Is it dangerous to suddenly quit drinking alcohol?

Alcohol consumption is a highly normalised activity, on a global scale. For a large majority of individuals who consume alcohol, it will be a social and innocent action.

However, for a fraction of the world population, alcohol will be used as a coping strategy, where addictive tendencies are usually present.

For those misusing alcohol, withdrawal can be very challenging. Withdrawal symptoms are commonly experienced in between consumption sessions.

Overarching withdrawal is also tough, where aiming to quit drinking alcohol is commonly branded as impossible.

Through the challenges of withdrawal, many individuals do attempt a cold turkey approach. They hope that to suddenly quit drinking alcohol will alleviate their addictive behaviours, side effects and long-term withdrawal symptoms.

Yet, through this action, dangerous impacts on physical and psychological health, to recovery capabilities, and to future confidence in withdrawal are found, making it a very risky process to attempt.

Down to this, before acting on withdrawal efforts, it’s important to ask, ‘is it dangerous to suddenly quit drinking alcohol?’.

Here’s all you need to know about abruptly quitting alcohol consumption, along with safe and effective ways to withdraw, reduce risk of relapse and recover on a comprehensive basis.


Alcohol, the body and the brain

On the surface, alcohol is known to offer relaxing and positive effects. There are many different reasons why alcohol is a substance of choice for many, from its cost, to its legal status, and to its normalised image.

While on the surface, it’s perceived as harmless, once alcohol enters the body, significant adaptations take place on physical and psychological levels.

Of course, for the average drinker, alcohol will not have long-term lasting impacts, beyond a common hangover. Yet, for someone who’s misusing alcohol on a consistent or long-term basis, impacts are likely, down to those adaptations.

As alcohol reaches our neurotransmitters in the brain, it begins to take control of our hormones, chemical messages, and feelings. Commonly, natural chemicals, such as dopamine will control this system.

Yet, drinking alcohol and its presence soon takes over that control, offering artificial support and motivation.

Down to the fact that alcohol adapts brain functionality, and ultimately how the body and mind respond, cravings will continue, as a reliance will be found on physical and psychological levels.

Without ongoing alcohol consumption, withdrawal symptoms show themselves, indicating that artificial levels of hormones and chemicals have reduced (realistically the levels of alcohol), causing shock.

This is why it can be very difficult to break the routine of drinking alcohol, as those adaptations can become deeply ingrained, challenging to revert and stabilise.


What happens when an alcoholic, stops drinking?

At Step One Recovery, we regularly get asked questions around quitting alcohol consumption. A common one is ‘how to go cold turkey on alcohol?’. Understandably, avoiding all forms of alcohol, in the midst of withdrawal, is desirable.

Cutting consumption to zero, with positive responses, in the ideal world will be aimed for. Yet, in reality, down to the adaptations that we’ve mentioned about, this can be very dangerous.

When an alcoholic, stops drinking alcohol, the body will go into shock, on physical and psychological levels. This is why withdrawal symptoms present themselves, as an indication that unpleasant change has been experienced in the brain.

Withdrawal symptoms can be anything from mild to chronic, where fatigue, nausea, depression, feelings of anxiety, and migraines are common.

Yet, for those who experience chronic withdrawal, significant worry is present, down to likelihoods of hallucinations, convulsions and delirium tremens.

The withdrawal process, as a whole, can place significant pressure on the body and brain. Yet, an instant cut off, where the aim to suddenly quit drinking alcohol is followed, life-changing health issues can materialise, discouraging the cold turkey approach.


Is it dangerous to suddenly quit drinking alcohol?

‘Is it dangerous to suddenly quit drinking alcohol?’ is also another question we get asked. By considering the above, and how the brain reacts to the long-term presence of alcohol, yes, it can be very dangerous.

Excessive alcohol abuse ultimately disorders with the body and brains organic functioning and condition. This is one main reason why urgent intervention is recommended for alcoholics.

Through consumption, the body and brain will begin to stabilise through artificial forms of chemicals and hormones, by also suppressing the organic functionality of the body.

With this in mind, by suddenly quitting alcohol, the damages that have already been experienced can heighten, causing a heavily complex situation.

As we’ve shared above, significant withdrawal symptoms can be experienced, which without medical observation and intervention, can turn life-threatening or into a form of dual diagnosis.

Going cold turkey once again disorders with the stabilisation of the body, which can be highly demanding on someone with poor health, an unfortunate likelihood for alcoholics.

Key vitamins, electrolytes and minerals can also plummet, which without restoration, can motivate the detrimental formation of deficiencies, cognitive impairment and mental health issues.

It’s also important to note that the downfalls of sudden withdrawal, which commonly results in heightened cravings and risks of relapse, confidence levels can be knocked when regarding future withdrawal attempts.

This can be an extremely testing mind frame to enter, soon reverting the desire to quit on alcohol, strengthening addictive tendencies.

Down to the danger of suddenly quitting alcohol, it’s important that a slow yet productive withdrawal process is aimed for, helping to preserve health, control and functionality.

Working with professionals via a treatment centre will be your best option if you are hoping to quit drinking alcohol.


Withdrawing from alcohol, safely and sustainably

To avoid the risks of quitting alcohol ineffectively and dangerously, it’s important to consider a medically observed withdrawal process.

Through a rehab clinic, safe and sustainable forms of withdrawal can be aimed for, by slowly reducing traces in the body. While challenges can still present themselves, control, coping strategies and encouragement will also be present to alleviate the tests of quitting alcohol.

If addiction is present, it’s also vital to recognise the need for additional treatment services and resources to promote full recovery, rather than standalone physical withdrawal.

At Step One Recovery, we can help you with this process from one of our reputable treatment centres. Select the safest form of quitting on alcohol, helping you maintain a sober, healthy future, rather than a potentially alcohol-induced life.

If you have any questions like ‘is it dangerous to suddenly quit drinking alcohol?’, contact our team today.

It’s important to consider your concerns and options before acting on withdrawal. Alternatively, source support from relevant helplines available to guide you through alcoholism.