Abstinence from acting out is initially followed by a period of withdrawal. This can be uncomfortable for many of us. Our bodies go through unexpected physical changes; our emotions hit highs and lows we never imagined possible. We feel, perhaps for the first time ever, the void which we have sought to fill with our addiction(s).

Abstinence from acting out on bottom-line behaviors opens us to the vulnerability we have desperately sought to avoid. This vulnerability is experienced differently by each of us.

The resulting withdrawal is sometimes recognized first by its symptoms:

  • a craving to act out
  • inexplicable aches and pains
  • physical illness or exhaustion
  • switch to a new addiction(s)
  • changes in eating or sleeping patterns
  • general self doubt
  • suicidal thoughts
  • desire to isolate
  • obsessive thinking
  • sadness, depression, or despair
  • dreams of acting out
  • emotional highs and lows
  • irritability, anger, or rage
  • preoccupation with fantasy
  • confusion or trouble concentrating
  • questioning of our interest in S.L.A.A. or recovery

©1995 The Augustine Fellowship, S.L.A.A., Fellowship-Wide Services, Inc.
Excerpt from Withdrawal: Gateway to Freedom, Hope, and Joy.

How Can I Get Through Withdrawal?

The following suggestions have been helpful in getting members though the experience of withdrawal. This list is not meant to be absolute for everybody. If you find something is not working for you then feel free to stop doing it and try something else. The important thing is that you don’t give in and you don’t give up.

For more tools, slogans, and suggestions, see the pamphlet Withdrawal: Gateway to Freedom, Hope, and Joy.

Tools to Survive Withdrawal

  • Don’t act out, no matter what.
  • Read Chapter 5: the Withdrawal Experience in the S.L.A.A. Basic Text.
  • Get a sponsor, even if it is only temporary, and keep in touch with them.
  • Make a contact list of safe* S.L.A.A. members and call them when you need to.
  • Ask safe* S.L.A.A. members to call you regularly.
  • Spend time with safe* friends and family members.
  • Write in a recovery journal.
  • Read S.L.A.A. pamphlets.
  • Listen to the Chapter 5: the Withdrawal Experience of the S.L.A.A. Basic Text.
  • Take good care of yourself: get plenty of sleep and eat a balanced diet.
  • Take a walk.
  • Get to a meeting.
  • Get rid of old letters, pictures, movies, anything else from your acting out.
  • Connect with your Higher Power.

*We define “safe” as someone who is not toxic to you staying sober. This is a person who
you would not act out with nor be triggered to act out.

Things to avoid:

  • Stay way from old haunts.
  • Don’t go back and try to make your last relationship work one more time.
  • Avoid trying to stay friends with your past “drugs of choice.” In a moment of weakness you
    will get sucked back in.
  • Don’t isolate. You have people in program you can reach out to, and they want to be there for