Quitting Alcohol Cold Turkey: How to Do It Safely

Admitting that you have a problem with alcohol is the first step on the long road to recovery. However, recognition, willpower, or determination alone are not enough to stop drinking. It is important to understand the symptoms of substance abuse and the potential complications that may arise when quitting alcohol cold turkey. The term 'cold turkey' is now used to refer to conditions that people might refer to as alcohol dependence, abuse, or addiction.

To the untrained eye, the telltale signs of withdrawal may seem like manageable side effects of quitting alcohol all at once. However, between 3% and 5% of people will suffer from a much more severe form of alcohol withdrawal called delirium tremens. If you are thinking about quitting drinking, Professor Peter Finn, who directs the Behavioral Alcohol Research Laboratory at Indiana University, suggests planning ahead. Alcohol is one of the easiest drugs to become addicted to and one of the most difficult to quit due to its social acceptance and wide availability.

For those who feel they drink too much but do not necessarily have an Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD), there are measures that can help them stop drinking. Creating a tapering program can help alleviate the intensity of withdrawal symptoms and cravings during alcoholic detoxification. Abstaining from alcohol is as psychologically draining as it is physically draining, so having the support of others is essential. Studies show that outpatient treatment is as effective as residential rehabilitation for most cases of alcohol use disorder. What this important correlation means is that the more times you quit drinking all at once, the greater your risk of experiencing life-threatening symptoms.

If you have difficulty controlling your alcohol use, you may have an AUD. For someone who does not have an AUD, Professor Finn said it is not dangerous to stop drinking all at once.

Sophia Streeby
Sophia Streeby

Addiction recovery expert from experience and training - I want to help others Quit drinking alcohol and find freedom from addiction daily.