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.

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.

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.
  • Go to as many meetings as you want and need to.
  • Recite the Serenity prayer, or prayer of your choice.
  • Get a sponsor and call them regularly.
  • Call another program member.
  • Read the Withdrawal: Gateway to Freedom, Hope, and Joy pamphlet.
  • Listen to the Chapter 5: the Withdrawal Experience on CD.
  • Take a walk or try a simple form of exercise.
  • Carry the Pocket Toolkit and reference it when you need to.
  • Write a daily gratitude list or in a journal.
  • Read other S.L.A.A. pamphlets and literature.
  • Practice good self-care: plenty of sleep and healthy eating.
  • Get rid of old letters, pictures, movies, anything else from your acting out.
  • Connect with your Higher Power.

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