We are not too far removed from two big holidays that often feature turkey as part of a big feast. For Thanksgiving and often for Christmas, many people look forward to a longstanding family tradition—including turkey and a whole host of other holiday delights.
Even after everyone stuffs themselves, there are often leftovers. Indeed, it is likely that many people cook more than necessary on Thanksgiving and Christmas precisely because they hope to have leftovers. Among the possible post-holiday delights? A cold turkey sandwich with cranberry sauce and mayo.
We are getting hungry just thinking about it.
It might sound mighty good to you, too—but you might also be wondering why we’re talking turkey here in this blog devoted to issues related to recovery from substance use disorders.
Here’s why: The sentence above, in which we suggest that cold turkey pairs well with cranberry sauce on two slices of bread with some mayo, is the only sort of sentence in which the phrase “cold turkey” is useful.
Cold Turkey is a Terrible Recovery Strategy
When it comes to drugs and alcohol, “going cold turkey” means deciding to stop using substances suddenly and completely. It is often the favored strategy of someone who is trying to prove—to others or to themselves—that they can simply stop using drugs or alcohol whenever they want to. If they can stop cold turkey, the thinking goes, they don’t really have a problem.
But the odds are pretty good that they do, in fact, have a problem. And quitting cold turkey won’t solve that problem. It will only introduce new complications.
That’s because withdrawal symptoms can be just as bad as the effects of sustained drug or alcohol use. Now the food-related phrase changes from cold turkey to something a lot hotter—withdrawal can be a lot like finding yourself jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire.
Whichever Cliché You Choose, You’re Stuck in a Bad Spot
We have lots of different ways to express the idea that we have a problem and that our two apparent choices for solving that problem are both…well…problematic.
Out of the frying pan and into the fire.
Stuck between a rock and a hard place.
Caught between the devil and the deep blue sea.
Between Scylla and Charybdis. (This one is most likely to be said by your friend who loves Greek mythology.)
No matter which expression you prefer, they are all applicable to a person who tries a cold turkey approach to a substance use disorder. The situation plays out like this:
The drugs or alcohol you are using are threatening your mental and physical health.
You quit cold turkey and the withdrawal symptoms you experience threaten your mental and physical health—and send you scurrying back to drugs or alcohol in the hope of putting those symptoms behind you.
The drugs or alcohol you are using once again threaten your mental and physical health.
And round and round you go.
You would be justified in believing that you are in an impossible situation. Justified, that is, if cold turkey was the only available choice for attempting to leave drugs or alcohol behind.
But of course, it is not the only choice. The better choice by far would be to get treatment for your substance use disorder at a nationally certified recovery center—like Wooded Glen Recovery Center.
The Importance of Separating Fact from Fiction When it Comes to Recovery
Did you know that many believe that Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey to be the national bird of the United States? That would have meant celebrating (but probably not eating) the turkey on the Fourth of July rather than for Thanksgiving and Christmas. But while Franklin did indeed admire the turkey, the notion that he thought it should be an enduring symbol of the country is a myth.
The idea that giving up drugs or alcohol cold turkey is a good idea is also a myth. The reality is that the best way to address a substance use disorder is via evidence-based treatment that includes medically supervised detoxification, a rehabilitation program that offers treatment for co-occurring mental health disorders, and a continuum of care that allows you feel confident in your sobriety as your recovery journey gets underway.
That combination of detox, rehab, and a continuum of care is on offer at Wooded Glen Recovery Center in Indiana. If you are struggling with drugs or alcohol, we can help you reclaim your sobriety and give you the tools and support you need to maintain that hard-won sobriety over time.