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Exposure Therapy

The following are just ideas that some members have found to be especially helpful for dealing with the problems encountered in withdrawal.


"The basic idea behind exposure therapy is that you desensitize yourself to an anxiety or phobia trigger through repeated exposure, increasing the duration and/or intensity of each exposure as you progress.

Some of my worst initial fears in this withdrawal fueled a cranky, monolithic agoraphobia, one that had essentially kept me housebound during the tail end of my taper and into the first months of the post-withdrawal period. Alone for two weeks during the 2005 Christmas holidays, I had no choice, at a certain point, but to leave the house to get groceries.

I began slowly, darting into a nearby convenience store for snacks, seeing that I was able to stand in one place for the 30 seconds needed to make a transaction -- to buy a soda, say, or a bag of pretzels. After a few days of this, I progressed to the local grocery store, a small market about a half-mile away (I forced myself to drive, so I'd get used to the car again). I did this for a couple of weeks, successfully, then progressed to the supermarket, two miles away, where I shopped at off hours so I wouldn't have to stand in line. The next stage involved going to restaurants, where it could be torture to sit still, with one or two trusted friends. Then I progressed to a few miles of highway driving. And so on. ...

It helps many people, and has helped me in the past (during my initial bout of agoraphobia, at age 15), to have a friend or teacher or mentor or therapist along for the ride as moral support, eventually building up to tackling the source of fear alone. It may seem ridiculous to have to reclaim your life, and your freedom to move about in the world, this way, but it is very effective."


Disclaimer:  The information contained in this website was not compiled by a doctor or anyone with medical training. The advice contained herein should not be substituted for the advice of a physician who is well-informed in the subject matter discussed. Before making any decisions about your health or treatment you should always confer with your physician and it is always assumed that you will do so.

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Last updated 21 July 2020