Is Quitting Alcohol Cold-Turkey a Bad Idea? What happens when you detox from alcohol \u201ccold turkey\u201d? Read about alcohol withdrawal symptoms and the safest way to detox from alcohol. If you\u2019re a heavy drinker, your brain and central nervous system now depend on alcohol. They require it in order to function normally. You\u2019ve likely found this to be true when you wake up in the morning and feel you need a drink to get your day started. Quitting alcohol cold-turkey is a form of detoxing done without the supervision of medical detox professionals at an alcohol addiction treatment center. Many people believe they can detox safely at home, but your body ridding itself of alcohol can be a dangerous process. While your body learns to function without alcohol, you suffer the effects of sudden deprivation of what your body used to depend on. Why Is Quitting Alcohol Cold-Turkey Dangerous? When you go from drinking frequently and\/or in large amounts to not drinking at all, you\u2019ll experience withdrawal. Withdrawal symptoms range from mild and uncomfortable to deadly. When regular and heavy drinkers stop drinking, the body compensates for the depressive effect of alcohol. This is done by increasing hormones and brain chemicals such as serotonin, epinephrine, and dopamine. If you stop drinking alcohol cold-turkey, your body floods with high levels of these chemicals in an effort to re-establish balance and normal functioning\u00a0without alcohol. The severity of alcohol withdrawal symptoms depends on factors such as: \tHow long you\u2019ve been abusing alcohol \tHow much alcohol you\u2019ve been abusing \tYour physical and mental health \tCo-occurring physical and mental conditions Approximately 50% of people who are addicted to alcohol have severe withdrawal symptoms\u00a0when they stop drinking. These symptoms generally set in six hours after your last drink. They can only be effectively eased with medical assistance. What Is Alcohol Withdrawal Like? Besides insomnia, headaches, diarrhea, and irritability, common symptoms of alcohol detox and alcohol withdrawal include: Seizures An alcohol withdrawal seizure is often the first sign of alcohol withdrawal. It usually involves convulsions and involuntary muscle contractions. Withdrawal seizures can occur within six to 48 hours of your last drink. Without medical treatment, multiple seizures occur in 60% of people. The time between the first and last seizure is usually less than six hours. Delirium Tremens (DTs) About 30% to 40% of people who experience seizures get delirium tremens, also known as DTs. Considered a medical emergency, DTs typically occur 24 to 48 hours after the last drink. They\u2019re characterized by: \tConfusion \tDelirium \tHigh blood pressure \tShakiness Without medical assistance, delirium tremens can put you at risk for: \tHead injuries \tLethal dehydration \tHeart attack or stroke \tChoking on vomit In many cases, DTs cause death. Abnormal Heart Rhythms As part of delirium tremens, your heart beats erratically. Unusual shifts in breathing, temperature, and circulation can contribute to a racing heart. You may also experience blood circulation issues such as high blood pressure. Nausea and Vomiting These symptoms may linger for a week after quitting alcohol cold-turkey. They occur as your brain tries to rebalance chemicals without alcohol, which it\u2019s become dependent upon. Dehydration Alcohol is a diuretic that increases your urine output and can increase sweating. You may already be dehydrated going into alcohol withdrawal. You may get even more dehydrated due to vomiting and diarrhea, which can lead to dangerous electrolyte imbalances. This can throw off your\u00a0central nervous system, causing: \tDTs \tSeizures \tMental confusion \tAnxiety \tSuicidal thoughts Helpful Articles \t3 Things to Try When Cold Turkey Detox Fails \tCan You Die From Delirium Tremens? \tMyths of the DIY Alcohol Detox \tWhat If You Never Get Sober? How Much Alcohol Causes Withdrawal? The amount of alcohol it takes to cause withdrawal symptoms varies from person to person. Even brief binge drinking or heavy drinking can cause withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, dehydration, nausea, and gastrointestinal issues the next day. Heavy drinkers and binge drinkers are most at risk for alcohol withdrawal symptoms. The National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse (NIAAA) reports drinking levels\u00a0as: \tModerate drinking \u2013 No more than one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men. \tBinge drinking \u2013 Five or more drinks for men and four or more drinks for women on one occasion. \tHeavy drinking \u2013 Five or more days of binge-drinking episodes in one month. \tLow-risk drinking \u2013 No more than three drinks in one day and no more than seven in one week for women. And no more than four drinks in a single day and no more than 14 drinks in one week for men. Alcohol Use Disorder Levels If you have an alcohol use disorder (AUD), you\u2019re at an even greater risk of experiencing alcohol withdrawal while quitting alcohol cold-turkey. You may have an AUD if you meet two or more of the following criteria: \tDrinking alcohol in larger amounts or for longer time periods than intended \tRepeated failed attempts to quit alcohol or cut down on alcohol abuse \tSpending large amounts of time obtaining alcohol, using it, and recovering from it \tCraving alcohol and experiencing strong urges to drink \tFailing to fulfill school, work, and personal obligations because of alcohol abuse \tContinuing to abuse alcohol despite negative effects on your relationships and social interactions \tDecreased involvement in occupational, recreational, and social activities \tUsing alcohol in physically dangerous situations \tContinuing to abuse alcohol despite knowing it has caused a physical or psychological condition \tNeeding more and more alcohol to feel buzzed or drunk \tExperiencing\u00a0withdrawal symptoms in the absence of alcohol\u00a0or using alcohol or other substances to help ease withdrawal symptoms Approximately 50% of people with alcohol dependence experience withdrawal symptoms. Severe alcohol withdrawal is often refractory to standard doses of medication and requires aggressive treatment. What Is the Difference Between Withdrawal and Detox? The safest way to detox from alcohol is in a\u00a0medical detox setting\u00a0with trained physicians, nurses, and other detox specialists. Here\u2019s what alcohol detox is like in an addiction treatment center: \tMedical staff eases painful alcohol withdrawal symptoms with safe and effective research-backed medications.\u00a0Benzodiazepines are a class of\u00a0drug commonly used for alcohol withdrawal\u00a0symptoms. They can also reduce the risk of seizures and DTs. \tYou\u2019re monitored around the clock to make sure you\u2019re safe and as comfortable as possible. Your treatment team swiftly attends to any alcohol withdrawal symptoms that make you uncomfortable. \t24\/7 medical detox staff immediately intervenes if you experience any life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. \tMedical staff may help you begin repairing the physical damage of alcohol abuse. B12 and\u00a0thiamine deficiencies are common\u00a0in people who abuse alcohol. Treatments may include nutritious, well-balanced meals and vitamin supplements. Addiction treatment should always follow alcohol detox. Treatment helps you understand the biological, emotional, and social reasons you drank. You\u2019ll learn what triggers you to drink and develop healthy coping skills. You\u2019ll also benefit from the support of addiction professionals and sober peers. Why Is Alcohol Detox Important? Regular alcohol abuse causes chemical changes that alter the way your brain functions and lead to very uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms and powerful alcohol cravings. These cravings can feel impossible to resist when you don\u2019t have the proper medications and support to ease them. That\u2019s why it\u2019s extremely challenging to simply quit drinking alcohol cold-turkey and not relapse. Additionally, quitting alcohol cold-turkey can prove deadly. Handling alcohol withdrawal symptoms on your own isn\u2019t safe. Even if you think friends or family can help, only trained professionals have the skills to safely assist you through the detox process. Self-detox can be fatal. Rely on medical staff and detox specialists who work for drug and alcohol detox center programs to safely and comfortably get you past this difficult first hurdle on the path to recovery. For more information on alcohol detox or to start the detox process, call Promises Treatment Centers at today.