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.

Day Treatment Program in MA

Our day treatment program in Massachusetts, also referred to as an intensive outpatient program (IOP), is the highest level of health care offered at NorthStar Recovery Center. This outpatient addiction treatment option encompasses comprehensive clinical health care and behavioral health therapy services. In the initial stages of addiction recovery, it's crucial to have robust support to navigate both the physical and emotional challenges that come with pursuing long-term sobriety.

Our dedicated team at NorthStar Recovery Center, located in Southborough, MA, and West Springfield, MA, is committed to assisting you in establishing a solid foundation for a lifelong recovery from addiction to drugs and alcohol. Clients typically visit our outpatient addiction treatment center in Massachusetts each weekday for several hours, engaging in counseling sessions and other necessary interventions. This intensive outpatient therapy approach ensures a balanced and effective recovery process, tailored to individual needs within the framework of day treatment.


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 services. In group sessions, you’ll gain perspective on your struggles with substance use disorder and can connect with others who understand your experiences.

Family counseling can help your loved ones understand the disease of addiction, navigate conflict, develop better coping tools, and build healthier relationships. In individual counseling sessions, you’ll be able to work through personal issues like past trauma with the help of experienced therapists at our alcohol and drug treatment centers. Improve your quality of life and pursue lifelong sobriety now.

Learn More About Addiction Counseling in Massachusetts

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