Differences Between Professional Care and Quitting Cold Turkey

There always comes a point on the path of addiction where an individual will look around and notice that their drug of choice has led their life down a dark path. Families, friends, and loved ones are suffering from the addiction along with numerous consequences that spring upon every turn. For some, hitting rock bottom means losing it all. For others, it means a bit less. Whatever the rock bottom point for an individual, it is the time when they must decide whether to seek professional help or to go at it alone. There are pros and cons to both quitting cold turkey and professional care, but it is important to notice that addiction and recovery affect each person differently.

What is Going Cold Turkey?

No one really knows where the term specifically was coined, but since the early 1900’s ‘quitting cold turkey’ has been referred to as the act of stopping using a drug or alcohol on pure whim. This means not weaning off of a drug, but completely stopping the use without any further professional aid or preparation. For some, this approach seems to work. But, for others, it can be a seriously dangerous approach to stopping an addiction.

The pros of quitting cold turkey sound great, but are typically unrealistic. Cut an addiction by simply stopping the use and addiction is no more! Without having to go to treatment, individuals who decide that quitting cold turkey is best for them will not have to deal with all that goes into a treatment program. They will be able to keep their privacy, tend to their daily responsibilities, and keep their own schedule while working on their recovery. Additionally, the obvious expense of treatment is spared for the individual that chooses to quit the cold turkey route.

Self-Help Programs for Quitting Cold Turkey

There are some useful tips for those that decide that quitting cold turkey is their best bet for beating addiction. Although these individuals do not get professional help through treatment, they can educate themselves about their recovery through various sources. Support can be attained through peers with other resources available to anyone who is trying to rid their lives of addiction. Some resources that are helpful for quitting cold turkey include:

12 step programs: NA and AA are the most common 12 step programs. These groups hold meetings for recovering individuals all around the country and provide a religious aspect to community recovery support.

Nonreligious self-help: If the spiritual and religious side of recovery isn’t for you, there are alternative group meeting organizations like SMART recovery that offer help for people trying to rid their lives of addiction.

Meditation: Practicing mindfulness is important for anyone who wants stop their addictive behaviors. Meditation techniques help those that quit cold turkey to gain peace and also develop helpful techniques to reacting to triggers that lead to relapse.

The Dangers of Quitting Cold Turkey

Before deciding that quitting cold turkey is the best plan of attack for your addiction, consider the possible risks. These dangers of quit cold turkey may include:

Detox: Firstly, without medical guidance, detoxing while dependent on certain illicit drugs or alcohol may cause a medical emergency.  Heroin, opioids, and alcohol withdrawal can be dangerous or deadly if not handled under the guidance of medical professionals. Additionally, withdrawal from certain substances can painful can be seriously aggravating. Physicians can help minimize anxiety and suffering via certain medications.

Mental Care: Along with providing medical care, treatment centers offer a list of mental health services. Studies report that half of the patients that seek professional help through addiction treatment have concurring mental health issues. These issues are identified and treated through medication and therapy during the span of treatment. Psychiatric medication and therapy are obviously not available to those who quit cold turkey.

Support: Although 12 step programs offer some support; individuals can truly benefit from a proper treatment program. Counselors, therapists, case managers, psychiatrists, and physicians all come together to the aid of individuals in treatment; versus where those that quit cold turkey may do it alone. Additionally, treatment is a great place to meet like-minded peers who can offer long-term support. Professional treatment centers also offer aftercare and alumni programs for those who graduate from treatment.

Family: For those quit cold turkey, family and close friends is not a part of recovery. Addiction is a family disease and recovery should incorporate the family to mend broken relationships.  Also, if there is not enough family support throughout the recovery process for individuals quit cold turkey, they pose a higher chance of relapsing in the early days of recovery.

Make the Right Choice for You

Although it is possible to stop using drugs or alcohol by quitting cold turkey, it is not always the best option for everyone. Consider your options carefully and remember that deciding to get professional help with addiction is not a negative thing. It is a positive and wonderful decision that will help you get back on your feet so that you can live a life of well-being without the debilitating cycle of addiction!

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