55: How to make a break

A Thousand Things to Talk About
A Thousand Things to Talk About
55: How to make a break


Today, we’re talking about how to make a break.

What’s better – a clean, cold-turkey break or a long stepping-down process?

Show notes and links:
The Decent Person’s Guide to Breaking Up (eHarmony)
The Truth About On-Again, Off-Again Couples (Psychology Today)
Does how you quit affect success? A comparison between abrupt and gradual methods using data from the International Tobacco Control Policy Evaluation Study. (PubMed)

Full episode text

Quitting could kill you. Quite literally. For some physiological addictions, quitting means denying your brain or body the very chemicals it has come to depend on, and that withdrawal can be deadly. However, the symptoms of detoxing, as awful as they are, are usually not quite so direct.

Yet several studies have found that, at least when it comes to quitting smoking, cold turkey may actually give you a better chance of success.

Which makes the choice between going cold turkey and stepping down a very difficult one, no matter what kind of addiction or behavior you might want to change. Ask eHarmony, and they’ll tell you that cold turkey is the only way to go when it comes to breaking up a relationship. Yet one study out of Kansas State University found that between 23 and 37 percent of post-college couples engage in “relationship cycling”, or “on again, off again” relationships.

Part of the consideration when debating cold turkey or tapering off is, of course, what you’re trying to stop doing. But another may be a simple question of choosing your pain – after all, there will be pain no matter what. So the question is what kind of doses you can handle. So what kind of process do you prefer?