Top 5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Go Cold Turkey

by Dr Antonio Howell, MD

in how give up smoking, quit smoking

Dr. Howell

For the last 10 years, 26 states in the US have been very busy implementing indoor smoking bans and anti-smoking campaigns which cover almost half of the American population. Both the government and independent health organizations and charities focused on devising strategies that will help smokers get off from their unhealthy habit.

Among the most commonly practiced smoking cessation techniques is the “quit cold turkey”. This involves immediate withdrawal. It’s as simple as throwing away the cigarette and telling yourself you had enough of smoking and you quit. Ideal as it may seem, quitting cold turkey is not always the best way to go. Here are the five reasons why:

1. It makes you crave for more.

The reason why you can’t help but light up is because your brain is longing for nicotine. This highly addictive substance attaches to a special set of receptors in your brain which in turn trigger the production of dopamine (chemicals associated with pleasure.). Unless there’s something that blocks the nicotine, the craving remains.

2. It makes smoking cessation more difficult.

Because of the intense craving, you give all your efforts not to light up. Depending on nicotine tolerance, you are more likely to suffer from debilitating withdrawal symptoms such as severe headache, anxiety, mood swings, digestive problems, and so on.


3.  People who quit cold turkey are more likely to experience depression

Depression is among the worst side effects of quitting smoking. However, it is only for a temporary period of time. But people with weaker personalities find it hard to deal with depression associated with quitting smoking. And because of the intense longing to light up, they often end up smoking more than the usual.

4.  When you get back to smoking, you light up more.

When you so missed something, like your favorite food for instance, you want to taste it all over again until you have filled the longing you once had. So instead of your usual one plate, you ask for another one. This goes true with smoking. People who have gone cold turkey and failed have the tendency to increase their nicotine consumption.

5.  It’s almost impossible without support


As Thomas Glynn, director of cancer science and trends at the American Cancer Society puts it – It is like tightrope-walking without a net. Other than having a strong willpower, going cold turkey can be an extremely difficult undertaking especially when you get no support from your loved ones.


Every day, thousands of smokers attempt to quit but only a few succeed. The problem with many of them is that they underestimate the power of nicotine. But it’s easier said than done. Before going cold turkey, know some other smoking cessation options. Seek professional advice is necessary.

Bottom line: There is nothing wrong with quitting cold-turkey but for many people quitting requires a little more help.


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