Why the “cold turkey” method of quitting smoking or vaping doesn’t work – and what does?
Updated: Apr 13
Quitting smoking is a difficult but rewarding process that can have a significant impact on a person's health and well-being. Smoking is a leading cause of preventable death worldwide, and it is estimated that smoking kills over 8 million people annually. There are many techniques to quit smoking like smoking cessation apps, self-control, cognitive behavioral therapy, and counseling; and cold turkey is one of them.
What is the "cold turkey" method of quitting smoking/vaping?
The "cold turkey" method of quitting smoking or vaping involves abruptly stopping nicotine intake without any gradual reduction or assistance from nicotine replacement therapy or medications. This method is often seen as a "quick fix" smoking cessation plan to quit smoking or vaping and is a popular approach for those who want to quit without seeking professional help or support.
But is it the most effective way to stop smoking? Quitting smoking or vaping cold turkey involves making a firm decision to quit and stopping all use of nicotine immediately. Some people may choose this method because they believe it's the most straightforward approach, while others may use it as a last resort after trying other unsuccessful smoke cessation programs.
Why Is the Cold Turkey Method Not The Most Effective Way to Stop Smoking?
1. Abrupt cessation of nicotine intake can cause intense withdrawal symptoms
Nicotine is an addictive substance, and quitting smoking or vaping involves breaking a physical addiction to this substance. When someone quits cold turkey, they stop using nicotine abruptly, without a smoking cessation plan, which can lead to intense withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can include cravings, irritability, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, insomnia, and even physical symptoms such as headaches, nausea, and sweating. For some people, these symptoms can be so intense that they find it difficult to function normally in their daily lives.
2. Can lead to a relapse if withdrawal symptoms become unbearable
If the withdrawal symptoms from quitting cold turkey become too intense, it can lead to a relapse. People who experience intense withdrawal symptoms may feel like they can't cope and may turn back to smoking or vaping to alleviate their symptoms. Relapse can be frustrating and demotivating, which can make it harder to quit smoking or vaping in the future unless you are supported by a smoke cessation program.
3. Cold turkey doesn't address the underlying psychological and environmental factors that contribute to addiction
Smoking or vaping is not just a physical addiction; it's also a psychological addiction. People who smoke or vape may use these activities as a way to cope with stress, anxiety, or other emotions. Additionally, environmental factors such as being around other smokers or vapers can trigger the urge to smoke or vape. That is why it is not one of the effective ways to quit vaping or smoking. When someone quits cold turkey, they are only addressing the physical addiction to nicotine, not the underlying psychological and environmental factors that contribute to addiction. This can make it harder to quit smoking or vaping in the long term.
4. Can result in a sense of failure and shame if not successful
When someone quits smoking or vaping cold turkey and is unsuccessful, they may feel like they've failed. This can lead to feelings of shame and disappointment, which can make it harder to try quitting again in the future. Quitting smoking or vaping is a challenging process, and it's important to have a supportive and non-judgmental approach and the backing of a smoke cessation program to avoid feeling like a failure if the cold turkey method is not successful.
What is a cold turkey alternative?
If you're looking to quit smoking, there are a lot of resources out there that can help you in every stage of the process. One such smoke cessation program is the QuitSure app, which offers a 6-day program designed to help you quit smoking for good. Unlike the cold turkey method, which can be difficult to stick to and may lead to intense withdrawal symptoms, the QuitSure program offers a structured approach that helps you uproot your cravings from your subconscious, leading to a smoke-free status.
The program is designed to help you through every stage of quitting, from pre-contemplation to contemplation, action, and maintenance. On day 1, you'll receive guidance from this smoking cessation app on the pre-contemplation and contemplation stages, and you'll have access to specialized coaches and a supportive Facebook community to help keep you motivated. Once you start the program, you'll find that the action and maintenance stages are taken care of, as the program works to eliminate your cravings, leading to a reduced desire to smoke and ultimately, a smoke-free life. It provides the best smoking cessation plan!
The QuitSure app's approach is a more effective alternative to quitting smoking cold turkey, as it offers a structured program that is easier to follow and is backed by a supportive community. By uprooting your cravings from your subconscious, the QuitSure program helps you achieve a smoke-free status without the intense withdrawal symptoms and sense of failure that often come with the cold turkey method. Read more to find out if you are ready to quit smoking for good.