Quit Cold Turkey


August 14th, 2005, 10:57 pm #11

We are often accused of saying that going cold turkey is "the only way to quit." Actually we have never made that claim. This article is the original "cold turkey" article that I wrote decades ago. Actually, I added in the line "or use of nicotine replacement strategies" years after writing the original piece.
The concept that I have always used though in referencing the advantage of cold turkey quitting is is that cold turkey is the method of choice, for as it says here, it results in the end of physical withdrawal effects in a relatively short period of time.
For anyone who ever reads comments that WhyQuit.com says that "cold turkey" is the only way to quit, just know that the person writing the comment has not really read much at WhyQuit.com.
Also see the string Is cold turkey the only way to quit?
Last edited by Joel on December 30th, 2009, 10:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.


November 26th, 2005, 10:00 pm #12

Being that we are two days past Thanksgiving here in America, a lot of people are probably getting a little tired of "cold turkey." While some people may find it becomes a little mundane for another meal, it is still a great recipe for successful quitting. So today, whether you are quitting cold turkey (the food) or cold turkey the technique, just your smoking quit will be staying strong and secure as long as you stick with your personal commitment to never take another puff.



August 1st, 2006, 8:26 pm #13

A number of months back I had a person pose the following question at the AskJoel board:

"Hi, I have been told before that "cold turkey" stop smoking can actually bring out medical problems in your body because it shocks it and that the weaning method was actually safer. Have you seen any research to back this up? It terrifies me that this could be true but not stopping is just as scarey....

Thank you.

Here was the response I gave this person:

As far as I know there has never been any credible research done that had proved that quitting cold turkey was too dangerous. I actually haven't even had the question posed to me for many years.

There was a time when I used to get the question quite frequently. In my early years of doing programs I would hear it from people who told me that they had personal physicians who would tell them that quitting was just too much of a shock to their system and not worth the risk. It was often advice given to pregnant women by their obstetricians.

What must be understood about this information is was what the level of total misunderstanding there was by the physicians at the time, as well as by the entire medical and scientific community. It was at a time that there was a good chance that if a woman were to ask her physician if smoking was harmful to her baby, that the physician could have reached into his shirt pocket, pulled out a cigarette, took a few puffs while in deep contemplation and came back with the answer that smoking didn't really pose any real risk. The same kind of conversation could have been held between a man and his cardiologist or any person with almost any medical condition talking to his or her doctor. Back in the 1950's over half of the doctors in our country smoked.

What we know now about the dangers of smoking as it relates to many conditions makes it totally obvious to almost any health care professional in any field that smoking is deadly, even though in the past the lack of solid information caused the wrong advice to be standard fare.

We now have decades of experience with millions and millions of people successfully quitting smoking, the vast majority of them doing so by going cold turkey. It should be obvious to almost any one now that the dangers of quitting smoking is not what smokers need to be concerned with, it is the dangers they face if they do not quit smoking.

On a personal note, I have personally run over 4,500 people through cold turkey smoking programs for almost 30 years now. Out of those 4,500 people I only had two people who died during the two week period of the clinic. One was a younger man, probably in his thirties with severe heart disease and diabetes who was forced into the program by his wife and doctor because it was clear to both of them that he was in real danger of dying if he didn't quit smoking. Unfortunately, while the man's wife and doctor were both convinced that he was in immediate danger, the man himself didn't accept the risk for in fact, he did not quit smoking during that clinic. He was cheating throughout the program and his wife was not ever sure he had reduced his smoking at all from the first day of the program. He died on the fifth or sixth day.

The other death was from a man who was also in really bad shape, having just had major cardiac surgery, was still having ongoing problems with chronic heart failure and had a terrible prognosis coming in. His doctor had told him that he was a walking time bomb and he meant it in very literal terms. He died about ten days into the program. He had quit and had eased up in the withdrawal, was in fact very proud of the fact that he had quit and was happy with his decision to do so. I actually went to his funeral. His wife was very happy to see me there, and excitedly introduced me to a number of their family members and friends, explaining how I was the person who helped her husband to quit smoking. They were all very proud of the man and felt that he really was trying to give himself a fighting chance to live. That seemed very important to his loved ones at that time.

Other than these two cases, I have never encountered a person who had died during the quitting process, which is quite remarkable considering the state of health that many people who come to clinics are in.

Again, don't waste your energy on the fear of quitting. It is a baseless fear. If you spend time doing any real research on the effects of not quitting though, the fear that you will feel will be totally warranted for the magnitude of risk posed by smoking is tremendous. The good news is that all of the risks posed by smoking can be minimized by simply making and sticking to a personal commitment to never take another puff.


Joined: January 16th, 2003, 8:00 am

November 15th, 2006, 9:54 pm #14

No nicotine today just one day at a time becomes a comfortable freedom that is worth every moment of the temporary adjustment period. Truly.

Three years, ten months, three days, 6 hours, 53 minutes and 47 seconds. 33678 cigarettes not smoked, saving $6,735.78. Life saved: 16 weeks, 4 days, 22 hours, 30 minutes.


December 30th, 2009, 10:54 pm #15

No nicotine today, one day at a time.

Joined: November 11th, 2008, 7:22 pm

February 7th, 2012, 2:54 am #16

Cold Turkey More Effective Than Smoking Aids Written by  Javier Armstrong  - The Guardian | University of California, San Diego

UCSD School of Medicine researchers studying tobacco addiction found that the range of pharmaceutical and anti-smoking aids available in the last decade has not increased the number of successful quitters. Their results will be published in the Annual Review of Public Health.

The study, led by professor of family and preventive medicine John P. Pierce, reviewed studies of tobacco addiction conducted within the last 20 years.

Researchers analyzed the effectiveness of pharmaceutical drugs, as well as nicotine gum and the patch, but found none of these aids have been significantly successful.

“We looked at smokers that had quit before 35, before 50 and before 65,” Pierce said. “If you quit before 35, we think you can avoid as high as 90 percent of the consequences of smoking. If you quit before 50, you can avoid at least half of them, and if you quit before 65 you can avoid at least a quarter.”

According to the paper, increasing numbers of smokers successfully quit at different ages during the 20-year period analyzed. The number of people who quit before 35 was higher every year, but the numbers leveled off in the late 1990s, suggesting the number of successful quitters had plateaued.

The researchers noticed this trend within all three age groups, indicating that fewer people were successfully quitting.
“It isn’t that the drugs don’t work,” Pierce said. “It’s that people think they don’t have to try that hard anymore.”
Pierce said that there is evidence that pharmaceutical drugs such as the patch are successful in clinical trials, but the results are not showing up in the general population. He said that the data does not show there have been more quitters even though researchers are seeing more and more people using these products.

“Marketing says put on a patch and you’ll quit, but it’s a nicotine addiction — you can’t cure a nicotine addiction with nicotine,” Pierce said. “What you can do is dull the withdrawal symptoms while you do something else about it.
Pierce said his research showed that the most successful group of quitters are those who quit without any assistance.
“You must incorporate behavior change,” Pierce said. “You must build up the motivation — this is one of the hardest things you will ever do and then really go for it. Unless you’re doing that, the nicotine patch is probably not going to help you.” Pierce said that an increase in people who attempt to quit has not translated to higher success stories. The increased availability of quitting aids has not shown to be effective, according to Pierce.

“The policy at the moment says get a drug,” Pierce said. “Yet the results we found show that 60 percent of successful quitters do it on their own.” Pierce said the current policy is not beneficial because it discourages people from quitting on their own. “There will be a lot of discussion on this topic, at the next World Conference on Tobacco or Health,” Pierce said.

Last modified on Sunday February 05, 2012 - 3:59PM
Source Link:  The Guardian | University of California, San Diego
The Guardian UCSD  © Copyright 2012, All Rights Reserved

UC San Diego Researchers Review Cessation Studies and Call for Change in Policy John Pierce, PhD

Smoking is a major public health issue and quitting is the single most important thing smokers can do to improve their health.  In the 2012 edition of the prestigious Annual Review of Public Health, researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have reviewed the landscape of smoking cessation over the past 20 years.  During this time period, there have been improvements in pharmaceutical medications to aid cessation, and free telephone cessation coaching has become available in every state.  However, recent trends in smoking cessation are troubling to tobacco control researchers.

“For the past decade, attempts to quit smoking have increased, but the proportion of people who become successful quitters has gone down” said John P. Pierce, PhD, professor of Family and Preventive Medicine and director of Population Sciences at UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center.  “Widespread dissemination of cessation services has not led to an increase in the probability that a quit attempt will be successful."

The problem does not appear to be with the cessation services themselves. “Randomized trials continue to demonstrate that innovations in cessation assistance, such as the new text-to-quit service, increase success rates among smokers motivated to be part of clinical studies,” said Sharon Cummins, PhD, director of Evaluation with the California Smokers Helpline and a co-author on the study.  “Indeed, one study showed that heavier smokers are much more likely to quit successfully when a doctor actively monitors the quit attempt, pharmaceutical aids are used, and the smoker receives multiple coaching calls from a quitline service”.

However, recent evidence suggests that part of the problem may lie in how cessation aids are marketed by pharmaceutical companies:  many such ads suggest that quitting smoking may be as simple as putting on a patch.  It appears that younger smokers in particular are now more likely to underestimate the amount of work needed in order to quit smoking successfully. 

Traditionally, the majority of smokers who quit successfully have done so without assistance, and recent data suggests that this has not changed.  However, current national policy discourages unassisted quitting, advising clinicians to make sure smokers who want to quit do so with pharmaceutical assistance.  This policy may undermine smokers’ belief in their ability to quit on their own. 

The number of people who quit smoking successfully has stalled in the United States at every age. (graph)

Pierce and colleagues noted that some of the earliest texts in psychology – written more than 100 years ago – include chapters on breaking habits such as smoking.  In 1890, William James laid out a series of maxims that were widely recognized then and that still hold true today:  smokers need to make a strong resolution to change; they need to act quickly on that resolution; they will be more successful if they make a personal commitment to another to be successful; and finally, it is important to understand the danger of having even a single cigarette during a quit attempt.

The researchers suggest that policy makers join those in academia for a serious review of tobacco cessation policy.

In addition to Pierce, the UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center research team included Sharon E. Cummins, PhD, Martha M. White, Aimee Humphrey and Karen Messer, PhD.

Funding support for this study was provided by the Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program (TRDRP).

Media Contact Kim Edwards, kedwards@ucsd.edu, 619-543-6163


Joined: November 13th, 2008, 2:04 pm

March 1st, 2012, 6:44 pm #17


Joined: November 11th, 2008, 7:22 pm

March 24th, 2012, 12:44 pm #18

Letter to the Editor
Quitting smoking? Go cold turkey

John R. Polito, Goose Creek, S.C.

Saturday, March 24, 2012 | 2:01 a.m.

Cy Ryan’s March 19 online article, “TV ad campaign aimed at curbing tobacco use,” reviews the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s new hard-hitting quit-smoking campaign, which uses tragic tobacco-victim stories to motivate cessation. It’d be great if the campaign could reduce Nevada’s 3,300 annual smoking-related deaths or its 21 percent smoking rate, but it’s unlikely.

It isn’t that fear can’t motivate. It’s the failure of CDC to immediately channel that fear into a meaningful cessation opportunity. The new campaign pipelines motivated smokers to either SmokeFree.gov or 800-QUIT-NOW, where the primary objective is to get smokers to obtain and use the nicotine patch, gum, lozenge, spray, inhaler, Zyban or Chantix.

While approved quitting products clobber placebo controls in random clinical trials, they get clobbered by cold-turkey quitters in real-world population level studies. Current U.S. cessation policy has been heavily influenced by the pharmaceutical industry. Since 2000, U.S. cessation policy has stressed “medication” for “all” quitters unless contraindicated.

More Nevada long-term smokers quit smoking cold turkey each year than by all other methods combined. Sadly, the quitting-with-medication era, with its false “double your chances” promise, has brought successful cessation to its knees.

What sense does it make for the CDC to continue to discourage quitting cold turkey? The CDC either needs to suspend current cessation policy or clean house, employing a cessation team that doesn’t behave like pharmaceutical industry employees.

The author is a nicotine cessation educator and director of WhyQuit.com.

Las Vegas Sun letter to the editor source link 
http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2012/ma ... ld-turkey/

© Las Vegas Sun, 2012, All Rights Reserved