Dangers of Detoxing Cold Turkey

What Is Detoxing “Cold Turkey”?

Detoxing cold turkey is a phrase that essentially means you’re self-detoxing. Self-detoxing is normally a process in which you simply stop taking your medications, stop drinking, or stop taking drugs without any help with withdrawal symptoms and without a detoxification program in place.

Why Is Detoxing Cold Turkey Dangerous?

Detoxing cold turkey is dangerous for a few reasons including:

  1. The potential for life-threatening side effects
  2. The potential for relapse
  3. The risk of overdose

The first and most important reason to get help with withdrawal symptoms and detoxification is the risk of life-threatening side effects. Not all drug or alcohol cessation situations will be life-threatening, but it’s hard to tell what kind of situation you’ll be in until you’re in it. With help from a professional, you can have your symptoms monitored and treated as they arise, making the withdrawal process easier to manage.

The next reason to seek help during detox is the risk of relapsing. For instance, if you stop taking an opiate drug, you may make it four or five days without before the symptoms become overbearing and too bothersome to ignore any longer. In a detoxification program, those symptoms could be mitigated to help you through the remaining time of detox. However, if you’re at home or alone, you don’t have the help and are more likely to go back to the drug you were taking to relieve those symptoms.

When you do that, you have a high risk of overdose. Trying to get rid of withdrawal symptoms quickly may mean you take a higher dose of drugs or drink more than you normally would, and that means you’re at a higher risk of overdosing and landing in the hospital or worse. Because of these risks, it’s important to always work with a medical professional when you want to detox; it’s safer for you mentally and physically, and you are in the hands of those who can help if there are complications that you need to overcome.

Can Detoxing Cold Turkey Be Life Threatening?

Depending on the kind of substance you use, detoxing cold turkey can be very dangerous and even life-threatening. For example, sudden alcohol cessation can cause these symptoms:

  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Delirium tremens
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Agitation
  • Shaking
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches

sick woman laying in bed

Of course, there are many other symptoms as well. These symptoms, for alcohol cessation, normally arise within 12 to 24 hours after the last drink you’ve had. At that point, you may suffer some visual, tactile, or auditory hallucinations. They tend to end within 48 hours. Don’t confuse these sensations with delirium tremens, though, since DT is a life-threatening condition.

In a typical withdrawal situation, seizures are possible. They tend to strike within 24 to 48 hours after your last drink. They can begin as soon as two hours after your last drink. If you’ve detoxed in the past, you’re more likely to suffer a seizure if you stop drinking suddenly.

If you suffer these symptoms, you may be suffering from delirium tremens and need medical help immediately:

  • Profuse sweating
  • Disorientation
  • Severe anxiety
  • Hallucinations that can’t be distinguished from reality
  • Seizures
  • High blood pressure
  • Irregular heartbeats
  • Low-grade fevers
  • Severe tremors

The symptoms of DT tend to peak within five days of cessation. These symptoms need to be monitored in a medical facility because they can lead to death.

What Happens If I’m In Alcohol or Drug Withdrawal from Detoxing Cold Turkey?

Depending on the kind of substance you use, your medical doctor will prescribe medications and therapies to help you through withdrawal in a safe manner.

For example, if you’ve detoxed from alcohol cold turkey, then your doctor may prescribe these drugs to get you back on track and to treat withdrawal:

  • Clonidine, which helps manage blood pressure
  • Phenytoin, which is an anticonvulsant
  • A beta-blocker, which can help relieve a fast heart rate and reduce high blood pressure related to withdrawal
  • Antipsychotics to reduce or relieve agitation and hallucinations
  • Benzodiazepines, which can be used to sedate a patient in some cases and will treat shakiness and anxiety

How Can I Get More Help With Substance Abuse and Withdrawal Symptoms?

Alcohol and drug abuse can be difficult to deal with, but stopping cold turkey is a recipe for withdrawal. Instead of struggling through a painful withdrawal process, you can work with a medical team to overcome those side effects in a controlled environment. To learn more about the programs that can help you, call us today by dialing 1-877-978-3125 to speak with someone about substance abuse and detoxification. If you’re online, visit us online at www.CoastalDetox.com to read more about the programs available today. We can help you learn more about the programs in your area and find one that suits your needs as an individual.

Real Client Testimonials

  • Before coming to coastal I was hopeless, helpless, and my family wanted nothing to do with me. It wasn’t the first detox I’d ever been to, but it was the only one who showed me so much love and compassion. They gave me hope. It’s hard to put into words the amount of gratitude I have for this facility. The employees were my family when I had none. The staff went out of their way to make sure not only were my physical needs taken care of, but my emotional needs as well. From the first phone call prior to admission, to helping me set up continuing care, they never missed a beat. Even going as far as to help me with my legal issues via Zoom court. This isn’t just a detox, they are the family I never had. All of the techs, especially Karen, are phenomenal. They will take the time to listen to you, laugh, and cry(if needed) with you. If you are reading this and you or your loved one is suffering like I was, go to Coastal Detox. The level of care is more than I could ever put into a review. It wasn’t the first detox I’d been to, but it has been my last; I owe them everything I have today, including my life.

    Travis B. Avatar
    Travis B.
    12/07/2020
  • Had a really good experience at Coastal. The staff really went above and beyond in helping me get in and gave me the respect l, space and care I needed after I first got there. As I started to fell better they encouraged me to take part in groups which helped get me out of my head and bring positivity and health to my thinking. They had a great massage therapist, who came daily and it was evident the nursing staff genuinely cared. Got to know some of the staff as well and I’m grateful for the cooks Joe and Chris. Those guys literally made us sirloins and pork chops for dinner. Also I gotta thank Chris and Chris for helping me get in and setting me up with a transition plan. Real grateful for that help, I’m not sure if it’s management intention to hire guys named Chris but they got a good thing going there. Overall, I’m clean and sober today and walking it out. Coastal gave me a base that set me up for the success that I’m walking in today

    Brandon B. Avatar
    Brandon B.
    1/16/2020
  • My family is very thankful for Coastal Detox. They have went above and beyond for my son a few times. Unfortunately he has needed their help more than once and they have ever turned their back on him, even when he was at his worst. Jeannie and Chris have been amazing and kept me informed through the entire process. They truly care about the addict and want to help them especially when it would be easy to give up on them. I had many detox facilities be rude and uncaring to me when I was searching for help for my son, but Coastal never did that to us. I don't know the names of all the team members that have helped my son but I know their are many and y'all are angels!! One day we will be able to pay it forward and help someone as you have helped us. Thank you for all you do!!

    Brenda A. Avatar
    Brenda A.
    1/01/2020
  • Can not say enough nice things about Coastal Detox & staff. Family member was there, told me five stars for the facility & all whom she interacted with. Said the facilities, ambience..., cleanliness, grounds, food, (think their chef is five stars), were all top shelf. All I interacted with personally & on the phone were patient, professional, responsive & caring. Kudos to so many: Jeannie Jones, Clinical Director whom I spent the most face to face time with: great oversight, patience & follow thru. Raquel Barker, Therapist was so understanding & on spot with her assessments/care. Kris Garrigus Admissions Director, another Coastal professional whom I cannot say enough nice things about, always so patient & responsive to my probably too frequent inquires. Not to be forgotten is Judy Tucker, Director of Operations she too so patiently "put up with me"
    I highly recommend Coastal Detox

    Susan C. Avatar
    Susan C.
    11/13/2019
  • Can not say enough nice things about Coastal Detox & staff. Family member was there, told me five stars for the facility & all whom she interacted with. Said the facilities, ambience..., cleanliness, grounds, food, (think their chef is five stars), were all top shelf. All I interacted with personally & on the phone were patient, professional, responsive & caring. Kudos to so many: Jeannie Jones, Clinical Director whom I spent the most face to face time with: great oversight, patience & follow thru. Raquel Barker, Therapist was so understanding & on spot with her assessments/care. Kris Garrigus Admissions Director, another Coastal professional whom I cannot say enough nice things about, always so patient & responsive to my probably too frequent inquires. Not to be forgotten is Judy Tucker, Director of Operations she too so patiently "put up with me"
    I highly recommend Coastal Detox

    Susan C. Avatar
    Susan C.
    11/06/2019

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