Can An Alcoholic Quit Cold Turkey? Why It’s Not Recommended

G0VD2SOSL6I’ve decided to write this article for those who have not yet committed to recovery, but who know deep down that they’re kicking the can down the road.

If you’re a heavy drinker who’s never experienced alcohol withdrawals, keep on reading for a glimpse of what could happen if you don’t get your shit together.

If you’re experiencing withdrawals – or drinking to ward them off – while you read this, I’m going to be straight with you.

It’s very unlikely that you can quit alone and in secret. I tried to do this dozens of times and failed miserably. About a year before I sought help, I could string together about two weeks of abstinence, falsely proving to myself that I really had no problem avoiding alcohol.

After these brief periods, my first drink would bring such a relief to my mysterious agitation that I’d immediately fall back down into the rabbit hole of my addiction.

By the time I chose to quit, thanks to the horrendous phenomenon known as kindling, I could not put together more than several hours of sober time without becoming a delirious, nauseous, hallucinating zombie.

Don’t wait as long as I did to get help. Your condition will only get worse with time.

It’s unlikely that any of your close family members or work associates have any clue as to what you are really going through. Addicts and alcoholics are masters of disguise – I succeeded in passing off withdrawals at work as allergies, then the flu, then as sudden bouts of debilitating anxiety.

You’re not dealing with a common hangover. Non-addicted people might think you are being melodramatic if you tell them what you’re experiencing.

If you can’t get help immediately, you’ll need a drink in the meantime – maybe a number of drinks. This is one of the paradoxes of addiction, which can be a fatal physical disease if left untreated. Don’t quit cold turkey!

Before I finally quit, I watched this old video of actor Richard Burton discussing his experience with alcohol addiction, and it really resonated with me.

Allow the knowledge that you’re not alone to inspire you to make that most important of all decisions. If you hang in there and look back on your decision a month from now, you will know that it was worth it.

A healthier, more active and more rewarding life than you can possibly imagine awaits you.

UPDATE – May 2017

If you’ve gotten this far, you’ve just read the first article I ever wrote on this website.

At the time, I really wanted to help people, but I didn’t quite know how. I just knew that quitting cold turkey was a poor idea.

Since then, I’ve read dozens of books, listened to hundreds of podcasts, and totally immersed myself in the subject of alcoholism and recovery.

I’ve become a huge fan of nutritional and holistic approaches to addiction.

Ultimately, when it comes to alcoholism, there is no one size fits all solution.

If one method doesn’t work for you, there is another one out there that will if you give it a chance.

And so an overarching theme of Fit Recovery is this: You deserve to be armed with knowledge rather than dogma.

Be sure to check out my recent articles about alternative methods for alcohol detox and recovery:


  • Chris Scott

    Chris Scott founded Fit Recovery in 2014 to help people from around the world dominate alcohol dependence and rebuild their lives from scratch. A former investment banker, he recovered from alcohol dependence using cutting-edge methods that integrate nutrition, physiology, and behavioral change. Today, Chris is an Alcohol Recovery Coach and the creator of an online course called Total Alcohol Recovery 2.0.

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April De Marco
April De Marco
5 years ago

I’m a struggling alcoholic and quitting cold turkey I’m on day 11 and I agree with your article I feel it will get worse emotionally with more time. I have not had any physical which is weird because I have in the past. I just woke up sick 11 days ago and said I’m done today. And I’m going one day at a time. I’m scared of the seizure because I had one the last time I tried this at home but that was day 2 and it was so scary. Not being able to tell someone your children name… Read more »



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