You’ve reached the end of your rope and you’re ready to commit to a life change. You want to get sober, but you’re determined to do it on your own. You’ve seen other people do it without detox and rehab, so you can do it too, right?
Quitting Drugs Cold Turkey: Is It Possible?
In short, yes, quitting drugs cold turkey is possible. But the real question is, is it likely? Anything is possible, but by making the decision to quit drugs on your own, you may be setting yourself up for temporary relief from addiction instead of permanent and lasting sobriety.
It’s important to understand that addiction is a chronic, relapsing brain disease.1 It’s not a result of moral failure or a lack of willpower. It’s a debilitating disease. Trying to overcome addiction on your own is like trying to beat diabetes or heart disease without the aid of a doctor—not very likely.
Risks Associated with Quitting Drugs Cold Turkey at Home
The decision to quit drugs cold turkey comes with a host of risks and potential dangers.
- It may only be a temporary fix. First and foremost, overcoming addiction is about more than just getting sober. Drug detox is the first phase of addiction treatment. It is designed to treat the body and the physical aspects of drug withdrawal. Drug and alcohol rehab, on the other hand, is designed to address the mental aspects of addiction and the root causes of the behavior. It also provides another key aspect of addiction treatment: relapse prevention. If you get sober but never take the time to address the root causes of your addiction or learn how to prevent relapse, you may end up right back where you started much sooner than you think.
- You’re missing out on essential support. In drug detox and rehab, clients receive extraordinary amounts of medical, therapeutic, and peer support to help them overcome their addiction. With a medically assisted detox program, clients receive round-the-clock expert care from a team of nurses and doctors who are trained to recognize and treat the symptoms of drug withdrawal. A medical team at a detox center will also have the expertise to use medications that will comfortably and gradually taper you down into a state of sobriety. Following detox, clients in rehab regularly meet with licensed addiction counselors, recovery specialists, and peers with years of experience in recovery. This experience provides endless opportunities to discuss personal issues, receive valuable advice and wisdom, work through trauma, and learn how to prevent relapse in their own lives.
- Quitting cold turkey could put you in physical danger. Drug withdrawal is often unpredictable, especially if you are addicted to multiple substances, aren’t sure what you’ve taken, or have a long history of drug and alcohol abuse. For example, opioid withdrawal is typically characterized by severe muscle and abdominal cramps, profuse diarrhea, hypertension, fever, sweating, high blood pressure, rapid heartbeat, nausea, and vomiting.2 In some severe cases, clients may experience delirium and seizures, which can be potentially life-threatening.3 Withdrawal from benzodiazepines (tranquilizers) can also be very unpredictable and may be more severe for those who have taken very high doses or are addicted to short-acting benzodiazepines.4 It would be wise to be in a medically supervised setting throughout the duration of drug withdrawal, just in case you need emergency medical attention.
- You’re less likely to get sober and stay sober. Going through withdrawal on your own at home can be very difficult and uncomfortable. Not to mention, it’s dangerous. Without the assistance of an experienced medical team at a detox center, you won’t have a team of professionals monitoring your vitals, treating uncomfortable symptoms, and ensuring your safety at all times. Having access to drugs and alcohol at home may also make it extremely difficult not to give in to cravings, especially when the withdrawal symptoms get uncomfortable.
Advantages of Medically Assisted Detox
Drug detox in a medically assisted detox center is safer, more comfortable, and generally much more effective. Although it does require a financial commitment and the ability to stay overnight at the detox center for several days, the advantages well outweigh the risks of attempting drug detox on your own at home.
At Briarwood Detox Center, clients are treated with the utmost care. Our individualized detox programs always start with a comprehensive assessment to determine the physical and psychological needs of the client. We use those results to create a personalized treatment program that will provide the client with the best opportunity for sustained sobriety. Instead of being thrown into uncomfortable symptoms drug withdrawal when quitting cold turkey at home, our medical team will use medications (as appropriate) to gradually taper each client down into a comfortable state of sobriety. As the client’s needs change throughout his or her drug detox program, our medical and therapeutic team will adjust the treatment plan as necessary.
Upon completion of the detox program, the client will receive ongoing treatment recommendations from our multidisciplinary treatment team, which may include inpatient drug rehab, outpatient drug rehab, and/or a sober living program. These recommendations are made in an effort to provide the client with the best chance to continue living a life of sobriety.
We understand why quitting drugs cold turkey may be tempting, but we can provide you with a much better option. Call Briarwood Detox Center today to learn more about our drug and alcohol detox programs for men and women.