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Binge drinking, according to reports from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and alcoholism, has been on the rise in recent years. As per the 2019 national survey, 1 out of 4 people ages 18 and older participated in binge drinking in the past month.  Whether seeking help for yourself or a loved one, be wary of quitting alcohol on the spot, as it may cause problems just as severe as alcoholism itself.

danger of quitting alcohol cold turkey

Why Is Quitting Alcohol Cold Turkey Risky?

On the ground, those who struggle with Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) may feel pressure from loved ones or themselves to quit immediately. This often includes the idea of quitting on the spot. And while the act is seen as admirable socially (or a sign of a strong-willed individual if performed successfully), studies show the act can cause more harm than good.

Routine excessive drinking over a prolonged period causes the body to form a heavy reliance on alcohol. Therefore, quitting cold turkey will expose the sufferer to myriad symptoms, some of which are fatal.

Some studies assert that 50 percent of those struggling with alcohol addiction will experience what’s called Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome.

Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome can fall upon an addicted individual within hours to days of quitting cold turkey and may involve the following:

  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Hallucinations
  • Anxiety and agitation
  • High blood pressure

On top of that, Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome may exacerbate other health problems, especially for those with a history of alcohol-related issues and co-morbid illnesses. Prolonged alcohol withdrawal could lead to seizures and even death.

Rehab Vs. Quitting Cold Turkey

Professional help can give lasting tools for the person with alcohol use disorder. These tools may include the ability to identify triggers, get a life skills management plan, find a community of support, and much more.

Good addiction treatment is aware that sobriety is a long journey with pitfalls, but a very rewarding one. Additionally, at a properly certified rehab center, you may have the option of medication assisted treatment for those suffering from alcohol withdrawal symptoms alongside counseling. MAT as it is called, helps curb the cravings as well as minimizes the discomfort of alcohol detox.

What To Look for in Your Treatment Options

While many are aware of AA, addiction treatment rehab, and other addiction treatment centers, the individual must be aware of the type of therapy they could receive. From there, they can make better judgments about the type of care that could be most effective for them.

The most popular are regarded as some of the most effective due to their science-backed solutions and evidence-based methods:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Dialectical behavioral therapy
  • Motivational interviewing
  • Contingency management
  • 12-step facilitation

Depending on the facility, programs may accept several types of insurance including treatment designed for veterans, family/individual/group therapy, sobriety meetings, flexible scheduling, and other amenities for addiction treatment and benefits.

And when sessions aren’t enough, they can be paired with additional services such as client contact between sessions or resources to 24-hour helplines for those particularly rough times on the road to sobriety.