Here are more specific withdrawal symptoms that can be expected when quitting certain substances:

  • Opioids: Watery discharge from eyes and nose, muscle cramps, hot or cold flashes, and increased perspiration
  • Benzos: Restlessness, increased agitation and irritability, poor concentration and memory, and muscle tension and aches
  • Stimulants: Depression, muscle aches, increased sleeping and appetite, increased agitation and irritability
  • Alcohol: Excessive perspiration, dehydration, increased heart rate and blood pressure, and insomnia
    • Severe alcohol use: Seizures, hallucinations, delirium, extreme fluctuations in body temperature and blood pressure, and extreme agitation
  • Cannabis: General feeling of fear, dissociation, irritability, poor appetite, disturbed sleep, gastrointestinal issues, night sweats, and tremors

The detox process is inevitably uncomfortable; however, with an assisted detox program, individuals can be monitored and supported by educated staff that will do everything they can to make the process as comfortable as possible. Certain treatment facilities also offer medication-assisted or medically supervised detox to help ease unmanageable withdrawal symptoms.

The Consequences of Quitting Cold Turkey

Quitting substance use cold turkey not only creates the potential of causing unmanageable withdrawal symptoms but also has limited benefits for long-term recovery. While many people may be able to stop smoking or vaping on their own, using other substances recreationally can quickly cause people to fall back into the cycle of addiction.

When detox is completed in a treatment facility, staff can help prepare the individual to enter a treatment program, which is vital for those wanting to establish long-term recovery. They can have the individual undergo assessments during detox that will help to place them in an appropriate treatment program that considers the level of care necessary to kickstart their recovery. Likewise, detox programs help to keep the individual accountable for their substance use, which can be a game-changer for preventing future relapse.

When an individual tries to quit their alcohol or drug use on their own, there is limited accountability given to them. They may quickly find themselves relapsing as there is no one around them to hold them accountable for their substance use. In the same way, treatment centers can make treatment programs seem more inviting and less intimidating during the detox process.

How to Prepare for Detox

For those interested in completing medically-supervised detox, there are some important things to note. While some treatment centers take walk-in clients, others are by appointment only. It is essential to research a treatment center thoroughly to know what type of care to expect as a client. On the other hand, if it is an emergency, be sure to voice this to the treatment facility upon arrival. At the very least, the treatment facility should be able to guide you to the closest detox treatment program.

Otherwise, there is very little that you have to do to prepare for detox. Understand that detox is never an easy process. During the moments you start to struggle, recognize that the first few days of withdrawals are the hardest. If it ever starts to seem unbearable, remind yourself that the discomfort of detox, treatment, and recovery is all worth it in the end.

As many people struggle with recurrent substance use, many wonder if they can quit substance use cold turkey. While withdrawal symptoms will vary based on the drug being used and the frequency, duration, and intensity of substance use, medically-supervised detox will always be the most effective way to withdraw from substances. Not only does it help to make withdrawal more manageable, but it also holds you accountable for staying sober and helps connect you with long-term treatment programs, which are necessary for establishing long-term recovery. SoCal Mental Health is a mental health and addiction treatment facility that understands the challenges involved with detoxing from alcohol and other drugs. We will not only help you safely withdraw from alcohol and drug use, but we will also create a customized treatment plan that will aid in long-term recovery success. Call (949) 502-2041 today. 

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