How to stop drinking cold turkey? Is it possible to quit cold turkey?

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hi it's annie grace i hope everyone is

doing really well

i have a question today and that is

is stopping drinking cold turkey can it

be done

is it possible should you attempt it

should you do it

all the things so anyway my name is anna

grace author of

the alcohol experiment in this naked

mind and as a reminder you can always

join us for the free

alcohol experiment at

alcoholexperiment.com it's 30 days of


being curious dipping a toe seeing what

it's like to change your relationship

with alcohol but

we're going to talk right now about

stopping drinking cold turkey

should you do it can it be done and

everything that this entails so in my

opinion the best way to think about this

is by

thinking about the mental aspect and

then considering the physical aspect and

these are two

very different pieces of the same puzzle

and often

we consider only the mental or only the

physical actually usually we're just

considering only the physical especially

when you're thinking about something

like stopping cold turkey

so we imagine that the danger in

stopping drinking specifically stopping

drinking cold turkey

is in the physical withdrawal symptoms

and this is a true thing there are

physical withdrawal symptoms in fact

every single time you drink a drink of


you are actually creating withdrawal

response in your body

your body as it purges the alcohol has a

very natural craving for more alcohol

and that is thanks to the ner the

chemical dopamine

and dopamine is telling your body and

your brain hey that thing you just did

do that thing again and alcohol like

every other addictive substance on the

planet increases

the levels of dopamine in your brain at

artificially high levels artificial


you wouldn't naturally get there you

know you wouldn't be able to get there

without ingesting a substance

and so by increasing this dopamine

dopamine is called the learning molecule


and it basically tells the brain hey

that thing you did

do that thing again and do that thing

for survival so when alcohol is leaving

the body and this is a very simplified


you do have this craving and desire for

more of it

and that includes dopamine and there's a

lot of other neurochemical responses

that are happening but the bottom line

is that

you are having a slight withdrawal from

alcohol every single time you drink

another way you can think about this is

when you are drinking

you feel pretty good things are going

well but then when you stop drinking and

especially when you're hungover the next


you start to feel pretty bad and if

you've heard of like hair of the dog

that's having a drink the next day it is


because you're having those withdrawal

symptoms and alcohol relieves those

withdrawal symptoms that's why that

actually does work

having a drink to relieve a hangover

will work in most cases because

alcohol is with with relieving the

withdrawal symptoms

so you have the physical withdrawal

symptoms which involve craving they

involve just being uneasy

um obviously you can you can feel really


you can feel anxious and in extreme

situations when somebody is drinking

heavily every single day without a break

you can have very very severe

withdrawal symptoms which should never

be taken lightly

and if you are worried that that is you

that you wouldn't be able to stop

drinking without having very severe

withdrawal symptoms

uh delirium tremens things like that

you must consult a doctor it's vital

it's of

you know life and death importance that

you really do talk to somebody because

there's things that they can do to help

you there's medically

supervised detox from alcohol things

like that that are really important if

you feel like you are on

the spectrum of having very severe

withdrawal symptoms um

one of the ways to know that that might

be you is when is the last time you win

a day without a drink

and if it has been you know years

decades even

then you might want to talk to somebody

before you just quit cold turkey because

that physical aspect can actually be

dangerous now

the good news is according to the cdc

the percentage of the centers for

disease control the percentage of people

who are actually chemically addicted to

alcohol meaning they are going to have

very severe withdrawal symptoms possibly

if they stop because there's actually a

physical addiction a deep physical


is only 10 of excessive drinkers

so it's a very small percentage of total


because there's a lot of drinkers who

aren't excessive drinkers and excessive

drinkers are defined in this instance as

eight drinks per week per women

and 15 or more per week for men and so

if only 10 of people who are drinking at

that level

are actually what they would call

clinically dependent on alcohol

and that is the danger zone for

withdrawal so decide if you're in that


and then make sure you are assisted so

that's a physical aspect now the

physical aspect

of stopping cold turkey it actually can

go away relatively quickly i mean you

can start to feel better within days

certainly within a week and by two weeks

feel almost entirely normal

and you might have some of this no

matter if you're having very severe or

pretty mild symptoms

the idea that you're going to be uneasy

and anxious

so your body has been compensating for

the presence of alcohol

so alcohol is a depressant so your

body's been

actually releasing additional stimulants

to compensate

for the depressant nature of alcohol

when you take the depression away

your body just looks like on high alert

rev you know

all of these stimulants are still

flooding into your body because your

body hasn't quite realized

oh we're not putting in the depressant

anymore i don't need to be compensating

and so that results in feeling highly

anxious at first you know

on edge really jittery you know

different things like that

it can manifest in different ways for

different people people can get


you know very just specific um

you could be really thirsty because your

body is trying to like just purge

the alcohol the residual alcohol for

your sis from your system you could be


all sorts of things like that those

things aren't necessarily dangerous in


it's really when you get to

hallucinations delivering tremendous and

things like that that you want to be

very very cautious and talk to your


but the physical aspects you know

alcohol is actually out of the body


i think the max is 72 hours and then the

brain rebalances what i was talking

about before about your brain

over compensating for the presence of

alcohol and the chronic presence of

alcohol in most of our cases

that can take a few weeks but then

you're really done physically

from a cold turkey perspective and your

your body is physically really

you know kind of back to normal which is

such a cool thing you start sleeping


you start feeling better you get your

energy back you stop

you know having kind of that low level

anxiety that alcohol causes by releasing

cortisol all those things are great

that is when we need to talk about the

mental aspect to quitting cold turkey

the most difficult thing about quitting

drinking alcohol

is by and large the mental aspect and

this is why

you know if it was if it was just

physical we'll just get through those

two weeks

who cares white knuckle it like you know

be on the couch in front of netflix and

and eat some bon bons and

you know ice cream sundaes and just get

through it it's just two weeks and then

you're going to be fine if it was

just physical we would not have the

problems that we have it just

it just wouldn't be the case it is the

mental aspect and the mental aspect

sounds like this

i desire something that i am no longer

letting myself have

and when you desire something that

you're no longer letting yourself have

you create craving deprivation

kind of a pity party feeling sorry for

yourself all of these sorts of things

and that is the mental aspect and that

rears its ugly head in

every situation imaginable from happy

hour looking around everybody else is

having a drink why can't you

you know just being at home watching a


some wine or beer commercial comes on

the tv and you start to feel bad for

yourself and that results in a huge

amount of mental stress and drama

around quitting cold turkey so quitting

cold turkey

without any education or mindset shift

or understanding

but you know retaining what we have

as a society which is the very kind of

common sense belief

that alcohol is a favorable thing for us

to do that it relieves stress that it

helps us relax

that it helps us have fun you know helps

us loosen up

hell is the antidote to social anxiety

helps us not be bored or lonely all of

these things that we believe are

benefits from alcohol

when you stop doing it but you still

believe that all those things are

beneficial you start feeling really bad

for yourself

and you're using willpower you're

basically white knuckling this change

when you quit cold turkey in that regard

and in most cases it just doesn't last

because you have your you're on an

alcohol diet

and you know how long diets last right

diets don't last as a whole

and people actually gain more weight

usually when they're chronic dieters

because it is that sense of deprivation

when you are deprived of something

there is this forbidden fruit syndrome

where you actually the thing that you

are depriving yourself

of becomes more important in your life

and so all of a sudden you might not be

drinking but what are you doing you're

thinking about drinking you're

feeling sorry for yourself that you're

not drinking drinking is creeping into

your mind you're

making drinking even more important

because you're like romanticizing it

because you still truly desire it

so the only way that i would recommend


would be with a massive mindset shift

where you actually go into every single

thing that you think alcohol does for

you all of the reasons that you drink

and you decide based on science and


does it actually do this thing and that

is what we deliver in the alcohol

experiment it is every single day

yes you're quitting cold turkey in the

alcohol experiment because it's a 30 day


and you can certainly go through the

alcohol experiment drinking just to get

the information and then

go through it again and make a change

that's totally available

but the idea is like yeah you're

quitting cold turkey day one is day one

of the 30 day challenge but

every single day you are getting a

mindset shift to where

that deep desire and craving mentally

is going away because the physical

cravings again those are done in two


and they really are somewhat simple in

the whole conversation but those

mental cravings that deep desire for


that can last as long as you retain a

belief that alcohol is really beneficial

and you're not allowing yourself to have

it and so

that becomes an entirely different

conversation and that really has to be


with a mindset shift with education with


with going through all of the things

that you think alcohol does for you and

one by one exploring them really

honestly i mean the truth is we know

more about the side effects of like

you know um advil or tylenol than we do

about the side effects of alcohol you

know we know more about what certain

things do in our brains and our bodies

than we do about alcohol and so the

alcohol experiment at its core

is just you know really mindful

education that is based in science about

what alcohol is and does not from a

scary perspective but just a very

straightforward here you know learn

about this

no shame no blame no judgment let's just

learn about it and then make a decision

from a place of empowerment


knowledge and then the second aspect to

quitting cold turkey that mental aspect

becomes an entirely different ballgame


i'll tell you one thing you take this to

the bank as my grandpa used to say

the thing is you do not

retain a desire for something you do not


there is a benefit to if you don't think

there's a benefit to drinking

if you explore all of the reasons that

all of and i know it's so hard to

believe right now like really there's no

benefit give me a break i can't believe

that at all that makes no sense

but when you go through and you explore

all the reasons you think you drink from

the taste

to loosing up social anxiety all the


and you go through the science and you

say oh my gosh wow

i actually don't see the benefit it is

as easy to turn down a drink and quit

cold turkey

as it is to you know turn down a

pint of motor oil it's kind of my

favorite example because you just don't

want to drink it

you're like why would i drink that and

by the way both motor oil and ethanol

which is a part of alcohol that gets you

drunk go in your car

so that's that's just an interesting

little antidote for you

a little parallel but um i really think

that in terms of going cold turkey

number one be really careful if you've

been drinking for a long time and you

think you're in

that 10 that might have a serious

problem withdrawal don't play with that

talk to your doctor work that out it's

not worth it's not worth it

it's dangerous number two understand

that most of it

is going to be mental the physical part

is relatively easy

but most of it is mental and so my best

suggestion for

overcoming the mental aspect is to find

a resource that really educates you

about what alcohol is and does from a


objective very scientific perspective

and i of course would

recommend at the top of that list the

alcohol experiment which is always free

at alcoholexperiment.com so what a great

question all about cold turkey

all right thank you