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Withdrawal: No one said it would be easy…

Over the last few months, we’ve talked to all sorts of people on the Helpline. Most of them feel that they have become dependent on drugs or alcohol and have made a decision that they want to free themselves from that dependence. But most of them are also, quite naturally, concerned about the withdrawal process.

Apart from it being a big change for us to make – especially if the drinking or drug use has been a feature of our life for many, many years – and we know that change is difficult, we need to be prepared for the physical symptoms of altering what we take into our body, alongside the difficulty of living life without something which was helping us to cope. Quite often callers say that they’ve read the ‘horror stories’ about people in withdrawal having violent reactions, such as seizures, and they are naturally scared – sometimes worried that the symptoms might frighten their children or might happen when they are out in public and be dangerous or just highly embarrassing.

So we thought it was time to share some information. As Phil, one of our Recovery Coaches based in Barrow, says: “the key is that the withdrawals will not be as bad as the addiction. So with the correct support, guidance and, if necessary, medication it’s a hell of a lot easier to withdraw than it is to kill yourself slowly through your addiction”. And it’s clearly a lot worse for those who care about you, too. If they want you to stay around then they will be there to support you through the withdrawal process, too.

If you’re able, start by talking to your GP and then to the people closest to you, so that they know what you’re planning to do and can keep an eye on you through your withdrawal. Your experience will be different from anyone else’s and it’s impossible to say precisely how it will go, but there is a lot of information about the kind of things that may happen and how to cope with them.

One of the great websites out there for anything to do with mental health is Very Well Mind ( We’ve picked out a few pages on there that may help you make the right choices about how to manage your withdrawal process, or understand what’s going on for someone you love who’s in withdrawal.

What is Withdrawal?
What to expect during withdrawal depending on what you are withdrawing from and the options available to you

How Can I Feel Better During Drug or Alcohol Withdrawal?
Some of the mental symptoms you are likely to experience and how you could choose to manage them

How to Maintain a Social Life When You’re Quitting Drinking
Tips for reconfiguring your social life during withdrawal to keep yourself safe and well supported

Above all, take care of yourself.

No one said withdrawal would be easy – but the rest of your life starts here!



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