Josh Chandler | December 20, 2023

Quitting Substances Cold Turkey: What You Need to Know

Quitting substances cold turkey is a course of action that many people who are dependent or addicted to drugs or alcohol attempt. However, it’s important to recognize that quitting cold turkey is not without its health risks. Of course, it’s ultimately beneficial to stop abusing drugs and alcohol, but quitting these substances cold turkey can trigger health emergencies. Cold turkey withdrawal symptoms can be severe. Before quitting substances cold turkey, consider the following information outlined here. 

Also, if you’re addicted to any type of substance, remember that Muse Treatment can help. We’re a leading addiction treatment center that offers a wide range of treatment approaches, including evidence-based therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy, holistic therapies, and alternative treatments. Our treatment programs are individualized. That means that we tailor our treatment plans to suit each person’s needs. 

Muse offers inpatient treatment, outpatient treatment, medical detox, dual diagnosis treatment, and more. We routinely help clients end their dependence on drugs or alcohol. By quitting cold turkey in a rehab center, you can get the support you need to detox safely. We offer treatments and medications to eliminate or reduce withdrawal symptoms. Don’t put off quitting drugs and alcohol. Just be sure to contact Muse Treatment for our guidance and support. 


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The Basics of Quitting Substances Cold Turkey

Quitting drugs and alcohol cold turkey is not always easy. Why? Because the cold turkey method for substance addiction is drastic and will very likely trigger an array of withdrawal symptoms that may range from mild to severe. Withdrawal symptoms might begin as mild. You might experience chills or a mild headache. However, these symptoms can quickly progress and become severe. You might experience nausea, vomiting, and dehydration. Some people experience serious symptoms that require immediate medical attention. For instance, withdrawal symptoms can trigger heart irregularities or even seizures. 

Many people who are addicted to alcohol or drugs experience powerful cravings when attempting to stop using cold turkey. The cravings can be so intense that the individual winds up using again. This can be disheartening and thwart the individual’s innate desire to stop using altogether. On the other hand, the severity of the addiction may also play a role. Some people may be able to quit cold turkey without experiencing serious withdrawal symptoms. However, most people don’t know how their withdrawal process will go until they stop using drugs or alcohol. 

Understanding Cold Turkey Withdrawal Symptoms

Quitting an addictive substance cold turkey can trigger an onslaught of withdrawal symptoms that may include:

  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Chills
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Tremors
  • Increased sweating
  • Fatigue
  • Confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures

The substance in question may impact the type of withdrawal symptoms that occur. For instance, opioid withdrawal is often flu-like. Individuals who are quitting heroin or prescription opioids like Fentanyl cold turkey might experience lethargy, body aches, chills, and nausea or vomiting. Someone who is quitting alcohol is likely to experience sweating, tremors, and chills. Alcohol withdrawal can also trigger a condition known as DTs (delirium tremens). These symptoms can involve fever, chills, hallucinations, and even heart irregularities. DTs require immediate medical attention to ensure they don’t trigger a more serious medical emergency. 

cold turkey withdrawal symptoms


Is Cold Turkey Quitting Effective?

Quitting drugs or alcohol cold turkey can be effective, but not always. If withdrawal proves too difficult, people may revert to abusing whatever substance they’re addicted to. Also, quitting cold turkey alone is dangerous. It’s always safest to undergo medical detox to stop using drugs or alcohol. At a medical detox center, clinicians can provide medications and other treatments to reduce the severity of the symptoms. This is important since withdrawal symptoms can trigger a serious health emergency. Nevertheless, many people do quit cold turkey and can stay off drugs and alcohol. However, most people require some means of support to maintain their recovery even after completing the detox/withdrawal process. Keep in mind that addiction is not only a physical problem. A person who becomes addicted to alcohol or drugs also experiences powerful psychological and behavioral dependencies. 

The Psychology Behind Quitting Cold Turkey

It’s important to recognize that there are some psychological ramifications associated with quitting cold turkey–especially if the endeavor is unsuccessful. Often, an addiction is simply too powerful for an individual to stop using on their own by quitting cold turkey. The truth is, it is not a failure if quitting cold turkey doesn’t work. It doesn’t work for many people. Some people need to taper off use and wean off the addictive substance slowly. Others need treatment for severe withdrawal symptoms. 

At Muse Treatment, we offer clinically supervised detox. During our detox process, we monitor clients to ensure they are detoxing as comfortably as possible. Naturally, we prioritize our client’s health and safety throughout the process. 

Comparing Cold Turkey vs Gradual Withdrawal Methods

At Muse, we individualize treatment to meet each client’s needs. Some clients respond to certain treatments more favorably than others. The same is true for the actual quitting process. For some, quitting cold turkey works. Other people may benefit from a more gradual process. 

Weaning off drugs and alcohol gradually is not without its problems too. People are still likely to experience withdrawal symptoms as their body/mind will crave the dose they’re accustomed to. However, symptoms are likely to be less severe with gradual weaning as opposed to the cold turkey method. What’s right for you? When you contact Muse Treatment, we can evaluate your condition to recommend the ideal course of treatment based on your needs. 


24/7 support availability,
start your recovery today!


Tips for Successfully Quitting Cold Turkey

Quitting cold turkey may be the best option for many people who want to stop using drugs and alcohol. If you do choose to try this method, there are some tips to consider:

  • Seek help from an addiction specialist.
  • Undergo medical detox at a licensed rehab center like Muse Treatment.
  • Do not quit cold turkey alone as withdrawal symptoms could escalate in severity and quickly become medically dangerous.
  • Have your condition evaluated before you quit cold turkey to ensure you’re in good health. 
  • Learn about the possible withdrawal symptoms you could incur by quitting cold turkey so that you can prepare yourself.

Challenges of Quitting Cold Turkey and How to Overcome Them

Quitting cold turkey is a great way to stop abusing drugs and alcohol when it works. How can you ensure that quitting cold turkey will work for you? Enroll at Muse Treatment for our medical detox program. You can stop using and obtain treatment for the withdrawal symptoms that arise. Safety is a top priority for our rehab center. We monitor clients throughout the detox process. With our support, you can quit cold turkey safely. 

Muse Treatment’s Perspective on Quitting Substances Cold Turkey

Call Muse Treatment and start your recovery journey right away. Don’t let drugs or alcohol steer your life off course any longer. Quitting abruptly may not be comfortable or easy, but it can work. Quitting with the help of Muse is a terrific option because it’s safe. We will treat your withdrawal symptoms and monitor your health throughout the process. Many medications can reduce your withdrawal symptoms and support your recovery process. Call us at 800-426-1818 to learn more about our recovery plans. Navigating the complexities of insurance for addiction treatment can be overwhelming, but it’s an essential step in your journey towards recovery. It’s important to understand what your insurance plan covers to make informed decisions about your treatment options. At Resurgence, we accept a variety of insurance plans such as Beacon Insurance Coverage.


Detox,Drug Rehab,
Josh Chandler
Josh Chandler
After growing up in Chicago and North Carolina, Josh chose to get help with substance use disorder and mental health in California because of the state's reputation for top-tier treatment. There, he found the treatment he needed to achieve more than five years of recovery. He's been in the drug and alcohol addiction rehab industry for four years and now serves as the Director of Admissions for Resurgence Behavioral Health. Josh remains passionate about the field because he understands that one phone call can alter the course of a person's life.

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