The Agony of Withdrawal
There are two kinds of addiction: substance abuse and behavioral disorders. For both of these, withdrawal is physical, psychological, behavioral, and spiritual. It is a crisis that begins when the body, mind, and heart screams for a “fix.”
Substance abuse brings about serious, flu-like symptoms which include nausea, vomiting, digestive disruptions, trembling, and a change in sleep patterns.
Behavioral withdrawal brings on headaches, nausea, and a change in sleep patterns,
Substance abusers get anxious and depressed, sometimes suicidal.
Behavioral addictions produce anxiety and depression. In addition, the addict may experience age regression which brings up the memory of childhood neglect and abuse.
Substance abusers crave the loss of routine—of procuring the drugs, using the drugs, and getting the relief they crave. The addiction to routine [repetition compulsion] is strong in addicts, and they don’t want to give it up. It is a distraction from underlying issues like depression.
Behavioral addicts suffer in much the same way. They miss contact with their obsession. They want their old routine back no matter how dysfunctional it was. They feel lonely without their drug of choice.
Withdrawal is also called the “dark night of the soul.” It is a curse and a blessing. The withdrawal is very painful, but it is also an opportunity to grow and change. It helps addicts become healthy adults.
Treatment for Withdrawal
The only thing that helps physical withdrawal for substance abusers is other drugs in a hospital setting designed to bring you down slowly. The behavioral addict may not need hospitalization but certainly needs to rest. The exception would be if they have a nervous breakdown; then should check into a hospital.
Both kinds of addicts may need to talk to a doctor about temporarily considering medication for anxiety and depression.
The thing that helps psychological withdrawal for both kinds of addictions is psychological therapy, or professional treatment center. As well as twelve-step programs.
The only thing that really helps the loss of a familiar routine is substitution. Find a new healthy routine to replace the addictive one. This is why groups have so much success with addiction. The group replaces the substance or behavior. Then you move on to healing. You begin to separate from all dependencies and stand up on your own two feet.
What helps the spiritual withdrawal is a twelve-step program in addition to the therapy and treatment center. Religion is of no use here as it is sometimes shame- based.
To treat withdrawal here are some guidelines . . .
1. Reach out for help. Withdrawal is worse when you try to do it alone. Most people will never get through withdrawal without help.
2. Help includes hospitals, life coaches, treatment facilities, 12-Step support groups, individual therapy and spirituality. Make sure you reach out to people who understand addiction and the underlying issues.
3. Find a healthy distraction like activities and hobbies. Do not isolate at home.
4. Begin to deal with the underlying issues like depression, anxiety and loneliness, and attachment dysregulation.
5. Stay optimistic despite the inclination to be cynical about the whole thing.
6. Avoid self-pity and instead show yourself a healthy amount of sympathy and self-concern.
7. Stay the course no matter how long it takes.
8. Avoid experiences and substances that might turn into another addiction.
9. Pamper yourself.
10. Make note of your progress and celebrate your success with others.