Withdrawal…An Uncomfortable Time

One of the most uncomfortable feelings we go through is that part called, WITHDRAWAL. If I wasn’t acting out what was I suppose to do instead? What was I to do? All I wanted to do was stop the pain and acting out was the only thing I knew how to do. But then comes abstinence…“the ability to abstain from inner circle, bottom line behaviors.” Of course I’m then left with a void in time. What am I to do? I didn’t understand what to do until my sponsor walked me through withdrawal. I had such cravings to act out.  I had physical aches and pains. I remember feelings of desperation and fear closing in around me. I had become irritable, filled with anger and sometimes had tantrums of rage all because of withdrawal.

My sponsor would just say, breathe, relax, take in the moment. Say the serenity
prayer over and over. I remember feeling that it wasn’t worth it. The pain is
just too great. The truth is, it is worth it, your worth it, I’m worth it and
feelings of desperation and pain shall pass. I kept repeating step number two,
“came to believe a power greater than myself would restore me to
sanity” and then I was told to turn it over to God and let my feelings go.
Let go and let God became my mantra. To this day I still remember those
desperate times in withdrawal, but what I remember most is how good I felt
after “they” left. You’re worth it, and so was I. Instead of dwelling on
the fact I wasn’t acting out I started learning new behaviors, calling my
brothers in recovery, reading step work, journaling, even spending more time
with the one I love. There is an answer to withdrawal; abstinence and beginning
a new life.

23 thoughts on “Withdrawal…An Uncomfortable Time

  1. I need to just read and reread this one. I have many feelings about withdrawl as well as relapse, but for now I am learning to sit still in this massive pain and believe that you believe and you KNOW this pain will pass. I will write more later, this post is too precious to me not to. Ally

  2. I remember how horrible my withdrawal(s) were. It’s not just the cravings but the “not numbing” of the feelings that was most uncomfortable. Stress has always been my biggest trigger, and when I felt stress I acted out to numb it. Withdrawal taught me that I had to learn other, healthier ways to handle stress, and through the program I did.

    One other very important thing: I also learned that the cravings pass, and over time they become less frequent and less difficult to deal with.

  3. Withdrawl…. it can be such torture… I have a very good girlfriend, as a matter of fact, we were using partners. Men, drugs, alcohol, we used together. She has been clean and sober for ten years now, off of EVERYTHING, as a matter of fact I went to my first SLAA meeting with her in Arizona in 1993, I was like what the hell is this all about.

    Anyway she shared with me that she was blessed that the longing and the compulsion was lifted from her; but to see me tortured by my addict being so strong and so diligent about killing me it makes her stronger in her recovery.

    She is an amazing support because she knows me pre SAA and post SAA and pre marriage and currently being married, pre children and now mommy mode. She is gentle with me when I cannot be gentle with myself. And she assures me that at some point the withdrawl will pass and I will let go of wanting to act out to deal with my life and my stresses.

  4. I am in trouble. I am in trouble and I am in pain. I am so very closed off at the moment, I am talking to people but it really is only superficial. I am “picking” up my other addictions right now as I am attempting to really close off my sex addiction exits. It’s really crazy I don’t feel like I am crawling out of my skin like I have in the past but I feel so damn restless, nothing is keeping my attention I am having a very hard time focusing on anything but I absolutely must. I am starting to use my sons to not look at myself right now also. We all have stuff, I am no different. But I get sucked into the “poor me” look at all I have to deal with.

    Today, right now, this morning I really do not feel like this pain is going to pass. I have heard a saying, “Don’t quit before the miracle.” I feel like every time I have relapsed in the last 5 months it has been a case of quitting before the miracle.

    Anyway this is the meeting after the meeting and I have to get this out of me somehow and if I am having a hard time being honest in person I know I can be honest through the distance and safety of the typed word.

    Maybe someday this pain will pass. Ally

  5. Bowling works. I used bowling as an exercise to get out of my own head yesterday and not think about the frustrations of withdrawal. I had a really amazing family day yesterday. While that is what I have craved my WHOLE life, my addict does not know what to do with that and she gets very twitchy…. kind of like using a squirt gun on the wicked witch of the west… wish I could just dump a whole bucket of water on my addict and be done with her…. THANKS everyone. Ally

  6. I am feeling the withdrawal effect intensely. I am newly sober and having a very difficult time with it. I have been clean for about three weeks but the pain inside is growing. Please give me some wisdom to understand this and get through it.

    How much time must pass? I am being tortured by this beast!

  7. As a very good brother in recovery says, “It will take until I am sick and tired of being sick and tired, and then when I am sick and tired I will be willing to go to any length. As you can see I have posted often in this particular thread. Withdrawal has been a living hell for me. I came to the rooms October 29, 2007 and I have two days abstinent, clean and sober. God willing I am FINALLY done. I have contaminated the water as my sponsor says, I have made it so even if I want to act out, which I do on a daily basis, it just doesn’t work for me. I have had to become completely willing to go to any length… the half measures have been killing me and that too is why this beast has been torturing me.

    The one thing that people keep telling me is to keep coming back, to fill my life with recovery instead of pain and shame. For me it has been nearly a year but the one thing I have done over and over and over is I keep going back to an actually SAA room and I share as honestly as I can when I am there. Keep coming back. Ally

  8. I am going through withdrawal right now. I know that I am my own worst enemy. But when I am willing to go to any lengths to stay sober, then I stay sober. And without my program, my sponsor, and my 12 step brother support, I wouldn’t make it. I can see now that I want everything to go my way. Especially with the people in my life. I want people to act and talk the way I want them too; and when they don’t then I want to medicate with my addiction. Sobriety is much better, but I have to stay sober to enjoy it.

  9. I want to say, “here I am again”, but it is not really again. I have never allowed myself to feel the reality of withdrawal. Today is my 6th day 100% sober from ALL my bottom-lines. Today has been tough, today I have wanted to turn to the comfort I get from surfing online. But I am pushing through it, I am functioning and staying in the moment. I have been really present for my family today even when I am not feeling patient. Is it easy, NO freaking way! But I remember back on my first post on this thread in August I was trying so hard to stay away from an acting out partner and was just having NO success…. it has been a while now since my last slip with that bottom-line/person. I NEVER thought I was going to be able to give him up. So far so good, I still think about him, but I have changed my phone number, blocked my texting and lucky for me he has not tried contacting me. Which brings me to this aspect of my withdrawal, if I can use this program to stay away from him, I MUST use this program for the more insidious aspects the internet. If I am EVER going to put any time together at all I must completely break from aspects of the internet that are intriguing to me, the ALWAYS lead me down a progressive and spiraling path. Today is not an easy day but today is a grateful day.

  10. I am at a new and different phase of my withdrawal, FINALLY. I got a blindsiding email today from an ex-partner. I was able to delete it right away, delete his address right away and put it out of my head, (for the most part). But now when the craving is there I cannot contact him because I just don’t have the information. What is different about my withdrawal this time is when I am feeling good, and in the spirit of recovery I can do what I need to, to take care of myself now for the moments that I can’t later.

    Cravings, desires, wanting and longing I fear are always going to be with me, but it is what I do with the moments when I am free of their grip that help me when they do try and grab a hold of me again.

    For a new place, this is really really cool. I did not think I would EVER and I mean EVER feel this kind of relief and gratitude.

    Thank you God and the men and women (yes there are a few of us) in this program.

  11. Three days of hopeless sobbing. Then despondency like I’ve never felt before. My doctors were concerned to the point of considering committing me.

    Yes, I really wanted to go back. Go back to my addiction, like always. But by some miracle and with the help of my sponsor, it passed. The fourth morning I awoke and there was this really weird feeling that I actually might be ok. It was so new and foreign to me that it felt uncomfortable, almost nauseating.

    I began to doubt it. I began to think I better get the hell back to my addiction before this feeling gets turned upside down. Before it has a chance to abandon me, to be stolen from me, to be crushed by some accident, some misfortune, some let down.

    That’s when I really had to push back. I kept doing what I had been told and it really helped. I kept putting God, as if he were some physical object here on earth, between me and my addiction. It worked for me. Every time I wanted to go back, I’d visualize God wedged between me and my addiction, like a big, unmovable boulder. I had to keep putting him there. I had to focus. I had to stick with the singular image. If I was beginning a ritual, beginning to trigger, beginning to wonder what it would be like to go back, I’d visualize God as a single boulder – blocking my path. Slowly the urges got fewer, less strong and farther from each other in time.

    I still get the feeling that I want to go back. And I know that there will be times where it will seem the only place again to turn. I also know that turning it over to God with my visualization of him as the unmovable boulder between me and my addiction will work. I continue to pray every day that I won’t forget.

    The next painful phase of withdrawal for me was seeing in real time what my addiction had always suppressed. I was able to feel bad. To feel sad. Sad mostly for myself. And then it got worse. I was beginning to feel the pain of the others I had hurt in my disease. On the fourth day I awake absolutely despondent. I felt there was no way out. I journal, but I was crying so hard, I couldn’t really write. So I’d stop and cry some more. The despondency was back.

    It was hard to remind myself of what I’d been told. It will pass. I couldn’t see myself pulling out of the despondency.
    Winston Churchill had it right when he said “When you’re going through hell, keep going….”

    And, as promised, it passed. About five days later. I still sob every day, but it’s a good sob. A cleansing, not so much a withdrawal. The sadness is interlaced with some joy now! Wow, joy! Wow, I hadn’t felt that since maybe when I was 7.

    The other side of hell is there. I only wished I had read the posts above BEFORE I went through withdrawal!!!!!!!

  12. I am a success! That’s how cocky I felt in the past when I stopped acting out until the next time in my pre-program days of acting out. I liken it to the times I quit smoking cigarettes which was easy to this. I just kept throwing away half full packs of cigarettes when I got into a coughing fit and after about 100 times, I stopped for good. Were quitting acting out in sex addiction so simple. (I said simple, not easy.) I can’t throw away my sexuality, the images that appear in my mind, the desirable woman who suddenly appears around a corner and lights the fuse in my mind until it can explode in an episode of acting out, alone.
    An alcoholic needs a drink; a junkie needs a fix, a gambling addict a casino, a debt addict a credit card, a kleptomaniac, a store. For me, my computer, my bed, and time alone. I am dealing with withdrawal right now by being here, posting on this rather than on a website playing roles with someone who is acting out with me. She may be an addict too. I hope not because I would not want anyone to have to do this as I do which is in reality against my will. I choose to do it, but once begun trying to stop is always the same, I can’t. I will renew my program one day at a time, daily, with the help of my higher power and my sponsor.

    Thanks for reading,

    God love you.

  13. Since the posting above I have hit bottom. I did not let go of the cockiness, or the arrogance. I still did not follow the steps right. I have now hit bottom and will be moving to a half way house where I hope that I will free my mind of the toxic thoughts that keep me in the bubble that has once again come between me and my recovery. God has a plan and for me this is it. I love Him for this and I ask His forgiveness for not fully giving my will to Him. I ask the same of my sponsor, and my wonderful wife whose heart I have broken again and who once again is giving me a chance to recover from this illness which has me in its grip.

  14. I felt the pain and pull to act out caused by withdrawal immediately upon entering recovery. Withdrawal gnawed at me daily for the first thirty days. I felt crazy and certain that I was not going to make it. After all this was “the way I am”, “the thing that I was meant to do”, it is part of me”.

    How can I just stop? It did not seem possible to recover.

    Time heals all as they say, and here I am today withdrawal free. Not to say my disease does not grab me at times, but now having survived the withdrawals, I realize I can live sober and not act out. I realize the lie of my addiction, and know I do not need to give in.

    The truth is addiction and acting out will take me back to a place of pain and despair. I feel good today. I do not want to go back to that place, and today, post withdrawals; I can see clearly enough to understand I do not have to return.

  15. It seems incredible for me that after so many decades of constant acting out, after using sex as my constant companion, in reality or in fantasy, that this old friend shows up as seldom as he does. I have not cheated or flirted in 6 months – the longest period of my adult life. I don’t think that it is any tribute to me or my discipline. I think the pain of the last disclosures has finally pounded its lesson into me. This kind of acting out will kill me or others if continued.

    It feels good to not be driven for this time by my addiction. God has been good to me for letting me and my somewhat patient girl friend have the intensity of suffering for such an extended time. It truly is making me understand, at a deep level, that there is a better way to live. Any way is better than the sex addict’s way. I hear about intimacy and new ways to experience love and friendship – I haven’t personally experienced them yet, but I look forward to it, and I know that it has to be better than this.

    I’m thankful for my H.P. and my new trusted friends for guiding me through this horrific swamp. I can’t wait to get to the other side.

  16. OK, here is where I left off. Other than the past couple days, my last post appears to be end of February. That should tell me how off my program I was. And I paid the price for it. Interesting that the topic I need to start with to get back on track where I left off is withdrawal. I am feeling a little of that right now. After coming off a week of acting out I am having a few withdrawal symptoms. But nothing strong enough to make me want to act out again. It is not worth it. I put too much at risk. So for now I need to use the tools that I have to help me surrender to the withdrawal and move through it. Posting about it is one thing. Getting off the computer and getting to bed is another. I am going to do that right now because I am tired and tired and computer for me are not a good match. So for now, good night.

  17. Thanks for all you previous blog shares! I am not in a strong withdrawal but I know that I am vulnerable as I look at my day and the things that need to be done. I get overwhelmed. This is and has been the initial moments when I have decided in the past to just take a quick dip in the pool of addiction. Instead I made calls and prayed. I’m not on cloud nine. But I am not in some stupor with another 3 hours wasted and a ton of excuses why I’m late for something. My concern now is “acting in”. This is a precursor to acting out. It primes me: feeling sorry for myself, abandoned, victim, “I try so hard but nothing good happens to me” or “still clients won’t give me what I need and deserve,” and the one I got caught in last night: comparing myself to others and getting jealous and thinking about those clients who have not used my services and wishing them some sort of just punishment for not appreciating me. Ha-ha. Thank God I can see how silly that sounds now that I’ve written it! Thanks for reading

  18. WOW, Being new and not having any idea what I am facing but feeling a pain that I never felt putting down the drugs and alcohol and cig’s in the last three years. I sit here in desperation wanting to act out so bad.
    The pain had let up the last two days, and now I have such an erg to go to out. I am going to ride this wave and take the words of you who have been here and trust that I will not die from these tears and feelings and it will pass and come again and pass. And if I can be strong, listen, learn and pray and reach out to you, I will be OK. That is the hardest part to reach out to you and not feel I have to give myself away. And trust in god and you who have passed through this pain and are living and happy. That is all I have been wanting since I was a child, is to be happy and really live. I know it’s out there because you say it is through what some call God,,, and that is one thing I do have to my advantage ,is I believe in that, whatever that ( GOD ) might be. Thank you for this place and your words. You might have saved my life tonight. I feel better now.

  19. It’s funny I didn’t realize when I came on here that I was going to end up in the withdrawal segment of this blog, but continued even though I had read it before and not remembering my comment, or that I had. Things are changing I am having days, whole days that I can concentrate on the things I should be doing and getting them done and feel happy. This is very different than the recent past. I’m finding in just holding on and having faith and trying to do the things I’m being asked are paying off. Yes the waves of extreme pain are having less power over me and for now are so much quieter.
    In the very beginning I truly did not think it was going to hurt as much as it did. I was not prepared TO FEEL what I did. But it took that to realize just how much power this (ADDICTION) HAS over me. I was told to be gentle on myself and talk to others and just keep coming back. Those words hurt (JKCB) and I thought it was sarcasm and they were making fun of me. But I am doing it anyway and I am LEARING so much by coming back. I am not the outsider that I THOUGHT I was and I am TRULY not alone. I realize now I never was. That thing I call GOD has been with me my whole life telling me in a quiet voice))) when you’re ready there is another way (((.
    It’s not easy some days but I know it’s not going to take me 40 years to climb out. I am finding my way already. It’s not one minute at a time today, its one day at a time and that is all I have is today this moment. With much love and thanks to you who are showing me the way.
    A special thanks to you Ally, Oh and GOD ;)

  20. I feel I dont have any options , except to act out. But I need to let the day, hour or minute pass one at a time, and do the next right thing. This means picking up the phone and calling someone, or saying the serenity prayer over and over or whatever else it takes. I also feel sometimes that the pain is not worth it, but I truly need to believe that I am worth it. As for the time I will get back, it is the time I have been running away from doing responsible things: attending meetings, doing step work, taking care of my children, spending time with my wife, catching up on work and not procrastinating. I notice that my most stressful day in sobriety is actually better than my most wonderful day acting out. So definitely I have proof that this works. I just need to seek guidance and help from my higher power and make it work.

  21. When I entered 12 step recovery, I did an immediate 360 in my daily activities. I began going to meetings, calling fellows, reading, doing step work, and so on.. By the time I got home from work, I was dead tired. It was a shock to the system and I remember feelings of anxiety, desperation, vulnerability, sadness, resentment, and frustration. It was a confusing time of emotional roller coasters. My work performance went from bad to worst; I was falling sleep at work; I could not stand to be around my parents or sister. But today, I feel like I’ve hit a stabilization point. I still have bad days, but I feel more stable. And instead of reaching for my drug, I reach for my tools of recovery.

  22. Today I am 70 days sober. This I am proud of but not as proud as I should be. My sobriety should be much longer than it is. I however am very proud that I have been in true recovery for 26 days. My life has changed so much since I committed myself to The Program! I am working the program every day. And I am happy to say the withdrawals are gone the obsessions are gone the fantasies are gone. I know that they are not far away though, I know that if I do not work the program every day they will return with a vengeance and they will kill me. So today I am thankful to God my father for his love his strength his power that helps me and guides me on my path to recovery. Two days ago while I was holding my wife a feeling of such strength coursed into my heart. It’s the only way to describe it. I said to my wife. Please give me a chance to show you the man I am today the man I am becoming and the man I will be before you make a permanent decision with us. She held me close and said she would. I know with gods love and Debbie’s love I will stay in my recovery and I will become the best man that I have ever been. Thank you father for your love and help every minute you are with me.

  23. withdrawal had me climbing the walls ,i had never had a week in my life without pleasuring myself how could i go 90 days like my sponsor wanted . i called almost daily to my sponsor to complain but after awhile other thoughts came to me and other outer circle behaviors replaced that burning desire . i listened to some inspirational audio tapes and read on addiction and as i learned more about what i was up against ,i became laser focused on not letting my thoughts run me . i could feel clarity as time went by and i began to have more time ,more time meant i could grow and be more efficient with my life and i liked that ,soon it was not a punishment but a means to feel happy about life again ,because i had more purpose and less selfishness .

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