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Overcoming Cult Withdrawal

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Overcoming Cult Withdrawal:

When asked, most people in a cult would deny being dependent upon their group. Some would go so far as to say that it was just like any other group of people, and that if they did not "believe it", they would simply leave. It isn't until after they actually do leave that those same people realize just how dependent upon the cult they had become.

For the vast majority of members in destructive cults, the cult is more than a group of people; it is a way of life. They live, breathe, eat, and sleep with the cult on their minds. Their strongest connections are found within the cult, and any connections that seemed strong outside the cult were severed. The cult is their lifeline, and with the cult identity empowered, severing that lifeline feels like ending life itself. Some who leave suffer withdrawal symptoms so severe that they also develop PTSD or depression.

Former members must learn to treat their withdrawal symptoms. Like any other dependency, quitting "cold turkey" is very painful. Those who escape quickly learn that there is no way to "wean themselves off of" cult dependency; shortly after leaving, many are severed from the group. With the added pressure of abandonment, and without proper support, they may develop other symptoms of withdrawal -- both mentally and physically. Former members must be aware of their symptoms, and find ways to mentally detox.

Symptoms of withdrawal from the dependency of a cult are very similar to withdrawal from substance abuse. Former members with mild symptoms often describe nausea, shaking, sweating, tense, or intense fear. Those who report more severe symptoms describe unusual states of confusion, severe trembling, or seeing, hearing, or feeling things that are not there. Many are afraid to talk about their symptoms, not realizing that they are both common and treatable. For the large majority, the conditions simply go away on their own. Some require counseling or therapy.