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Posts Tagged ‘withdrawal symptoms’

Question by Smile!: Where does the phrase “going cold turkey” come from?

Best answer:

Answer by Monty
“”Cold turkey” is an expression describing the actions of a person who gives up a habit or addiction all at once. That is, rather than gradually easing the process through reduction or by using replacement medication. Its supposed advantage is that by not actively using supplemental methods, the person avoids thinking about the habit and its temptation, and avoids further feeding the chemical addiction. The supposed disadvantages related to the abuse of drugs such as alcohol, benzodiazepines, and heroin are unbearable withdrawal symptoms from the total absence, which may cause tremendous stress on the heart and blood vessels and β€” in a worst case scenario β€” possible stroke or heart failure.

The etymology derives from the phrase talk turkey, in which someone deals matter-of-factly with a subject. Some, however, believe the derivation is from the comparison of a cold turkey carcass and the state of a withdrawing addict β€” most notably, the cold sweats and goose bumps. It is often preceded by the verb “to go,” as in “going cold turkey.” Yet another suggestion of origin is that cold turkey is a dish that needs little or no preparation. “To quit like cold turkey” would be to quit in the same way a cold turkey is served, instantly just as you are without preparation.

Answer by –>The Reverend
Cold turkey refers to the clammy, cold, sweaty and goose bumped state of the heroin addict that is trying to “kick” the habit. This happens when the junkie decides to give up heroin without any sort of support mechanism – such as methadone – to take the place of the heroin. The body reacts by turning cold, clammy, sweaty, and the skin resembles that of a cold turkey.

‘Without preparation’. First used in correlation with withdrawl from an addictive substance in the 1920s with regards to heroin addiction. The idea being that “cold turkey” is a food that requires little to no preparation to eat – hence doing something “cold turkey” means the action will be done without preparation & immediately. Also connected to the notion that the symptoms of withdrawl from many substances include cold sweats (moisture), and sallow skin – much like that of a cold, dead, turkey.

Immediate, complete withdrawal from something, especially an addictive substance; also, without planning or preparation. For example, My bad shoulder forced me to quit playing tennis cold turkey, or I’d never done any rock climbing, but decided to try it cold turkey. This term may have come from the earlier expression talk turkey (for blunt speaking). At first used strictly for abrupt withdrawal from drugs or alcohol, it soon was transferred to quitting any habit or activity.

By 1922, cold turkey was not always a leftover from Thanksgiving dinner. For an addict, it was quite the opposite. “This method of sudden withdrawall,” explained a writer that year, “is described in the jargon of the jail as ‘the cold turkey’ treatment,” It meant “to immediately and completely give up a substance, such as narcotics or alcohol, to which one was addicted.”

The shock to the system was such that few addicts voluntarily chose it. “Mention of the ‘cold turkey treatment’ gives a chill of horror to a drug addict,” said Newsweek in 1933. “It means being thrown in jail with his drug supply completely cut off.” And Mickey Spillane wrote in I, the Jury (1947), “I doubt if you can comprehend what it means to one addicted to narcotics to go ‘cold turkey’ as they call it.”

This use of cold turkey is an outgrowth of a previous sense, attested as early as 1910, meaning “extreme plainness and directness,” going back to talk turkey, attested in 1830. Carl Sandburg used the term this way in a 1922 letter: “I’m going to talk cold turkey with the booksellers about the hot gravy in the stories.”


Of course, the term ‘cold turkey’ in the literal ‘cold meat’ sense appears many times in recipes – ‘cold turkey salad’ etc. Neither of the meanings above appear to have any allusory link back to that though.

The most common use of the term is now in relation to drug withdrawal. The earliest reference I can find to that is from the Canadian newspaper The Daily Colonist, October 1921:

“Perhaps the most pitiful figures who have appeared before Dr. Carleton Simon..are those who voluntarily surrender themselves. When they go before him, they [drug addicts] are given what is called the ‘cold turkey’ treatment.”

The 1936 edition of American Speech gave a definition of the term:

“Cold turkey, treatment of addicts in institutions where they are taken off drugs suddenly without the ‘tapering off’ which the addict always desires.”

The ‘plain talking/getting down to business’ meaning of the term is largely limited to the U.S.A. The English newspaper The Daily Express explained that for an English audience in a January 1928 edition:

“She talked cold turkey about sex. ‘Cold turkey’ means plain truth in America.”

There are many uses of the term in U.S. citations from the early 20th century. For example, this from The Oakland Tribune, August 1915:

“This letter talks cold turkey. It gets down to brass.”

In the state of drug withdrawal the addict’s blood is directed to the internal organs, leaving the skin white and with goose bumps. It has been suggested that this is what is alluded to by ‘cold turkey’. That seems doubtful. It is much more likely that the allusion is to the direct, no nonsense approach indicated by the earlier ‘plain speaking’ meaning of the term.

New Addiction Helpline in Manorville, NY Assists Troubled Teens Suffering From
The Alcoholism Treatment Manorville Helpline is (631) 693-6821. Teenagers can call this helpline to find a drug detoxification treatment center that can best help them surpass their addiction problems. Once admitted into a teenage rehab facility, they …
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Manitoba methadone clinic saved my life, young mom says
… giving an opiate addict a different kind of opiate. It keeps the cravings under control, manages withdrawal symptoms and gives the patient the time and the ability to pick up the pieces of their drug-shattered life. … She treats the addicts …

The Clearing Offers Addiction Treatment Guarantee
Given the overall dismal success rates of the addiction treatment and rehab industry, it's no surprise that very few residential rehab treatment centers guarantee results.. we wanted to change that. Seattle, WA (PRWEB) March 18, 2014. The Clearing SPC …
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Sex Traffickers Find Victims on Facebook
St. Louis-based Crisis Aid Safe Home serves as an emergency shelter and holistic rehabilitation service to American victims of sex trafficking. They also provide food for malnourished families and refugees globally. Crisis Aid's founder Pat … β€œThe …
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Path From Pain Pills To Heroin Addiction Nothing New In San Diego County
Sam Quinones, is a journalist for the Los Angeles Times who has reported extensively on heroin and prescription drug abuse. He's writing a book on the subject. Sherrie Rubin, is on the executive committee for the San Diego County Prescription Drug …
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Drug-free coalition eyes goals
Batesville Area Chamber of Commerce executive director Melissa Tucker said speaker Chad Vargas, who overcame a challenging childhood because of his mother's drug use, and the current online Community Perception Survey were other wins. Choices … When …
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Don't give up giving up smoking: An expert's guide to quitting
The way people think about addiction is that you need to take a drug to stay normal and to stave off withdrawal symptoms, nicotine addiction isn't that simple. You smoke because the nicotine you have been inhaling for all those years has changed your …
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For Maine babies exposed to drugs, disadvantages mount after leaving hospital
After enduring withdrawal symptoms that leave hundreds of Maine babies hospitalized during their first weeks of life, the infants often return to homes stricken by poverty and parents unprepared to care for them. While scientists … Babies born to …
Read more on Bangor Daily News

An Apex teen dies of an overdose of synthetic LSD
The group is like a family, and Timmy is the lynchpin. Timmy, the guy with the wide smile and … The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration considers synthetics like N-bomb and Molly to be the new frontier of drug abuse. Because manufacturers can tweak …
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Question by Liza Shevchuk: Natural Remedies For Brain Damage After Drug Abuse?
My older brother has done many drugs from about 16-21. Its been a year since his last use, and he’s been having some serious problems. He has high anxiety and he’s been having frequent episodes of “weird” (as he calls it) feelings. He doesn’t label it as feeling sick. During these episodes he feels jittery, emotional (even cry’s sometimes) out of control, his heart rate goes up. This also causes him to have insomnia. Maybe they’re panic attacks, but the thing is, what triggers it? This occurs randomly on a normal day. We believe its typical withdrawal symptoms, because he abused quite a few drugs. (Marijuana, cigarettes, ecstasy, crystal meth, shrooms, hookah, cocaine, inhalants, “uppers” (as he calls them))
He has gone to see his doctor several times to get treatment, and his doctor said he has migraines.
He prescribed him anti depressants and that didn’t help my brother AT ALL.
He does this herbal drop treatment (echinacea, other oils, etc) That help him sleep.
Now we’re trying to find him herbal remedies that would help repair his brain damage from all of the abuse he has done to it.
Thank you very much.

Best answer:

Answer by jannsody
I’m not sure that there will be repairing of the brain damage (presuming that he has that as I’m not a medical doctor :), but researchers believe that the brain is very “plastic” and may form new nerve pathways to *help* compensate for the injured areas.

With regard to inhalant use, my friend actually has a severe Brain Injury from huffing at the age of 12, now in her 30s. The chemicals in products used for huffing are actual *poisons* that were never meant to go through the bloodstream.

Please be *very* careful with herbal supplements or “remedies” (e.g., echinacea, ginkgo biloba, chamomile) as they can result in side effects and/or drug (medication) interactions. It’s best to check with a licensed pharmacist before taking any of them. Not everything that is “natural” is safe πŸ˜‰

Regarding the panic attacks, some people have generalized anxiety (to know specific event) or other types of anxiety. The antidepressants may help to lessen the intensity and/or frequency of the anxiety symptoms. Such medications tend to take about 6-8 weeks before possibly noticing results. A caveat (warning) is that some antidepressants may cause insomnia (trouble getting to and/or staying asleep). However, there are medications that one may take to help counteract the insomnia.

Even though benzo’s (e.g., ativan, valium, xanax, klonopin) may be prescribed to help with sleep, they’re not always recommended as a medication due to their physical addictiveness. (Some withdrawal symptoms from benzo’s may include seizures, psychosis/mental break from reality, or even death.) Some psychiatrists (it’s best to get medication for mental health issues from a board-certified psychiatrist as opposed to “just” a family doctor) prescribe seroquel (or other medications), which is classified as an antipsychotic but in smaller dosages may help with sleep.

You’d mentioned that he’s gone to the doctor several times, and I’m wondering if he’s gone to a neurologist which is medical dr who can help rule out disorders of the nervous system – brain, spinal cord, nerves. I’m just thinking that to help “cover all the bases” (not trying to give false hope though, know what I mean).

I’m not sure that he’d still be going through withdrawal symptoms a year after stopping the drugs, but it’s a good idea to ask a doctor about that as well.

Pertaining to the anxiety, please show him this government site which may have some local counseling agencies: and can click the second link. Then one can click “near you” on the left-hand side of the page under “find facilities” and can type one’s city and state of residence into search. Their toll-free 24/7 referral helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357). Just an fyi that the first link is for those looking for substance abuse counseling/treatment, and that may be an option if he’s still “using” or having cravings for substances.

A 12-step program, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), may have some local support groups. The only requirement is having a desire to get sober. One may attend an “open” AA meeting if there is no drinking problem:

This site has some common mottos pertaining to those 12-step programs, including “One day at a time”, “First things first” and “People, places and things”:

Al-Anon is a 12-step program for the *friends and family* of the problem drinker, but one may attend an “open” Al-Anon meeting if the loved one doesn’t have a drinking problem:

Drug settlement funds to benefit recovery centers
In addition to the $ 500,000 to build the new Recovery Kentucky facility in Ashland, Independence House in Corbin and Chrysalis House in Lexington will share $ 1 million to offer substance abuse treatment to pregnant women. The plan also provides $ 2.52 …
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Question by DLM: What is the current medical definition of “addiction?” (more)?
Also, does the definition differ from one substance to another, or in the case of gambling or other behaviors, where there is no chemical dependency, is there a separate definition for those as well?

I am just curious about the “umbrella” that the word addiction covers in the medical world, versus common everyday ‘people-talk’ use of the word. The more specifics you can provide, the better.

Best answer:

Answer by John de Witt
You’ll want a DSM-IV for all the definitions you’d ever care to look at.

Answer by Adam
I think addiction to substances and addiction to activities are two different things. Substances create a mostly physical need, and activities create a psychological need.

I doubt there is an exact definition for either case, but in general, addiction to a substance would imply that the person’s body goes through withdrawal symptoms when the substance does not enter the body. Addiction to an activity probably has a large gray area, but in general I’d say if a person sets the activity much higher than essentials (job, family, etc.), then the person is addicted to the activity. says: “Dependence is at such a point that stopping is very difficult and causes severe physical and mental reactions from withdrawal.”

So I’d say that the initial diagnosis is mostly a subjective thing only to be done by a doctor but probably not too difficult for a layman to identify. The objective diagnosis is in the reaction to absence of the substance or activity rather than the presence.