When someone wants to get rid of a bad habit, such as smoking, alcohol or drugs, they say that they’ll stop for good. This often means going cold turkey.

This approach, however, doesn’t resolve the root cause of the problem. As a matter of fact, going cold turkey can make matters worse, causing several withdrawal symptoms that push people to return to the substances that they are trying to escape from.

The right approach should be to check in to a substance rehab facility or get in touch with a professional who can help people quit safely.

Even though in some cases it might work, depending on the individual and their will, in most cases it can backfire just like people who claim to stop eating sugar over night and then they get back to eating even more.

Simply declaring “I quit” and ceasing taking the substance completely isn’t just ineffective, it’s dangerous. Here’s what will happen to your body and mind when you go cold turkey.


1. Seizures.

This goes mainly for substances. When someone is dependent on a substance, their body becomes used to getting it on a regular basis.

The body eventually becomes reliant on the substance. When you make the erroneous decision to quit cold turkey, this can be a major shock to the system.

This shock can unfortunately cause seizures in some substance dependent users. Seizures are a common withdrawal symptom, especially for individuals who have gone cold turkey from alcohol.

They can happen as soon as a few hours after taking the substance. The seizures, however, can sometimes take a few days to set in.

This particular symptom can be scary, as it can pose huge health risks. This is why the supervision of a qualified medical specialist is important.

2. Impaired Cognitive Abilities.

Substance dependence can significantly impact the brain by altering the way it works using hormones and neurotransmitters.

The addictive substance primarily changes the reward system in the brain. It creates a euphoric feeling when abusing certain substances.

When you get rid of this substance, this may result in reduced cognitive function. Experiencing reasoning, difficulties with learning, lack of concentration and memory loss are also common.

These may be fleeting for some patients. They can, however, be permanent in serious cases.

3. Mental Health Problems.

Going cold turkey is tough in any case. The situation becomes even more complicated when you kick the habit right away while you have underlying and untreated mental health issues.

Mental health problems, “detoxes,” and addictions can feed into one another, with the effects going both ways.

Those who are dependent on drugs and alcohol are more likely to experience mood disorders, such as anxiety and depression. At the same time, going cold turkey can cause these mental health conditions in individuals who have no prior history with them.

Some individuals find that the mental effects of quitting immediately cause them to lose all motivation and enthusiasm, even for things and activities that they used to enjoy.

What’s worse, some patients can even experience suicidal thoughts. This is why proper medical support is incredibly crucial in these situations.

There’s no use in attempting to diagnose and treat these problems on your own, or with the help of health websites.

Instead, seek the assistance of a medical professional who can provide you with appropriate individual assessments and treatment plan options.

4. Physical Pain.

Quitting substance abuse, alcohol or even smoking habits isn’t just mentally taxing.

This action can also create physical pain. Some individuals who go cold turkey report experiencing a whole range of symptoms, such as severe headaches, muscle cramps throughout the body and discomfort.

This pain can sometimes be unbearable for the individual, which prompts them to fall back into substance abuse to obtain relief.

5. Diarrhea and Vomiting.

When you’re on a cold turkey withdrawal period, you have a high chance of experiencing diarrhea, vomiting and nausea, depending on what you are withdrawing from.

These symptoms, when combined with profuse sweating, mean that you’ll likely experience dehydration.

During withdrawal, you need to monitor your food and water intake to keep your health in check.

You may need to consult a professional if you are unable to do this on your own. An intravenous drip, or IV drip, in some cases, is necessary to maintain proper levels of hydration.

6. Insomnia.

When you are quitting addictive substances, such as alcohol and opioids, you’re likely to experience sleeping issues during the withdrawal period.

Returning to a normal sleeping pattern could take several months.

During this period, the lack of sleep can make the entire process of going cold turkey more difficult.

You can expect extreme fatigue to negatively affect your quality of life.

Insomnia won’t be a problem if you quit the proper way, such as checking into a rehab facility. Medical professionals usually provide appropriate medication to help patients obtain more restful sleep and improved quality of life.

Simply telling your friends and family that you’re quitting and going cold turkey is never a good idea. If you want to properly address the root of the problem, seek professional treatment.

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