India's #1 Addiction & Recovery Online Resource

Generic filters
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Browse Centers Recovery Resources

Can You Quit Drinking Cold Turkey?

April 29, 2020
all about quitting drinking cold turkey

Yes, I can do that. I have overcome many hurdles in my life.”

What’s this? That’s the ounce of positivity we can send your way when you really need help on how to stop drinking. But at the same time, remember, the roads are bumpy ahead. Read on and you will get to know what can happen to you when quitting cold turkey and what are the things you can work upon to quit. Medication, doctors, and rehab are all helpful, and determination to recover and live a new way of life is powerful. The journey ahead will be tough, but in the end, there’s light, there’s hope and there’s the love of your family and friends. 

Table of Contents

What Does Cold Turkey Mean? Is it Safe?

Do you know what cold turkey is? In a nutshell, it is simply a way of stopping any addiction in a sudden and abrupt manner. So when someone says that I am going “cold turkey” for quitting drinking, it means that person is going to attempt a quick-fix method of fixing alcohol problem or alcoholism. It’s basically leaving your addiction behind your present life. Before you know how an alcoholic can quit cold turkey, you must know the primary consequences.

Alcohol disbalances your whole system, from your nerves to your tissues to all the major and minor organs of your body. If you are a heavy drinker, you put yourself in danger of falling victim to alcohol poisoning.

If your body is dependent on alcohol, then when you stop consuming it abruptly, your body will likely react! Here are some symptoms:

  • The primary danger of quitting cold turkey is if your body experiences severe withdrawal symptoms, called delirium tremens (DTs), which includes confusion, hallucinations, convulsions, or grand mal seizures. DTs start 2 to 5 days after the last drink and are life-threatening, requiring immediate medical attention.
  • Other symptoms, like vomiting and diarrhoea, may lead to dehydration, which can require medical attention if severe.
  • Constant headache, nausea, dizziness, tremors, and fatigue can be seen in some people. Restlessness and irritability are common side effects as well. 
  • Typically, after 8 hours of the last drink, the withdrawal will start taking its course and the heart rate may become rapid. 
  • You may lose your appetite. 
  • Mood swings may be seen on regular intervals. 
  • At the next stop, you will likely face anxiety and sweating. Then, you will likely face severe depression. 

As you can see, alcohol withdrawal can be uncomfortable, and at worst lethal, which makes picking up a drink again hard to resist and emphasizes the need for proper support.

Should I Quit Alcohol Cold Turkey? 

If you have an alcohol problem and you want to quit your alcohol consumption habit, try and stick to it, but do so with appropriate care. Not everyone needs to detox in the hospital, but it’s important to not detox alone. Speak to your doctor to discuss a plan for quitting and the risks should you do so at home. Have someone, like your friends and family, to support you, monitor your symptoms, and get you medical care if needed. Their love and care can help you to overcome alcohol withdrawal. 

Your Rewards for Giving Up Alcohol 

You must know what you stand to gain when you quit drinking alcohol. Although it is hard, it is worth it. Here are some rewards people may experience in sobriety:

  • Leads to a Blissful Life: Alcohol can snatch your life at any point. Drunk driving is one of the most common types of accidents across the globe. If you stop drinking, it might leave you without a scratch and your car too. You will be able to save your life and someone else’s as well! 
  • Healthier Liver: Alcohol directly affects your liver. The main object of your liver is to flush out toxins of your body and alcohol is nothing but toxins! Regular consumption of alcohol can lead you to liver cirrhosis and that can be fatal as well. If you quit drinking, your liver may revive itself within a few months. 
  • Healthier Heart: Alcohol adds fat to your heart. It consists of triglycerides that are extremely harmful for your heart. The chance of heart failure increases if your triglyceride level is high. You may have heard that consuming a glass of red wine regularly is good for your health, but this research finding remains controversial. It may be better to stay away from alcohol, no matter how small the count is.
  • Decreased Cancer Risk: The chances of throat, mouth, oesophagal (food pipe) and breast cancer increases with regular consumption of alcohol. 
  • Healthier Eating: Regular glass of red wine has around 120 calories whereas a glass of beer has 150 calories. So when you cut down or quit alcohol, your overall weight may come down. People love munching on fries and fast foods along with a glass of alcohol. When you quit that, you won’t require looking on that side of the menu for sure. With quitting alcohol, your consumption of food will be lessened. Alcohol tends to make people feel hungry. When you quit, you can start eating normally. 
  • Time With Loved Ones: The biggest drawback of alcoholism is that it takes away your near and dear ones. If you start consuming alcohol on a daily basis, you can’t give time to your family. But in finding freedom from alcohol addiction, you will have time to start spending it with your family. Take your dog on a walk, chat with your wife over a cup of coffee, listen to your child’s giggling, grab your laptop and start a blog; you can do a lot of things. 
  • Better Sleep: Alcohol takes away your sleep. Typically, you cannot sleep peacefully and in a good posture. You may end up leaving the bed abruptly to go to the bathroom. But now you can get a sound sleep. 
  • Better Sex Life: Your sex life will change wonderfully. Alcohol may make you abusive in bed and your partner may not like it. Overconsumption of alcohol can lead to less erection or stop erection in men. It can stop the wish to have sex in women as well. So if you want a healthy sexual life, quitting alcohol is recommended. 
  • Lower Blood Pressure: Your blood pressure (BP) will likely drop. Alcohol increases your blood pressure and enhances lots of diseases in a person. But with quitting, you can get rid of this risk factor for high BP. 
  • Healthier Immune System: With alcohol reduction, your immune system will start reviving itself properly. Your body will likely regain its own strength and you can fully fight diseases again. 
  • Healthier Brain: Too much alcohol can leave long-lasting effects in the brain. The research has shown that excessive alcohol consumption can make you lose control from normal mental functioning. Your brain will stop working with the increase in the consumption of alcohol. It may sound cool, but sipping on a glass of wine can never make you smarter in real life. If you are an addict, quitting alcohol may not leave you with a fully operative brain. But your brain might revive itself up to an extent. 

How Can I Stop Drinking Cold Turkey?

So, can you stop drinking cold turkey? As mentioned above, you can stop drinking cold turkey, but it can be dangerous and life-threatening. The safest way to withdraw from alcohol is to have a medically-supervised detox, which may include medications to help with withdrawal symptoms. Talk to your doctor first. If you can detox at home, be sure to have someone monitoring you in case your symptoms become an emergency. 

Some Tips to Help You Quit Drinking Cold Turkey

  • You need to surround yourself with some people who do not consume alcohol or who are willing to support your decision to quit. Call them, share your status with them and ask for help. If they are friends, they’ll surely help. 
  • You must have someone to whom you are accountable. 
  • Make a journal of your journey. Jot down the points that make alcohol tempting and the points that are going well for helping you stay sober. Point out those times when you crave for the liquid and what the memories or triggers for the craving are. Just jot them down and show it to your sponsor, close friend, family member, or doctor. They can help support and encourage you to keep away from such things. This is not a one-man battle and you will definitely need support from others beside you all the time. 
  • Working out is one of the most essential and active ways of quitting any kind of addiction. Consider partnering with a trainer to guide you in work outs, setting goals and staying on track. When you start regularly exercising, you can eventually see the changes in your lifestyle, and of course, in your body and health.  Once you see the rewards, your desire to quit alcohol or stay sober will likely grow. 
  • Take your dog out on a walk, or just sit down solving some sudokus. Distracting yourself during alcohol cravings can help you fight the urge to drink until the craving passes. 
  • Cling to reasons you want to quit drinking and think of them when you’re craving alcohol—perhaps it’s a picture of your family and because you love them, you want to stay healthy and present in their lives. Anything that can give you strength and peace, and boost fighting ability. 
  • Take your bags, leave your house, and reach your parents home. Live with them, make coffee, chat with them, read, eat, sleep, and play. Reward yourself. Even if you start with cutting down your alcohol intake, reward yourself for progress with, for example, your favourite dish or something nice (while affordable), such as special perfume or smartwatch. 

Final Words

You are not alone, so have hope. Others have quit drinking and remained sober. Take each and every necessary step that can keep you away from alcohol and alcohol-related discussions. If you do drink, don’t despair; just start afresh and seek more help for your recovery journey. Stick to your resolution and your thoughts. Ask for help from your close buddies, family members, sisters, brothers, cousins, colleagues and perhaps from your boss. Keep the fight on and do not lose hope.