In addition to the physical symptoms of withdrawal, many uncomfortable emotions can arise.

People going through withdrawal often need support while adapting to life without the substance—whether the drug is sweet processed foods and drinks, cocaine, tobacco or alcohol.

Feelings experienced in this stage can include:

Grief: Life as one knows it—the experience of ‘using’ an addictive, mood-altering substance—is coming to an end. It’s hard to let go.

Depression or sadness: After depending on the mood-altering substance as a pick-me-up, now we must learn to live life as it is. For a while this new perspective can seem bleak.

Excitability: Without the addictive substance that served to calm and sedate in times of stress, we can feel overwhelmed and edgy.

Social withdrawal: The substance used to help us connect with others and feel socially accepted. In the absence of that buffer, we might avoid social situations.

Anxiety: The brain is also going through physical withdrawal as it adjusts to a new way of coping without the drug. This can put our system on high alert.

What actually occurs during the withdrawal stage?