Withdrawal. The word brought up hideous images: addicts curled up in a fetal position, writhing in agony, or crying out in pain. We feared withdrawal and desperately tried to avoid it. As the book “Alcoholics Anonymous” says: “We thought we could find an easier, softer way. But we could not.” The only way out of withdrawal, we found, is to go through it.
We discovered that the withdrawal process was four-fold. First came a physical withdrawal. Second was a process of emotional withdrawal with storms of feelings blasting through us like a hurricane. Third, as we took the Twelve Steps of Sexual Compulsives Anonymous, followed the Twelve Traditions as a group, and used all the SCA tools at our disposal, the lust and fantasy of the mind slowly began to drip away in a gracious act of mental withdrawal. Finally, we then underwent a spiritual withdrawal, where we no longer treated sexual compulsion as our higher power, but instead we turned our will and our lives over to the God of our understanding.
Sometimes we cycled through these four withdrawal stages repeatedly, and sometimes they overlapped. For some of us, certain stages of withdrawal were less dramatic than other stages, or what we saw other members in program moving through. But no matter what the withdrawal process was for each of us, it was unique to our own recovery. Our sponsors and fellow members of SCA shared their experience, strength and hope with us, but ultimately the outcome of our individual withdrawal process was the rebirth of our relationships with ourselves and our Higher Power, then to others. It was a journey no one else could make for us.
The International Service Organization of SCA has written a pamphlet titled Moving Through Withdrawal, from which this material was excerpted. You may order it through our Literature Store.