Home Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy Here’s Why Going ‘Cold Turkey’ from Alcohol Can Be Dangerous

Here’s Why Going ‘Cold Turkey’ from Alcohol Can Be Dangerous

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Martin Preston, founder & chief executive at Delamere, said: ‘Quitting alcohol very suddenly, or cold turkey can have significant risks, as you can often experience extreme withdrawal symptoms, and in rare situations, they can be fatal.’

‘Those who struggle with alcohol dependency often find themselves unable to stop, even if the addiction starts to cause physical, mental, financial or relationship problems for them.’ 

Martin continued: ‘A cold-turkey detox may seem like a quick fix for people trying to quit drinking in secret without any additional support from family, friends or medical experts. However, the method comes with many risks that can threaten your health and your capability to achieve and maintain sobriety.’ 

Alcohol addiction has a high relapse rate, so self-detox can intensify the risks without any support. The withdrawal symptoms can be so challenging that for some, it will seem easier to return to alcohol use to make the feelings go away. That’s why it’s safer to be under the care of an expert addiction specialist or treatment facility. ‘

When you become dependent on alcohol or drugs, your brain becomes accustomed to the substance. When a person goes cold turkey, the body and brain are deprived of the effects of alcohol and require time and support to adjust to life without the substance. 

He concluded that: ‘If someone decides to quit drinking abruptly, they will experience Delirium tremens. This term describes the rapid onset of confusion, irritability, nausea, vomiting, trembling, seizures and sweating, loss of consciousness, and hallucinations, leading to cardiovascular collapse. Some of these side effects can be serious or even life-threatening.’

‘If someone has become dependent on alcohol, they will need a clinical detox in a specialist facility. Detox is only the start of the long and challenging recovery process, where individuals will learn how to manage cravings and receive support for other mental health conditions that might play a role in substance abuse. Those dependent on alcohol must consult a doctor before they decide to stop consumption.’

How can you stop drinking alcohol safely

If you have found that your alcohol consumption has increased and you would like to reduce intake, it’s important to seek tailored advice from a medical professional. The team at Delamere have provided five tips for someone who is trying to cut back on heavy drinking. 

Reduce consumption day by day 

It’s important to reduce alcohol consumption safely. It is safer to gradually detoxify from alcohol rather than quit all at once because withdrawals have the potential to be fatal. 

Try limiting yourself to drinking no more alcohol than required when weaning off. Drink enough to qualify your withdrawal symptoms and gradually reduce consumption per day. 

Increase the amount of time per drink 

Try extending the time between your next drink. To reduce the amount of alcohol you consume daily more safely and sustainably, set a specific time before starting your next drink. 

Some people find it easier to drink soft drinks or water in between. This gives you something to do while you wait for your next drink and hydrates you. 

When cutting down consumption slowly, you will find it easier to stop drinking completely when you are ready. You can gradually increase the time limit in between each drinking period. 

Keep a drinking diary 

Keep track of every time you consume an alcoholic drink. Record how often you drink each day, how much alcohol you consume and where you were when you consumed it. You can visualise and monitor how much alcohol you are consuming each day, week and month. 

Compare this to your end goal. If you’re having trouble reaching your target, seek support from a professional and try to change your habits and ways of reducing consumption. 

Keep the mind and body busy 

Try changing your social habits by taking up a new hobby or project to work on or visiting friends and family in an environment that doesn’t involve drinking. Walking, painting, physical exercise, and even going to the cinema or out for an alcohol-free meal are great alternatives to drinking.

Ask for support

Cutting down your alcohol consumption is not always easy. Seek advice from your friends, family and medical professionals. Addiction specialists can provide a tailored treatment plan to support you on your journey to sobriety. 

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