blank   Click to listen highlighted text! blank

Heroin Addiction: Does Cold Turkey Quitting Work?

Posted on :  January 25th, 2016  |  By :  towardsrecovery

Heroin is one of the most difficult drugs to break an addiction to. The drug affects the central nervous system and works like morphine, so the body processes it in a physiological and psychological way. After time, the body physically requires the drug, so quitting “cold turkey” is a difficult way to fight an addiction to heroin. For many, this method of withdrawal does not work.

Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms

The symptoms can come from heroin withdrawal can negatively affect the body. This is why so many heroin addicts end up detoxing over a long period of time with the help of prescription medications. When a user tries to quit by stopping usage, they can have painful and troublesome withdrawal symptoms. They usually include vomiting and diarrhea, aches and pains in the body, insomnia and restlessness, and cold flashes. Most people end up relapsing simply to make the symptoms of withdrawal stop. Instead, users perform better with a tapering system managed by a professional.

Result of Withdrawal

The “cold turkey” method of withdrawal can actually result in death. Long-term users are unable to manage complete withdrawal of the drug. Their bodies require the drug to function properly and some users who have tried to cold turkey quit have had their bodies die from the stresses that come with withdrawal.

The risks that come with cold turkey quitting are not worth the chances death. While a few of the symptoms might not seem like a big deal, because most people have experienced these symptoms, the heroin-addicted body does not function like a normal body.

A non-drug addicted body is able to better regulate itself. A heroin-addicted body has been so damaged by the drug that vomiting and diarrhea can quickly turn to dehydration.

Many people experience aches and pain, but the heroin-addicted body cannot use over-the-counter painkillers to calm the sensation because the morphine receptors no longer will work in the same way. Many heroin addicts who try to quit become severely depressed, too.

When addicts work with a professional to taper their withdrawal, they might work together for months. Heroin addicts who try to quit cold turkey will have symptoms that can last for a week or more after their last dose. A week is a long time, especially for someone who knows that a quick hit of heroin can make the symptoms immediately go away. A tapered withdrawal will reduce the intensity of the symptoms so the user is more likely to really stop taking the drug.

There are some users who have more success with the cold turkey method. The first trait is having good health. Most heroin users do not because they are addicted to the drug and their bodies no longer function as they should. Those who are successful with the cold turkey method should also not use any other drugs. Heroin users often use several drugs, including alcohol and tobacco. They should have a strong will to quit and they should also be free of conditions that could be triggered during when the symptoms show up. For example, if a user has a history of depression, quitting cold turkey could create a severe depression.

The complications that can come from quitting cold turkey keep doctors and other healthcare professionals from recommending it to users. The pain and complications are too serious for most people to be successful.

At Towards Recovery Clinics we work with patients who want to stop their heroin addiction, but we do so by using the methadone method.

We help patients taper off of their addictions so their withdrawal symptoms are minimal. We know what it takes for a user to succeed in not using anymore.

Contact us at 905-527-2042 or email at for more information.

Who We Serve ?

  • Individuals using/abusing street narcotics (e.g. heroin).
  • Patients abusing prescription narcotics(i.e., Codeine, Talwin, Percocet/Percodan, Dilaudid, Morphine or Demerol, et cetera).
  • Individuals displaying any of the following behaviours: Compulsive drug use or drug seeking/craving.
Click to listen highlighted text!