I don’t know the origin of this expression, however, in its application the meaning is that of ceasing behaviour which is compulsive, obsessive, and/or addictive in nature.
It is usually applied to ceasing to smoke, drink, gamble, etc. totally with no partial use or indulgence.
So when we are talking about self-gratification as a method for relieving stress and anxiety, is the method of ‘cold turkey’ effective? Does it work?
Statistics for smoking cessation for example, for which I’m familiar, is that approx. 5-15% of individuals who attempt to quit smoking will succeed to stay smoke free for more than a year.
That’s a 85-95% failure rate.
When using a combined method of nicotine replacement and zyban (prescription drug) the success rate was increased to 35% after one year.
It is difficult to find studies which follow ex-smokers for longer periods.
Success rates for quitting alcohol consumption which is excessive don’t fare much better. Studies show that failure rates for those in A.A. is zero, because there is a remission factor of 5% annually anyway it’s difficult if not impossible to measure the impact of cessation programs on alcoholics. That means that 5% will quit just because they want to.
The statistics for recidivism of A.A. members showed a five times greater likelihood of increased binge drinking because of the A.A. premise that :alcoholics are powerless over alcohol, somehow justifying continuing to drink excessively once having taken that first drink.
The reasons for quitting drinking can be multiple including the most common one of “tired of being sick and tired”.
There is an estimate statistic which states that over ten years probably 50% of alcoholics will stop drinking without A.A. or other support groups. However there are continuously new drinkers adding to the statistics and the numbers are swelled by those who quit for a time then fall back into excessive drinking patterns which jeopardize health, work, and relationships.
The destructive consequences of obsessive-compulsive behaviour patterns costs society and individuals great amounts of grief, pain, and suffering.
All efforts to prevent the development of excessive consumption of food, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, should be made to apprehend possible future casualties before it gets problematic.
These patterns are beginning to manifest earlier with young pre-teens and teenagers as young as six or seven years of age in those families where emotional and mental conditions exist for neglect, abandonment, and abuse.
The need for outside intervention is paramount to save the immense social and personal costs of addiction.
Schools need better monitoring and reporting methods to best identify, target, and re-direct individuals who demonstrate symptoms of obsessive-compulsive behaviour patterns as means of relieving stress and anxiety, usually because of dysfunctional home situations.