Quitting Cold Turkey: Not a Good Idea
Researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center have completed animal studies that have found quitting drugs cold turkey, without treatment, can trigger a decline in mental health.
The researchers’ observations of animals addicted to morphine suggest that managing withdrawal can promote a healthier mental state in people.1 Over time, it is not uncommon for drug-abusing individuals to develop mental disorders, and past research has thought that drug abuse itself is the contributable factor; however, quitting cold turkey can also lead to damage.1
Professor of Neuroscience, Italo Mocchetti, Ph.D. and colleagues treated withdrawing mice with morphine and allowed some to undergo withdrawal by stopping the treatment.1 Then, the researchers measured the pro-inflammatory cytokines, which can promote damage and cell death, as well as protein CCL5, which has many protective effects in the brain.1
They found that treating the mice with morphine was beneficial, as it increased the protective CCL5 protein and decreased the pro-inflammatory cytokines.1 Mice that were not treated during withdrawal had the opposite results.1 Their CCL5 proteins decreased and the damaging cytokines increased.1
Researchers state that morphine withdrawal may be a factor that leads to mental decline, which opens up an important research avenue to see how people quitting drugs can be better helped.1
 Wood, J. (2013). In Animal Study, Cold Turkey Withdrawal Can Trigger Mental Decline. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 11, 2013, from http://psychcentral.com/news/2013/11/10/in-animal-study-cold-turkey-withdrawal-can-trigger-mental-decline/61800.html