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quitting alcohol cold turkey

Quitting Alcohol Cold Turkey

Alcohol remains one of the most dangerous substances in the United States. Over 178,000 people die every year from an alcohol related cause, making it one of the five leading contributors of preventable death in the United States. With facts like these, time is of the essence when it comes to kicking the habit and ending alcohol abuse for all individuals. Simply put, it saves lives. However, as eager as some might be to end their alcohol addiction as soon as possible quitting alcohol cold turkey comes with its own precautions, dangers, and life-threatening risks.

Potential Symptoms When Quitting Alcohol Cold Turkey

Withdrawal symptoms are far from a guarantee. Every individuals experience is different. The alcohol frequency and volume an individual consumes can vary these potential symptoms, as well as an individual’s age or pre-existing conditions. With likelihoods addressed, it is clear that alcohol abuse effects the body in several ways, and as the individual becomes conditioned to high alcohol content, the quitting process can entail the following common symptoms:

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Hallucinations
  • Headache
  • Heart palpitations
  • High blood pressure
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Sweating
  • Tremors or shakes

The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal are long and arduous, but the final symptom of tremors and shakes is perhaps the most severe. If left untreated alcohol withdrawal symptoms can progress to violent seizures called delirium tremens (DTs), and may even lead to death.

In addition to the alcohol withdrawal symptoms above, dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, and malnutrition may present themselves during the detox phase, leading to further medical complications. The most severe of these potential effects would be an onset of Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome (WKS). Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome has two variants in which an individual may experience confusion, optic nerve paralysis, and muscle coordination problems, or a psychosis leading to long-term memory and learning problems.

Safest Way To Quit Alcohol Addiction

With many potential risks associated with the continuing abusive consumption of alcohol but also the many withdrawal symptoms associated with quitting alcohol cold turkey, the safest option is to seek treatment at a detox facility such as Long Island Center for Recovery (LICR). An inpatient facility such as LICR would monitor patients going through alcohol addiction treatment and detoxification, allowing clients to go through withdrawals in a safe and professional environment.

We hope this information was helpful in providing an understanding  of the potential risks associated with quitting alcohol cold turkey. If you or a loved one needs any additional assistance with addiction treatment services, please reach out to Long Island Center for Recovery at 631-728-3100, and we’d be happy to assist you or your loved ones in any way possible.


American Addiction Centers: Risks and Dangers of Quitting Alcohol Cold Turkey

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism: Alcohol-Related Emergencies and Deaths in the United States

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