When we attempt to eliminate an addictive substance, a physical experience known as ‘withdrawal’ occurs.

Withdrawal symptoms can include severe anxiety, headaches, sadness, anger, sweating, shaking, disorientation and depression. They can last anywhere from days to weeks or even months after quitting.

Many individuals can’t stop consuming sweeteners, flours, processed foods and other addictive foods because they have great difficulty getting through the intense period of withdrawal. Cravings create an urge for more serotonin or dopamine, which only temporarily relieve the discomfort of withdrawal symptoms. As we have mentioned, this is a vicious cycle. And it can lead to life-threatening conditions, including obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

People who succeed in healing their addictions learn to understand and deal with their physical cravings and withdrawal symptoms. They also become good at managing the intense feelings that often arise during the withdrawal period. But it’s a tough struggle. Despite a strong desire to stop, the complexity of physical withdrawal symptoms and the accompanying emotions can lead an individual back to using mood-altering foods, which only perpetuate the addiction cycle.

What exactly is withdrawal?