What Happens When You Quit Alcohol Cold Turkey

What Happens When You Quit Alcohol Cold Turkey

Northstar Recovery Center

PHP and IOP Addiction Treatment in Massachusetts

Did you know that about 15 million people in the US have an alcohol use disorder? Unfortunately, only about 7% of those people ever get treatment. Too many individuals suffering from substance abuse end up trying to quit alcohol cold turkey.

Quitting cold turkey may seem easy at first, but it’s best to do your research before trying anything drastic. This guide will discuss exactly what to expect when you stop drinking alcohol.

Ready to learn more? Let’s get started.

How Alcohol Dependency Affects Your Health

Recreational drinking is normalized in society. People go out for drinks or relax with a beer after a long day at work. In moderation, this isn’t a huge problem.

When the amount of drinks increases and the frequency does as well, that’s when you’re bound to run into trouble. Drinking regularly and alcohol dependence can lead to malnourishment. Individuals tend to eat fewer balanced meals and alcohol withdrawal leads to appetite loss.

Alcohol can also lead to the deficiency of vitamins, like vitamin B1. This deficiency can result in Wernicke’s encephalopathy which can lead to significant mental confusion and lack of motor coordination.

Dehydration is another side effect of both drinking too much and alcohol withdrawal. It can lead to a huge electrolyte imbalance in the body. This type of severe dehydration leads to confusion and disruption of certain functions of the central nervous symptoms.

Additionally, alcohol dependency can lead to high levels of depression and anxiety, especially during withdrawal.

What Happens When You Stop Drinking Alcohol?

Alcohol is the most regularly used addictive substance in America. When you drink large amounts of alcohol regularly, it can rewire your brain and get you used to the way that alcohol interferes with your neurotransmitters.

Alcohol is addicting because it enters the brain and creates high levels of dopamine. It also causes levels of GABA to be increased. Both dopamine and GABA are chemical messengers that let the rest of your body know how to feel.

GABA is involved in controlling stress while dopamine is responsible for pleasure sensations, memory, and learning. When GABA increases, the central nervous system is depressed. This results in a slower heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing.

The more your brain gets accustomed to alcohol, the more it relies on it to keep these levels stable. This dependency leads to GABA and dopamine being altered. When you quit drinking, it results in uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.

You should never stop drinking alcohol cold turkey unless you have professional care and supervision involved.

Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal

It doesn’t take long for symptoms and signs of alcohol withdrawal to occur. Generally, they begin within 12 to 24 hours of abstaining from alcohol. If someone is a severe or long-term alcohol user, these symptoms will show themselves sooner.

Individuals who suffer from substance use disorder tend to keep a specific blood alcohol level at all times. When that level is altered, even for a few hours, it can lead to a series of negative symptoms and reactions.

Some milder symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include:

  • Sweating
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Anxiety
  • Vomiting

These symptoms can occur within six hours of quitting cold turkey.

Although these mild symptoms are uncomfortable and have the potential to be serious, there are more severe signs to keep an eye out for.

One of the first syndromes you may experience during the early stages of alcohol detox is called sudden alcohol cessation. This occurs when the body is shocked by the deprivation of alcohol.

More severe addictions result in the worst ramifications of sudden alcohol cessation. This is when most fatalities occur.

Dangers of Alcohol Withdrawal

Not everybody who stops drinking will suffer from withdrawal symptoms but at least half will. Although mild symptoms might occur, there are a handful of dangerous withdrawal symptoms to know about.

One of them includes delirium tremens, also known as DTs. You’ll notice hallucinations, confusion, tremors, and agitation. It can also involve hyperthermia, dangerously high fevers, and cardiac arrhythmias.

Many of these symptoms can make DTs fatal if swift medical attention isn’t provided. In the case of DTs, symptoms may not appear for up to three days after you quit drinking. This makes them particularly dangerous because people will assume they’re in the clear.

What Happens When You Quit Alcohol Cold-Turkey

It is difficult suffering from substance use disorder, especially if you’re looking for treatment. For individuals looking to stop drinking alcohol, there are several ways to go about it. Although it’s tempting to quit alcohol cold-turkey, this can do more harm than good.

Your journey to recovery begins at the right alcohol recovery center. It’s the best way to safely and effectively wean off drinking. 

The best recovery center in Southborough, MA is Northstar Recovery Center. We offer a variety of substance abuse treatments and therapy to help get your life back on track. Be sure to contact us today for more information! 


Northstar Recovery Center in Southborough, MA is made up of a team of experienced, dedicated, and compassionate addiction treatment professionals. We want to see our community heal from the effects of the opioid epidemic, alcohol addiction, and other substance use disorders.

Partial Hospitalization Program in Southborough, MA

Our partial hospitalization program in Southborough, Massachusetts is the highest level of care we offer. This addiction treatment option includes clinical care and behavioral therapies. During the early days of recovery from addiction, it’s essential to have support for both the physical and emotional challenges you might face. Our team at Northstar Recovery Center in Massachusetts will help you build a strong foundation for lifelong recovery from addiction to drugs and alcohol. Typically, clients come to our addiction treatment center each weekday for several hours of counseling sessions and other interventions as needed.

Intensive Outpatient Program in Southborough, MA

An intensive outpatient program (IOP) in Southborough, MA does not require 24/7 residency at a facility, but it demands more of your time than a regular outpatient program. It is ideal for those who need a higher level of care but are okay being at home. This way the individual can still live their life while getting counseling and support that is still needed in early recovery from substance use disorder.

Individual, Group, and Family Counseling in Massachusetts

Addiction thrives in isolation, which is why group counseling sessions are a foundational part of our addiction treatment plans. In group sessions, you’ll gain perspective on your struggles with substance abuse and can connect with others who understand your experiences. Family counseling can help your loved ones understand the disease of addiction, navigate conflict, and build healthier relationships. In individual counseling sessions, you’ll be able to work through personal issues like past trauma with the help of an experienced therapist.

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