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Smoking cold turkey: Tips, coping mechanisms, and more

Tips, coping mechanisms, and more

People may find it challenging to quit smoking, but the health benefits outweigh the discomfort of withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms include trouble sleeping, depression, and mouth ulcers.

Quitting cold turkey is one way of stopping smoking. With this technique, people could cease smoking completely without using nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs) such as patches or gum.

Smoking can become an addiction and cause serious health problems. More than half of adult cigarette smokers try to quit every year. However, less than 10% quit successfully in their first year.

This article explores what it means to quit smoking cold turkey, how successful it is, what to expect, and where to find help and support.

Share on PinterestMalte Mueller/Getty Images; Umar Razak Razali/EyeEm/Getty Images

A person may quit smoking completely or by gradually reducing their use of tobacco and nicotine. Over time, they can cut down on cigarettes or other tobacco products.

In contrast, quitting smoking cold turkey means stopping smoking all at once, rather than gradually, and without the help of NRTs, such as nicotine patches.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the success rate of quitting smoking in the United States is less than 10%.

They also state that 7.5% of adults successfully quit smoking in 2018. This figure does not distinguish between those who quit smoking cold turkey and those who used NRT.

A 2016 study found that quitting cold turkey is more successful than gradually cutting down on nicotine intake. This research followed up with people at 4 weeks and 6 months after they quit smoking. Those who stopped abruptly were more successful at remaining nonsmokers compared with those who quit gradually using NRTs.

The study also found that people who preferred to quit smoking gradually were less likely to be successful, even if they quit cold turkey. However, the people in this study were not heavy smokers.

According to another study from 2017, people who smoke 21 or more cigarettes a day are more likely to quit by using NRT and stopping gradually.

A person quits cold turkey by stopping smoking immediately.

For example, some people may decide not to buy more cigarettes after finishing their current pack. Upon making this decision, they have begun quitting.

When quitting cold turkey, a person does not introduce any more nicotine into their body. Nicotine is addictive, and once people stop using products that contain this substance, they may enter a state of withdrawal.

However, by quitting cold turkey, the body expels all nicotine within 48 hours. The following table describes the health benefits over time when giving up smoking.

Time since quittingHealth benefits
20 minutesPulse returns to normal.
8 hoursNicotine within the body is reduced by 90%, and carbon monoxide levels have dropped.
24 hoursLungs begin clearing tar and other smoking debris.
48 hoursThe body has removed all traces of nicotine, while the sense of taste and smell have improved.
72 hoursIt becomes easier to breathe, and energy levels have increased.
2–12 weeksCirculation improves.
1 monthSkin appears less gray and more refreshed.
3–9 monthsReduced coughing and wheezing.
1 yearThe risk of heart attack drops by half.
10 yearsThe risk of lung cancer is reduced by around half compared with a person who smokes.
15 yearsThe risk of heart attack is the same for a person who has never smoked.

Because nicotine is addictive, people who quit smoking tend to experience withdrawal.

Withdrawal symptoms are temporary, but they can be uncomfortable and sometimes severe.

However, nicotine withdrawal does not cause any health issues that other addictive substances can trigger.

The table below lists some common withdrawal symptoms and how long they can last.

Withdrawal symptomHow long it lasts
light-headednessless than 48 hours
disturbed sleepless than 1 week
difficulty concentratingless than 2 weeks
nicotine cravingsmore than 2 weeks
depressionless than 4 weeks
restlessnessless than 4 weeks
irritability or aggressionless than 4 weeks
mouth ulcerscan be longer than 4 weeks
constipationcan be longer than 4 weeks
increase in appetitemore than 10 weeks

Quitting cold turkey may be as simple as deciding not to consume another cigarette or nicotine product. Other people may need to plan to maximize their chances of success.

The CDC suggest the following tips to ensure the best chance of quitting:

  • Think about the reasons to quit — whether for friends and family, improved health, or other reasons.
  • Make a decision to stop and pick a quit day.
  • Make a list of smoking triggers to avoid for the first few weeks, if possible.
  • Come up with a list of activities to do when experiencing cravings.
  • Share the intention of quitting with friends and family and get their support.

One way people cope with quitting smoking cold turkey is learning to recognize the triggers that make them want to smoke. They can then consciously use coping mechanisms to resist these triggers.

There are several types of triggers, each with its coping mechanisms.

It is possible to avoid some of these triggers, but some people cannot prevent them all.

If a person cannot avoid certain triggers, the CDC recommend the following:

  • getting support from quit groups, experts, or friends and family
  • remembering the reasons for quitting
  • reflecting on how much money a person has saved so far
  • staying busy by exercising or using the hands and mouth
  • going to a public place where people cannot smoke
  • performing a good deed

Most people who quit smoking will experience certain withdrawal symptoms, such as anxiety or irritability.

The table below lists ways of coping with and treating these symptoms.

There are several advantages and disadvantages of quitting smoking cold turkey.


  • removes all nicotine from the body sooner
  • a person benefits sooner from being nicotine-free


  • may be more difficult than using NRTs
  • alternative methods may be more effective for some, such as heavy smokers
  • withdrawal symptoms may be more intense

Quitting cold turkey is not the only way to quit smoking.

NRTs and even prescription medication can help people stop. Alternative methods for quitting smoking include:

  • The nicotine patch: Available as an over-the-counter (OTC) patch, which a person applies on the skin each day, removing it at night or after 24 hours. It releases a steady supply of nicotine during the day, while a person gradually reduces the nicotine with different patch strengths.
  • Nicotine gum: Available in varying strengths, this releases nicotine when chewed. People can chew a new piece of gum every 1–2 hours.
  • Nicotine lozenge: This is available OTC in two strengths and works the same way as nicotine gum.
  • Nicotine nasal spray: This is a prescription-only NRT for people to inhale when they have an urge to smoke.
  • Nicotine inhaler: This prescription-only device allows another way to consume nicotine, which enters via the throat’s mucous membranes.
  • Bupropion: This is a prescription antidepressant that may reduce nicotine cravings by blocking the pleasure signals that smokers feel when using tobacco. People can use bupropion alongside NRTs.
  • Varenicline: This prescription medication may reduce nicotine cravings. It prevents nicotine from attaching to brain receptors, helping make tobacco less satisfying.
  • Behavioral support: Various social groups or friends and family may encourage quitting smoking.
  • Alternative methods: People may want to try alternative therapies, such as hypnosis, acupuncture, acupressure, laser therapy, and electrostimulation, to help reduce nicotine withdrawal symptoms.

There are various ways for people to find support for quitting smoking. Resources include:

  • apps
  • texting programs
  • professional services

People may also wish to join a research study on quitting smoking. Ask a healthcare provider for more information.

A person who wishes to quit smoking can speak with a healthcare provider for support and advice.

Quitting smoking cold turkey can be difficult, but the health benefits are worth going through the withdrawal symptoms.

If a person finds quitting cold turkey does not work for them, many alternatives may be effective.

Dangers of Quitting Smoking Cold Turkey

With New Year’s right around the corner, you’re probably thinking up your latest resolutions for renewed health and vigor. If you smoke, quitting probably tops your list every year. It’s no secret that trying to stop smoking is hard. Most people try and fail several times before finally recovering. It’s not because you lack willpower. Nicotine, the main psychoactive ingredient in tobacco, is highly addictive.

Going cold turkey seems to some like the easiest way to quit smoking. However, there are many drawbacks and dangers you may experience with the cold turkey method.

  • Why Is It So Hard to Quit Cold Turkey?
  • Is Quitting Smoking Cold Turkey Dangerous?
  • Side Effects of Quitting Smoking Cold Turkey
  • Symptoms of Nicotine Withdrawl When Quitting Cold Turkey
  • Effective Ways to Quit Smoking

Why Is It So Hard to Quit Cold Turkey?

Nicotine addiction is the main reason people find it so difficult to reduce or quit smoking.

Quitting cold turkey means to stop using all tobacco products and fight your way through any withdrawal symptoms that arise. Yet, if you stop using nicotine all at once, this action can disrupt your body’s chemical balance. You may experience intense physical and psychological side effects. Nicotine is a stimulant drug that causes mild stimulation by boosting dopamine levels and activating the brain’s reward center.

When people use tobacco products for an extended time, they may experience nicotine dependence and a huge list of serious health problems.

Is Quitting Smoking Cold Turkey Dangerous?

Quitting smoking cold turkey does not put your life or health in danger. However, unpleasant and sometimes painful withdrawal symptoms can seriously impact your emotional and physical wellbeing during the recovery process.

Each year, fewer than one in 10 adults are able to successfully quit smoking. One reason may be that most of those who try to quit rely on willpower alone to ditch the habit. Quitting cold turkey presents many risks to a successful recovery, including:

  • Intense cravings
  • Psychological symptoms of withdrawal
  • Cheating, such as sneaking a cigarette or two
  • Giving up and returning to one’s old smoking habits

Side Effects of Quitting Smoking Cold Turkey

What happens to your body when you stop smoking cold turkey? Some people experience mild withdrawal symptoms for a few days. Others struggle with intense cravings and side effects for weeks.

You can expect withdrawal symptoms to set in anywhere from four to 24 hours after your last cigarette. For most people, withdrawal peaks about three days after quitting, gradually tapering off over the next three to four weeks. It’s not uncommon to feel intense cravings when you encounter familiar places or situations where you used to smoke.

While some people can successfully ward off withdrawal symptoms and cravings, others find these sensations too much to bear.

Symptoms of Nicotine Withdrawal When Quitting Cold Turkey

The symptoms of nicotine withdrawal are twofold — with both physical and psychological components. Some of the unpleasant physical side effects of nicotine withdrawal when quitting cold turkey include:

  • Restlessness
  • Headaches
  • Tremors
  • Sweating
  • Digestive problems, such as constipation
  • Increased appetite
  • Cramping
  • Sleep disturbances

The physical effects of quitting may only last for a few days while the nicotine leaves your body. Yet, the psychological impact of nicotine withdrawal can last much longer. These symptoms include:

  • Intense nicotine cravings
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Frustration
  • Anxiety
  • Depressed mood

Effective Ways to Quit Smoking

Quitting cold turkey isn’t the only way to stop smoking. Many other methods address the physical and psychological effects of quitting nicotine. Here are some other ways people have found success.

1. Nicotine Replacement Therapy

Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) is a method of quitting that involves using small amounts of nicotine to wean off the addictive substance. You gradually reduce your dosage of nicotine over time until no further treatment is needed. Examples of NRT include:

  • Skin patches
  • Chewing gum
  • Nasal or mouth sprays
  • Inhalators
  • Tablets

While NRT is a popular and often successful method of treating nicotine addiction, some people still experience withdrawal symptoms.

2. Medication

If you are having difficulty quitting, you can talk to your doctor who may be able to prescribe a specialized medication to help. These drugs can help reduce cravings and block the rewarding effects of smoking.

3. Counseling

Though NRTs and medication can help reduce your physical dependence on nicotine, these methods don’t deal with addiction’s psychological side effects. Counseling, in conjunction with other techniques, may be a valuable addition. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is one option that helps you learn more about why your smoke — including how to address and combat triggers.

Using Nicotine in Conjunction With Other Substances? We Can Help.

Smoking is dangerous. It’s linked to a variety of severe health conditions, and it can also put your loved ones at risk through secondhand smoke. It also can be used as a bandaid for mental health concerns such as depression or other addictions like opioid dependency. If you would like to learn more about breaking free from addiction and addressing the root problems the team at Gateway Foundation can help. We invite you to contact us online today.

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Is there a big celebration coming up or do you need to gather a noisy group of friends or relatives around the table? A whole carcass of a farm turkey will become the main dish in any company.

It does not require any special culinary talent to prepare it. Such meat is prepared in any way. It can be baked in the oven, either whole or chopped into portioned pieces, or you can put the carcass on a spit and fry it on the grill. The dish will turn out tasty enough after preliminary pickling.

Turkey has one unusual feature – the white flesh of the bird easily “adjusts” to the taste of other types of meat, and if you mix turkey with chicken or beef, it will be difficult to guess that there is a turkey in the dish.

Farmhouse turkey has a number of health benefits. Ideal for diet food, contains a low amount of fat and carbohydrates, rich in protein. It contains trace elements important for strengthening the immune system and normalizing the functioning of all organs – iron, potassium, magnesium, iodine, calcium and sodium.

The high content of phosphorus should be singled out separately, because in the meat of this bird it is almost the same as in fish. All these qualities are present if the carcass is fresh and grown on a Halal farm. Production of FH “Muslim” fully complies with these characteristics.

  • Rinse a fresh bird carcass thoroughly under water, wipe dry inside and out, cover with foil and refrigerate. A frozen turkey needs to be thawed slowly, either indoors or in cold water that needs to be changed periodically. Remember that a bird weighing 9kg can be defrosted for two days.
  • Never cook a cold turkey as only meat at room temperature will be tender and juicy. Take the bird out of the refrigerator an hour before cooking.
  • It is better to pre-marinate the turkey before roasting to make it more tender and tasty. As a marinade, water, honey, spices, herbs, lemon, garlic are used. The turkey should be in the marinade for up to two days.
  • Instead of marinating, you can rub the carcass inside and out with a mixture of garlic, salt, olive oil and rosemary, leaving it to soak for several hours.
  • Stuff the turkey with stuffing (not too tight) and sew up the opening.
  • How to cook a turkey in the oven so that the meat is juicy? Place the bird breast down on a baking sheet, in a sleeve or in foil, set the temperature to 170-190 degrees and bake, pouring the resulting juice on the carcass.
  • Roasting time is calculated by the weight of the meat (including the filling) – add 18 minutes for every 450 grams.

How and how much to cook a turkey to make it juicy



June 13, 2020

All the secrets of cooking thighs, drumsticks, fillets and even offal.

How to choose a turkey

A quality chilled turkey has a uniform natural color. Breast fillet – pale pink, lighter than other parts; thigh fillet – a little darker; lower legs are distinguished by a more saturated, reddish tint; fat and skin are light. The heart of the bird is dark red or red-brown; liver – red-brown; stomachs are red-pink.

Both meat and offal should be fairly firm and only slightly moist, without sticky mucus and signs of frizziness. If they are too flabby and soft, they may have already been frozen and thawed one or more times. After light pressure on a quality turkey, the trace is quickly smoothed out, and if this does not happen, it is better to refuse the purchase.

Chilled turkey drumstick. Photo: AndreySt/Depositphotos

The smell of good meat is natural, not sharp, without hints of mustiness and any extraneous flavors.

When choosing a frozen turkey, make sure that the package contains as little ice as possible.

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How to prepare a turkey

If the product was stored in the freezer, transfer it to the refrigerator compartment a few hours before cooking so that it has time to become soft.

Rinse the bird under running water. If there are any traces of feathers on the skin, be sure to remove them. To get less fatty meat and broth, try to remove the skin. If you are simmering a fillet, pour boiling water over it before cooking – this will make the bird juicier.

Washed and chilled turkey wings. Photo: yelenayemchuk/Depositphotos

Remove fat and blood vessels from the hearts, fat and bile ducts from the liver, remove the film from the stomachs. Also make sure there is no blood left on the offal. To remove it from the hearts, press them with your fingers while rinsing, or cut them open like a book.

Take note 🍜

  • 10 recipes for juicy turkey cutlets

How long to boil the turkey

A lot depends on what part of the bird you are cooking. Liver, fillets and wings will cook the fastest.

It is also worth considering which method you choose. In a pressure cooker, the bird will need less time than in a saucepan, slow cooker or double boiler.

The size of the turkey parts also plays a role. So, a fillet cut into small pieces will cook about 10 minutes faster than a whole one. And, for example, large wings or drumsticks will cook 10-15 minutes longer than average ones.

Boiled turkey fillet. Photo: Valentinjukov/Depositphotos

To make sure it’s ready, pierce the product with a knife or fork. The tip should easily enter, and the juice that stands out should be transparent.

If you want a richer broth, soak the turkey in cold water and increase the cooking time by 15-20 minutes.

Use the tips 🍖

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How to cook a turkey on the stove

Boil water, add salt, pepper and other spices to taste. You can also throw a whole peeled onion with carrots. Place the turkey in a saucepan and cook over low heat. Remove the foam that forms on the surface.

The turkey will be done in about this time:

  • thigh – 50-60 minutes;
  • drumstick – 50-60 minutes;
  • stomach – 60-80 minutes;
  • wings – 40 minutes;
  • liver – 25-30 minutes;
  • heart – 90 minutes;
  • Thigh, drumstick or breast fillet – 30-40 minutes.

Learn the secrets 🍳

  • 10 oven roasted turkey recipes

How to cook a turkey in a multicooker

Place the poultry parts in the machine bowl. Pour in water, add salt and spices to taste, as well as onions and carrots if desired. Close the lid and select the “Extinguishing” mode.

Cook a turkey in the slow cooker for about:

  • thigh – 50-60 minutes;
  • drumstick – 50-60 minutes;
  • stomach – 60-80 minutes;
  • wings – 40-45 minutes;
  • liver – 25-30 minutes;
  • heart – 80-90 minutes;
  • Thigh, drumstick or breast fillet – 45-50 minutes.

Save 🍗

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How to cook a turkey in a double boiler

Dry the washed parts of the bird with paper towels. Salt and add spices to taste. Then you can leave the bird to marinate in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours – this will make it even tastier. Or immediately put in a steamer bowl.

Turn on the machine and cook the turkey just long enough to be cooked:

  • thigh – 60-80 minutes;
  • drumstick – 60-80 minutes;
  • stomach – 90 minutes or longer;
  • wings – 40 minutes;
  • liver – 35-40 minutes;
  • heart – 90 minutes;
  • Thigh, drumstick or breast fillet – 40-50 minutes.