Face it, if you are dependent on alcohol, quitting is going to be hell. Of course, what do they say; “if you have to go through hell, don’t stop, keep going.” Yes, it’s a New Year, so perhaps one of your New Year’s Resolutions is to stop drinking, or maybe you just want to cut back substantially. If you are already an alcoholic, you know you are going to have to quit completely. You are probably wondering if that is even possible?
Well, it is possible, but you probably won’t be able to pull-it-off by yourself. You are going to need some support from friends and family, and perhaps some professional assistance, especially if you want it to stick. In fact, 90% of do-it-yourself alcohol detox successes relapse in less than four years. Most of those in the first 3-6 months. Okay so, 100% minus 90% = a 10% success rate for do-it-yourself alcohol detox.
Another interesting fact is that after so many tries and so many failures, dependent alcohol users stop believing they can quit or that it is even possible. That’s another depressing and sad fact.
Do-It-Yourself Alcohol Detox Can Be Dangerous to Your Health
Most people that try a Do-It-Yourself detox attempt to quit Cold Turkey. If you’ve been drinking for a while and consume a large amount of alcohol, chances are your body has become tolerant to the effects of the alcohol (poison, neurotoxin). Your body has become used to it, adjusted to it, and it has rewired your brain and your system.
If you abruptly take it away, your body can no longer function without it. That’s when all hell can break loose. This phenomenon is more than just overwhelming withdrawal symptoms. It’s literally shutting down your internal organs. This could lead to kidney failure, heart attack, lung problems, delirium tremens, ketoacidosis, brain damage, even death (cite below).
The Romanticism of the Cold Turkey Tough Guy Bravado
So, why do so many people try and fail at their do-it-yourself detox New Year’s Resolutions and goals? Well, if you’ve tried and failed in the past you certainly are not alone. You shouldn’t beat yourself up about it, or dwell on your failure. It’s not that you lack the will or character to see it through. The real problem is your body can’t handle it. Look, no matter how tough you think you are, or how much pain you can force yourself through – there is still the reality behind the alcohol use disorder.
We all wish we could muster the strength to just put down the alcohol and never take another drink. It’s just not that easy. Your body at this point needs alcohol to function, and your mind inherently knows that the only way to feel normal is to take a drink, then everything will be alright. Your brain is telling you that if you don’t feed your body alcohol, it’s not going to run right. Unfortunately, once alcohol dependency has set in, this is actually true. See the problem?
Sure, it would be quite sexy and show you are in total control if you could just quit cold turkey. It’s just that, well, it doesn’t work that way.
“Alcohol and the brain: Pharmacological insights for psychiatrists,” by David Nutt, Published in The British Journal of Psychiatry Volume 175, Issue 2, August 1999, pp. 114-119.