Quitting Cold Turkey

Quitting Cold Turkey

I have been fortunate enough in my lifetime to not become addicted to alcohol. I say fortunate because both of my grandparents were alcoholics, and we have many other family members who’ve been affected by the disease. My grandmother was able to quit cold turkey one day—though I’m sure she thought about it every day for the rest of her life, as most alcoholics will do after quitting—and I know many other people do it as well. That said, that doesn’t make it easy, and there are things you should know if this is the route you choose.

Even if you don’t plan on going to a doctor, a rehabilitation center, or to enlist any type of medical help—and you definitely should if you can and especially if you desire to—you should at least keep a support system of friends and family in mind. Attending AA meetings can really increase that circle, as well as give you better chances of sticking to your decision to quit. Focusing on your reasons why you want to quit can also help, as well as distracting yourself with hobbies, new activities, and time with your family.

When you first quit, you’re likely to go through symptoms of withdrawal. These will vary on both symptoms and duration based on your level of dependency. No two people are exactly alike, and no two people will have the exact same symptoms. That said, here are a few you might experience. Just be mindful of these and prepare to get a loved one involved in helping you out if need be. Also keep in mind that you may have no symptoms, or many—and that they could last from days up to a few weeks, all depending on how much alcohol you’re used to consuming.

Shaking, jumpiness, tremors, nervousness, anxiety

Depression, severe tiredness or fatigue

Emotional changes, depression, agitation, crankiness, or excitability

Food cravings

Headaches, nausea, vomiting, sweating, appetite loss or gain

Nightmares

Clouded thinking, insomnia

Pale complexion, clammy skin, sweating

More severe symptoms—such as convulsions, fever, blackouts, etc.—should be treated with a doctor’s help

Remember that a doctor can often help you reduce or eliminate these symptoms. Alcoholism is a disease and should be seen as such; there is no shame in going for help. Also remember to let loved ones know so they don’t drink around you, support you, and understand if you are emotional, angry, or exhibit any of the symptoms above.