Why Quitting Cold Turkey Could Mean Life or Death

Why Quitting Cold Turkey Could Mean Life or Death

“There are a lot better ways to do withdrawal than the way I did it…Because for me, quitting cold [turkey] led to a whole host of other behaviors that were – in many ways – more debilitating than opioid addiction.”

In a personal story shared on Vice, a woman shared her story with quitting opioid addiction “cold turkey”. We’ve all heard of this phrase and why do so many people do it? There are a number of reasons, but it could be due to financial strains, fear of what treatment might be like, lack of support, the idea of avoiding certain people or places or an overall belief that a person can “get over” addiction on their own. No matter the reason, it’s incredibly dangerous – and here’s why.

Each person’s medical and substance use history is different, which means that what worked for one person may not work for another. It’s a lot like medication – and assuming that recovery is a “one-size-fits-all” could place you in grave danger. Very Well Mind emphasizes that once the body is addicted to something, a quick, sudden drop in use could shock the system – leading a person to potentially experience seizures, heart problems and more. On top of that, not having the right structure and support to move forward with recovery can make it that much more tempting to use again if the withdrawal symptoms become too painful or uncomfortable.

Withdrawal may include shakiness, nausea, headaches, hallucinations, anxiety, depression and more, and if a person tries to use again, they often believe they can pick back up with the dose they left off; Sherry Benton, a professor of psychology at the University of Florida, told Vice that when this happens, a person’s tolerance has already lowered – and the larger dose taken is enough to kill a person.

By having a healthcare team available, a person is able to be monitored and assessed so they don’t experience further damage to their brain and body. This safety support network is crucial because it ensures that a person detoxes in the safest, most painless way possible.


Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug-addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland river in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of 2 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.

Call us today at 1-800-646-9998 to take the next step towards your happiness and health.

Why is it so meaningful to give to Cumberland Heights?

Your gift to Cumberland Heights through our annual and capital initiates gives immediate support to patients and their families. To make a longer term impact a gift to the endowment fund will provide patient assistance funding for years to come.

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