What Happens to Your Body When You Stop Drinking Cold Turkey

stop drinking cold turkey

Around 55.3% of people 18+ years or older report drinking alcohol within the last month. Learning about what could happen when you stop drinking cold turkey will convince you to seek professional help for alcohol withdrawal.

The majority of people ages 18 and up have drunk alcohol at least once within the last year.

It takes a lot of strength to be honest about one’s drinking problem. Now, it’s time to be honest about the negative effects of going cold turkey with alcohol.

Here’s what happens to your body when you stop drinking:

Alcohol Withdrawal Is a Spectrum

The severity of someone’s alcohol withdrawal symptoms depends on their level of alcohol dependence. The larger the frequency and longer the duration of time someone has been drinking for, the more severe their symptoms will be.

For anyone with a minor drinking problem, the best way to stop drinking is to follow the easy steps described in the aforementioned link. Anyone with even an inkling of suspicion that their alcohol dependence is significant should keep reading:


What happens when you stop drinking? You get dehydrated. Dehydration alone is one of the biggest risks of alcohol withdrawal.

Dehydration causes nausea, diarrhea, electrolyte imbalance (which causes cardiac issues), loss of control over central nervous and bodily functions, and mental confusion. It also increases your risk of experiencing other complications, making it especially dangerous.

Physical Effects

When people stop drinking alcohol cold turkey, they often feel headaches, dizziness, fatigue, and vomiting. It also means more muscle weakness, rapid heart rate, sweating, and grand mal seizure risk as well.

Alcohol withdrawal (as well as alcohol itself) leads to deficiencies in important minerals such as thiamine/Vitamin B1. In detox centers, patients take medicine and dietary supplements to manage their symptoms.

Mental Health Effects

Quitting alcohol cold turkey causes varying degrees of mental confusion. Heightened restlessness, irritability, and aggression make social interaction nearly impossible.

Anxiety and paranoia increase when you stop drinking. It also causes depression that results in suicidal ideation. That’s why it’s so important to receive mental health treatment and medication while you’re experiencing withdrawal symptoms.

Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome and Delirium Tremens

People with severe cases of alcoholism are at risk of developing Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome (AWS). Symptoms include high blood pressure, headache, shaking, increased heart rate, cardiac issues, and anxiety.

Severe cases of AWS can also develop into Delirium Tremens (DT) or occur on its own. Symptoms of DT are hallucinations, delusions, seizures, and mental confusion. Sensitivity to light, nausea, and metabolic issues are also prevalent DT symptoms.

AWS and DT both require professional medical supervision. Cold turkey just doesn’t cut it.

It’s Not Worth It to Stop Drinking Cold Turkey

Most people cease having alcohol withdrawal symptoms around 4 to 5 days after their last drink. It seems like a short time, but it’s still bad to stop drinking cold turkey.

People with moderate to severe alcoholism need medical detox. It’s the only way to safely manage serious alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Otherwise, you’re taking a huge risk.

Upgrade your life—read more of our lifestyle articles. You’ll discover worlds of helpful information there.


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