Drugs to Quit Cold Turkey

Drug and alcohol addiction affects the lives of millions of Americans every year. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Mental Health, over 40 million people in the U.S. struggled with addiction to drugs or alcohol. 

For many individuals living with addiction it may be tempting to stop using drugs or alcohol on their own, by going “cold turkey.” It is almost always best to get help from a qualified Tampa Bay drug and alcohol treatment facility. Some drugs have drastic side effects when they are stopped suddenly after being used regularly for any length of time. Others, on the other hand, have less severe withdrawal symptoms and can typically be safely stopped “cold turkey” without life-threatening consequences.


Though not generally considered to be physically addictive substances, hallucinogens are psychedelic substances that change the way a person thinks, feels, and perceives the world around them while taking these drugs. Hallucinogenic drugs are commonly taken as a method of escaping reality or in an attempt to bring on a spiritual “awakening” or experience. Common hallucinogens include:

  • DMT (N,N-dimethyltryptamine)
  • LSD
  • PCP (phencyclidine)
  • Peyote
  • Psilocybin
  • Salvia
  • Dextromethorphan (DXM)
  • Ketamine
  • Ayahuasca

These drugs may have dissociative effects, making a person feel detached from their own body and surroundings. A hallucinogenic “trip” can start within a few minutes of taking one of these drugs and last up to half a day or more, NIDA warns. When stopping use of a hallucinogen, a calm and quiet environment where the person can be kept safe from self-harm is key.


NIDA reports that inhalants are typically abused by young adults and adolescents. They are a class of drug typically found in household items. Inhalants generally fall into four main categories:

  • Nitrates. Usually used for sexual enhancement, they are butyl, amyl, and cyclohexyl nitrates called “poppers.” Often they are sold as “video head cleaner,” “room odorizer,” “leather cleaner,” “video head cleaner,” and “liquid aroma”
  • Volatile solvents. These are liquid products that vaporize when they reach room temperature, and include: paint thinner, correction fluid, dry cleaning fluid, degreasers, gasoline, paint remover, lighter fluid, glue, and felt-tip marker fluid
  • Aerosols. These are sprays that contain solvents or propellants. They include hair spray, cooking spray, deodorant, room deodorizer, fabric protecting spray, vegetable oil spray, and spray paint
  • Gases. Generally these are medical anesthetics, but can be found in household products as well. They include:  nitrous oxide, chloroform, ether, halothane, propane tanks, butane lighters, refrigerant gases, and whipped cream aerosols (“whippets”)

These products are sniffed, huffed, snorted, sprayed into the mouth or nose, or sprayed into a bag or cloth and then inhaled. Inhalants can be dangerous in as little as one use, and can cause significant brain damage or even death. They are not thought to be physically addictive but can lead to psychological dependence. These products can usually be stopped suddenly during detox without requiring any kind of tapering approach, especially since prolonged use can be so dangerous. The faster a person can stop using inhalants and get them out of the body and brain, the better.

Marijuana and Synthetic Cannabinoids

Marijuana is considered to be an addictive drug, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and it does have some withdrawal side effects when it is stopped cold turkey. Generally, these withdrawal symptoms are not life-threatening or physically significant, meaning that the drug can be stopped suddenly without tapering, especially if a medical detox protocol is used that can attend to the psychological needs of the individual as the drug processes out of the body.

Synthetic cannabinoids, often called “fake weed,” Spice,” and “K2,” are man-made chemicals that are often sprayed onto plant material and sold as “not for human consumption.” These products are often seen as an “improved” version of plant-based marijuana with higher and more potent concentrations of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the active mind-altering ingredient in marijuana.

Both marijuana and synthetic marijuana activate cannabinoid receptors in the brain to act as hallucinogens and pleasure-enhancers, making these products potentially more dangerous and more addictive. Both substances will have similar withdrawal symptoms when use is stopped.

Side effects of marijuana withdrawal include:

  • Difficulties sleeping
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Headaches
  • Decreased appetite
  • Trouble feeling pleasure
  • Lack of motivation
  • Cravings
  • Mental sluggishness

These symptoms can all be managed with supportive care. Cravings and emotional symptoms of withdrawal can be significant, however, and medical detox can provide a supportive environment, professional mental healthcare, and encouragement to prevent relapse and allow individuals to learn to control cravings. Behavioral therapies work to address the psychological effects of addiction and symptoms of marijuana withdrawal.


Stimulant drugs, like cocaine, methamphetamine (meth or crystal meth), ecstasy or Molly, and prescription stimulants (e.g., Adderall or Ritalin), induce an intense and euphoric high when abused. Moods are elevated, and individuals may feel invincible, energetic, highly sociable, focused, alert, and awake. The crash that follows the high can be just as intense, leaving people feeling lethargic, fatigued, depressed, and anxious. It can also disrupt concentration and focusing abilities.

Drugs like cocaine are often taken in a binge pattern in order to prolong the positive effects and avoid the negative ones when the drug then wears off. This can cause the brain to expect and count on the drug. If the drug is stopped suddenly it can create intense withdrawal symptoms. Per NIDA, these symptoms can include:

  • Insomnia.
  • Fatigue.
  • Depression.
  • Increased appetite.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) warns that particularly significant psychological withdrawal symptoms can occur during stimulant withdrawal as well. These include:

  • Paranoia.
  • Anxiety.
  • Suicidal thoughts and actions.
  • Aggression and violent outbursts.
  • Intense drug cravings.
  • Trouble feeling pleasure.
  • Memory problems.
  • Vivid dreams.

Supportive care is important during stimulant detox to ensure individuals remain safe and do not present a danger to themselves or others. While stimulants can be stopped suddenly, detox should still be performed in a specialized facility that can provide around-the-clock care and supervision.

Detox and Supportive Care

Addiction Rehab and Detox

While these drugs may not have intense and life-threatening physical consequences when they are stopped cold turkey, a professional detox program is still typically considered the optimal environment in which to process these toxins out of the body.  These programs staff highly trained professionals who are available around the clock to manage any potential mental health or medical complications that may arise.

Detox is not a standalone treatment for addiction. Instead, it should be considered one part of a comprehensive treatment program. Continued supportive care and specialized treatment can help to minimize relapse and build on the stable foundation created during detox.

The Benefits of Drug and Alcohol Addiction Treatment

Tampa area drug and alcohol rehab centers can also provide a high level of supportive care and encouragement to help individuals manage the cravings they may encounter during withdrawal. Medical detox can offer a calm, quiet, and serene environment that is conducive to healing while the brain works to reset itself without drugs. Treatment providers are on site, helping individuals learn how to recognize and manage potential triggers for relapse, and to work through cravings and psychological withdrawal symptoms.

Treatment providers can also help individuals throughout the recovery journey by developing plans to meet each person’s needs and treatment goals. From detox to treatment to aftercare planning, the specialists at River Oaks Treatment Center are with you every step of the way. Emotional support is also offered via counseling and therapy sessions as well as through support group meetings or alumni app.

Drug and Alcohol Rehab in Hillsborough County

If you or someone you love are struggling with addiction to drugs or alcohol, there is hope. The highly qualified addiction treatment specialists at River Oaks Treatment Center provide comprehensive and effective evidence-based addiction treatment that is customized to each individual that comes to us for help.

To find out more about our programs, contact our compassionate and knowledgeable admissions navigators at . They can help you find out if your treatment is covered by insurance, and answer your questions about our facility, the admissions process, and paying for rehab.

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