Archive for March, 2019

March 28, 2019

Cold Turkey

Delirium tremens

Cold turkey refers to the abrupt cessation of a substance dependence and the resulting unpleasant experience, as opposed to gradually easing the process through reduction over time or by using replacement medication. The term comes from the piloerection or ‘goose bumps’ that occurs with abrupt withdrawal from opioids, which resembles the skin of a plucked, refrigerated turkey.

Sudden withdrawal from drugs such as alcohol, benzodiazepines, and barbiturates can be extremely dangerous, leading to potentially fatal seizures. For long-term alcoholics, going cold turkey can cause life-threatening delirium tremens, rendering this an inappropriate method for breaking an alcohol addiction.

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