Long-term substance use creates in the body a chemical dependency on alcohol and drugs. Abrupt, sudden removal of the substance, or quitting “cold turkey,” can be dangerous, leading to significant physical symptoms of withdrawal, medical complications and, in some cases, even death. Alcohol and drug withdrawal symptoms might include fever, nausea and seizures. Going through withdrawal from drugs and/or alcohol can also have difficult psychological effects, such as feelings of anxiety or depression.
While many veterans have a learned tendency to be self-reliant, it is unsafe and potentially life-threatening to try and cope with withdrawal symptoms alone, without medical supervision. Trying to detox without support is also likely to lead to relapse due to cravings and temptation to return to substance use to alleviate the withdrawal symptoms.
Medically-supervised detoxification, or withdrawal management, is often recommended for individuals with substance use disorders.