The meaning of Cold Turkey – In the state of drug withdrawal the addict’s blood is directed to the internal organs, leaving the skin white and with goose bumps. It has been suggested that this is what is alluded to by ‘cold turkey’.
Why can’t people just quit Cold Turkey?
Quitting cold turkey is more difficult than it sounds, especially when the person trying to quit drinking or using drugs doesn’t want to go to a rehab center. It’s understandable why rehab may seem unappealing: As Americans, we’re taught to be very independent. We can do everything by ourselves, all the time, always. However, this culturally-learned logic can be harmful when applied to quitting drugs or alcohol.
If you or someone you love is trying to stop drinking or using drugs, read these dangers associated with quitting cold turkey and going it alone.
The Dangers of Withdrawal
The biggest danger associated with quitting alcohol or drugs cold turkey is withdrawal. Withdrawal symptoms can become very severe for long-time, heavy drinkers or for people who use opioids like heroin or some kinds of pain medications. While it’s admirable that your loved one may be trying to quit his or her addiction, doing so cold turkey could be life-threatening.
In cases of severe alcohol withdrawal, symptoms can include mild withdrawal reactions like anxiety, shakiness, vomiting, and insomnia. However, alcohol withdrawal symptoms can become worse very quickly and lead to seizures and delirium tremens which can result in death. Delirium tremens are characterized by fever, rapid heartbeat, and confusion and anyone trying to stop drinking cold turkey who is displaying these symptoms should be taken to a hospital immediately.
Opioid withdrawal can also be highly dangerous for an opioid addict who is trying to quit cold turkey. Early signs of withdrawal may include anxiety, agitation, muscle aches, and sweating. However, these mild withdrawal symptoms may lead to diarrhea and vomiting. Complications from these latter symptoms include severe dehydration, and breathing stomach contents into the lungs.
To avoid the dangers associated withdrawal symptoms, your loved one should be enrolled in a detoxification program to ensure their safe entrance into sobriety.
The Dangers of Relapse
Relapse is a serious danger for alcoholics and drug addicts who have recently quit cold turkey. Without the help of a rehab center to motivate and support them, substance-addicted people tend to return to their old habits. This is because when many people decide to quit cold turkey, they think that they can avoid everyone and everything that has a negative influence on their behavior. However, this kind of avoidance is unrealistic, and these people often have difficulties reconciling their everyday routine with the new lack of alcohol and drugs in their lives.
Relapsing is especially dangerous because the risk of overdose is much higher for recently withdrawn or detoxed addicts. The person may try to use as much of the drug as he or she did in the past not realizing that his or her body can’t handle that amount anymore.
Seeking treatment at a rehab center is a crucial step in the addiction recovery process. Rehab allows the addicted person to recover from his or her addiction in an environment that is distanced from possible relapse temptations. When the person has completed rehab, many facilities also offer aftercare programs to ensure the client transitions from the rehab center to his or her home environment successfully.