There are few if any alcoholics or drug addicts who haven’t tried at least once to quit drinking or drugging cold turkey. If you believe you are drinking or taking drugs just to be sociable or to feel more relaxed, for a while you probably believe that you can quit any time you want to. Friends or relatives may try to get you to quit. Sooner or later, you decide to try. If you attempt to quit, you may find that you can stop for a few days or a few weeks, but eventually something happens that makes you want to numb your pain again, and you turn to alcohol or drugs without thinking. Or you may find that trying to stop is far too uncomfortable, because you start to shake, sweat or feel a sense of utter panic. If you are physically addicted to alcohol or drugs, it is not only unlikely that you will be able to quit cold turkey, but it may also be dangerous to try. Some drugs, including alcohol, can cause severe withdrawal symptoms that at best can be unpleasant and at worst can be life-threatening.
#1 Talk to a Medical Professional
Addiction can be very overpowering, and you may be surprised at how difficult it is for you to simply quit cold turkey. You may try repeatedly to stop drinking or drugging, but when you do, you probably feel extremely anxious or irritable. When that happens, you know that if you reach for another drink or drug, you will feel better because the chemicals will take the edge off the discomfort. You also know on some level that that isn’t the right thing to do. The best place to start on the path to recovery is to talk to a medical professional. Your family doctor may be able to suggest a good place for you to go in order to get help with your substance use problem. You will need to go through detoxification. This could be done on an inpatient or outpatient basis depending on what substances you have been abusing and for how long. If you don’t have a regular doctor or if you feel that your family doctor isn’t a good choice for whatever reason, look for a medical professional who specializes in recovery from addiction. You need someone who is familiar with addiction and how difficult it is to give up a substance that you have been relying on to deal with life’s ups and downs.
#2 Inpatient Detox
If you have been taking drugs or abusing alcohol for weeks or months, you may need to go through detox on an inpatient basis. At a treatment facility, you will be able to receive the medical supervision you need while you go through withdrawal. Medical professionals can safely manage the physical symptoms of withdrawal. They will be there to supervise you and monitor your medical condition as the drugs leave your body. They may be able to prescribe medication that can make you more comfortable. Another benefit of going through withdrawal on an inpatient basis is the fact that you will be removed from the environment that you have been in while you have been abusing alcohol and other drugs. There won’t be alcohol in the refrigerator or people nearby who might supply you with drugs. You will be in a safe place.
#3 Outpatient Detox
In some cases, if your addiction is more psychological than physical, you may be able to go through detox on an outpatient basis. Don’t try to make this choice without talking to a medical professional. If you are able to detox without being admitted to a treatment facility, your doctor may prescribe medication to ease your discomfort at first. You will need to build a support system and find a way to replace the habit of turning to drugs to make you feel better. Whether you detox from alcohol or drugs on an inpatient or an outpatient basis, once you get through the initial period of withdrawal, it’s important to get involved in some kind of support group such as Alcoholics Anonymous or counseling. There is more to addiction than just drinking too much or using other mind-altering substances, and there is more to recovery from addiction than just going through detoxification. You have to be able to recognize why and how you became dependent on alcohol and drugs in the first place, and learn to avoid the triggers that might cause you to pick up substances in the future. When cold turkey detox fails, don’t give up. Ask for help from a medical professional, or go to some meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous. Many people have been able to successfully learn to live without alcohol or drugs, and you can too.