It is estimated that over 14 million men, women and youth struggle with alcoholism in the United States. This large number opens our eyes to the reality of pain and grief that many families go through every day. After all, being addicted to drinking is not only harmful to the physical body but also harmful to emotions, relationships, careers and more. The bottom line is that alcoholics caught in the grips of drinking usually end up suffering internally and externally for quite some time before they reach out for help.
Some alcoholics who realize that they have a problem with alcohol try to quit drinking cold turkey. This means that they just decide one day to stop completely and deal with the withdrawal symptoms on their own. Is this really possible to follow through?
If you are stuck in alcoholism, it is important to separate myth from reality. These are five myths you need to know about quitting drinking cold turkey:
1. Quitting cold turkey is the best way.
Actually, quitting cold turkey without some sort of support system is not the best way to quit. The truth is that you will begin going through withdrawal symptoms shortly after you quit drinking and depending on how much you’re accustomed to drinking, these symptoms can become quite severe. The best way to quit is to reach out to substance abuse professionals for help, as they will monitor you during your detox phase and also in your recovery.
2. I can stop anytime I want.
This is one sentence that many alcoholics say when others start discussing their drinking habits with them. “I can stop anytime I want! I just don’t want to,” they often declare. However, this is a myth for the majority of alcoholics because the truth is they really can’t stop anytime they want. In fact, many try to quit but fail. They vow to never drink again but find themselves back on the wagon a week or two later.
3. I don’t drink often, so quitting will be easy.
Not necessarily. Even if you just drink on the weekends, you can still be an alcoholic and it can still be difficult to break the addiction. For the alcoholic, the brain becomes accustomed to the alcohol so it craves more. Quitting cold turkey may sound easy but for the true alcoholic, withdrawal symptoms will certainly come and you will have to contend with them.
4. I’ve stopped drinking cold turkey before, so it’s no big deal.
That’s great that you’ve quit drinking cold turkey once before, but understand that alcoholism is a progressive disease—so this time you may not be as successful. Also keep in mind that your tolerance may be much higher this time so withdrawal symptoms may be even tougher when you stop cold turkey.
5. My partner or family will help me with withdrawal symptoms at home.
This is very sweet of your loved ones but understand that there are some withdrawal symptoms that are tough to deal with at home. For instance, you may become disoriented or begin to experience delirium tremors (DTs) that are beyond your family’s control. You may also run the risk of seizures if you are a heavy drinker. It is not wise to put your family in a situation where they feel responsible to get you through detox. The best thing to do instead is to reach out to substance abuse professionals at a detox and/or rehab center.
Should you be struggling with drinking, it’s time to do a major reality check. Alcoholism is cunning and powerful. It will have you thinking you are fine or that you’ve got it under control when in reality you are depending on alcohol as a coping mechanism and feeling miserable inside. Make a decision today to reach out for help. You do not have to be alone in this nor feel like you should quit cold turkey on your own. There’s a beautiful life waiting for you on the other side of addiction.