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What You Need to Know About Quitting Cold Turkey
Sometimes, people who are dependent or addicted to drugs or alcohol think that they can quit without going to drug rehab. They believe that quitting only requires time and self-discipline. However, going “cold turkey” rarely results in a successful recovery. Most times, the person cannot handle the devastating side effects of the cold turkey detox process and end up resorting to drug use to stop the pain and cravings. With each failed attempt, the side effects of detox worsen and relapse becomes more severe.
The harmful effects of withdrawal
When a drug or alcohol user quits without professional help, withdrawal symptoms often manifest quickly. In most cases, they are unpredictable, dangerous and even lethal. Common symptoms include vomiting, nausea, tremors, headache, increased heart rate, anxiety, confusion, irritability, nightmares, insomnia and sweating.
The most complicated form of withdrawal is delirium tremens (DTs), which often have side effects like seizures, hallucinations, high fever and extreme confusion. The condition is a medical emergency and needs immediate assistance. The symptoms usually worsen within days and can continue for several weeks.
Due to the dangers of withdrawal, the best option for anyone who wants to stop drug or alcohol use is to get professional treatment for addiction and dependence. This often means getting medical detox from a drug rehab facility.
The objective of treatment is to help the patient stay comfortable and manage their symptoms while they go through the first stage of addiction recovery. Although professional addiction treatment is effective for anybody struggling with drug or alcohol abuse, it has more advantages for those who are prone to severe health complications of detox, including patients who have:
- Poor health
- Addiction to multiple substances
- Pre-existing medical or psychiatric disorders
- Poor nutritional status
When to avoid quitting cold turkey
Going cold turkey is not advisable. And if any of the following conditions are applicable to a patient, they should never try to quit without medical help:
- Extreme intoxication. Medical professionals must constantly monitor the patient’s respiration and cardiovascular function until the level of alcohol drops to a safe range.
- Three or more failed attempts at detox. Complications are more common in a person who has tried unsuccessfully to quit multiple times.
- A previous case of seizures or DTs during withdrawal. Medications may be necessary to prevent seizures.
- Unstable psychiatric condition. If drugs or alcohol use was a sort of self-medication, removing the substance can worsen the symptoms of any present mental illness.
The advantages of a medical drug and alcohol detox program
Everyone has a different response to detox. Drug rehab facilities create a customized detox program handled by experienced, highly-trained medical, clinical and holistic professionals. This makes it easier to manage certain symptoms and set an excellent foundation to adapt to a program aimed at lasting recovery.
If you or a loved one have ever tried to quit drugs or alcohol by going cold turkey, you probably know the effort is sometimes futile. The best way to get over drug or alcohol addiction is to get professional help from a drug rehab center.
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