What are the Dangers of Quitting Drugs Cold Turkey?
Quitting cold turkey is often more difficult than it really sounds. This is especially true when an individual who is trying to quit drugs does not want to go into a rehabilitation center. It is understandable why drug rehabilitation may seem unappealing.
As Americans, people are taught to be very independent. They feel that they can do everything by themselves all the time. 28.6 percent of all people believe that they can handle a drug problem without the need for treatment.
However, this logic that is learned culturally can be very harmful when it is applied to quitting drugs. The main reason is that there are a number of dangers people could experience when they quit drugs cold turkey.
The Dangers of Relapse
Relapse is a very serious danger for drug addicts who have recently decided to quit cold turkey. This is particularly true in the case of people who are addicted to heroin and crack. According to research conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service, over 90 percent of heroin users experience relapse.
At the same time, there is an 84 percent relapse rate for crack abusers. The agency estimates that the total relapse rate is about 69 percent for all narcotics taken together including legal pills that are often abused.
Without the help of a drug rehabilitation center to support and motivate them, drug-dependent people tend to go back to their old ways. The main reason is that they often think that they can effectively avoid everything and everyone who has a bad influence on their behavior when many individuals decided to quit cold turkey.
Unfortunately, this type of avoidance is unrealistic. What is worse is that these people frequently have difficulties reconciling their daily routine with the new lack of drugs. Relapsing is particularly dangerous because the overdose risk is much higher for people who have recently withdrawn.
The National Institute of Health even says that the risk of an overdose increases during these situations. This is because an addicted person develops a low tolerance for drugs after they have not used them for a while. The individual may try hard to do as much of the illegal substance as they did in the past not knowing that their body cannot handle that amount anymore.
The Dangers of Withdrawal
The biggest danger that is associated with quitting drugs cold turkey is withdrawal. Withdrawal symptoms can be very severe for an individual who uses opioids such as heroin and other kinds of pain medications. Although it is admirable for them to try quitting their addiction, doing it cold turkey can often be life-threatening.
Drug withdrawal can be highly dangerous for an illegal substance user who is trying to quit their addiction on a cold turkey basis. Early signs of withdrawal often include sweating, muscle aches, agitation, and anxiety. However, these withdrawal symptoms that many people consider mild may lead to vomiting and diarrhea. Complications that may arise from these symptoms include breathing stomach contents into the lungs and severe dehydration.
A Way to Avoid the Dangers
In order to avoid the dangers that are associated with quitting cold turkey, people should enroll themselves in an inpatient rehabilitation program to ensure their safe passage into sobriety. This also allows them to recover from their addiction in an environment that is far from any possible relapse temptations.
When an individual has completed rehabilitation, these facilities also provide them with various aftercare programs. This will help ensure that the client makes the transition from the rehabilitation center to their home environment successfully.
Work as a Therapy
Inpatient drug treatment offers clients several benefits. One of these advantages is that it operates on a therapeutic community model of rehabilitation. Under this model, the entire community is as much of a participant in the recovery and treatment as the medical professionals.
The community of addicts share, work, and live together while learning sobriety and recovery within a structured community. Work as a form of therapy is mandatory. Through their participation in the community’s structure, a resident learns to work and deal with others. It also teaches them discipline towards recovery.
It also confers the life skills that they need in order to obtain a much better reintegration into their home environment once they are released. A lot of long-term drug addicts often suffer from distrust and an inability to function under authority. Another benefit of inpatient rehabilitation is that this very long period of work training helps addicts resocialize in order to be employable and productive members of society.
A Time of Healing
One of the main benefits of an inpatient drug rehabilitation program is simply the time period of enforced sobriety. Time is often enough for people to really grow accustomed to being sober. It also allows them to enjoy the real and honest relationships of a life that is completely free from chemical abuse.
It is also time enough for them to reap the benefits from the therapy offered and learn how to work with others. The time that is set aside for healing also helps them to gain readiness for much better participation in society once they return.
Aside from that, inpatient rehabilitation philosophies generally state that the thorough resocialization of an addict is the only way to obtain lasting and real change. As such, all areas of their life need to be reassessed and replaced with new sets of skills in every aspect of everyday life. This often does not happen quickly. It is only through many months of hard work and therapy participation that an addict can truly change whatever exists in themselves that causes their devastating drug abuse.
The Bottom Line
An inpatient rehabilitation program is rarely the primary therapeutic environment that many drug addicts consider for their recovery. In addition, only a number of therapies can match the time commitment and disruption required. However, the best way for an individual who has a long-lasting and severe drug addiction to obtain enduring recovery is through a program that provides them with a long period of sobriety. In addition, they get a resocialization of expectations and learn that honest and real emotional relationships offer greater rewards than the usual high.