The cold turkey method relies on using willpower alone to ditch the habit. While a popular method for many who want to quit smoking, evidence suggests that it could lead to intense craving and psychological symptoms of withdrawal, ‘cheating’ (by way of sneaking in a puff – or several), and subsequently returning to one’s old cigarette habit.
Think about it. You’ve spent days, months, even years building and sustaining a practice that’s become as second nature to you as breathing (but in a decreased lung capacity sort of way). Reversing that habit requires you to unlearn the lifestyle, patterns and behaviour that led you there in the first place. Not doing so could lead you to relapse at a later stage and return to your smoking habit, according to research conducted by Pfizer, which found the success rate to be only three per cent of smokers who quit smoking using the cold turkey method remain smoke-free long-term.
Withdrawal symptoms such as restlessness and irritability, as well as psychological effects like low mood, weight gain and depression, are likely to be greater without the use of any tools to mitigate them, increasing a smoker’s probability of falling off the wagon.
Common smoking cessation methods like nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), including nicotine patches, gum and e-cigarettes, though effective at helping to reduce the physical nicotine dependence, are usually limited in dealing with the psychological side of addiction. And when it comes to quitting smoking, nicotine withdrawal is in the mind so the ‘why’ is just as important as the ‘when’.