June 28, 2016

Sugar withdrawal vs Drug withdrawal – What’s the difference?


As Day 1 of my 30 Day Sugar Detox approaches I want to know what to expect when it comes to withdrawing from this highly addictive substance. I know for a fact it’s not going to be an easy ride, if I haven’t had something sweet by 11am I get a headache and stroppy, so I’d quite like to know how I’ll feel by 11 days – I have a feeling it’s not going to be pretty. I’ve done a bit of research on the effects of abstaining from sugar and thought it would be interesting to compare them to the side affects of abstaining from cocaine.

According to a popular sugar detox program, documented on the blog ‘I quit sugar’ with Sarah Wilson there are a plethora of symptoms linked with detoxing from sugar, which can be compared closely with the sort of symptoms you’d expect when cutting other addictive substances from your diet, like caffeine, or illegal drugs.


Having started many healthy food diets and fat loss fads I am expecting the first day to go without a hitch, besides its not the starting a new regime that’s hard is it? It’s sticking to it long term. So I think in those first 24 hours I am going to keep reminding myself that it is going to get harder and this is just the beginning, I don’t want to focus on the negatives, but I also don’t want to lull myself into a false sense of security.

The main side affect I hear about time and time again, especially in the 90 Day SSS Plan forums on Facebook, are the headaches. Within the first two to three days there are likely to be headaches ranging from mildly annoying to severe, depending on your dependency (I’m expecting my head to fall off) and these tend to be the first symptom you’ll notice. I suffer with headaches at the moment caused by the sheer amount of sugar I consume, so I’m hoping I will be able to ride this particular nasty effect out. Hoping.

Another symptom a sugar detoxer can expect is flu like aches and pains. Bad isn’t it? That something we have come to expect as so normal actually causes us to feel physically ill when not consumed. How is this stuff even allowed to exist?! People have reported flu like symptoms, such as aching joints, back and muscles, headaches, stiffness and a huge energy slump.

I was expecting that one. The energy slump. My body relies quite heavily on sugar as it’s main source of energy and withholding that after years of fuelling the need can have no alternative result other than a huge crash in energy levels.

Close up of spoonful of sugar

I’m starting my detox on July 1st 2016, a Friday. So if my findings are correct then I can expect to suffer headaches by Sunday and the general crappyness, flu-like symptoms on Monday. Great. Just as the new working week begins, what more can I possibly dream of?! That for me is going to be a killer. My job involves being out and about in my car a lot, and filling up on petrol. This in itself is not a problem, its the petrol garage I have a problem with. For years the petrol garage has been my nemesis, displaying is dirty bits for all to see, like a naked Hollister model, tempting me as I wait to pay for my fuel. Rows and rows of glistening wrappers wink at me and I’m pretty sure I’ve dribbled down my front on more than one occasion.

This scares me. It is such an ingrained habit that most of the time I don’t even think twice about grabbing a Twirl as I wait in line. If there are any tips to help me battle this truly difficult hurdle, then please throw them at me.

Next up I’ve discovered that some people ‘get the shakes’. That’s right, their limbs and body truly kick off against this sudden reduction in the powder it had become oh so accustomed to. Probably caused by low blood sugar levels and the body not knowing how to cope with this, I think I am going to have to come back to this post and reread it several times, reminding myself that buying a Mars Bar is not going to help the situation and will only make matters worse. The body will get over this little bump in the road, and adapt to the low sugar levels in diet by using fat stores as energy! Yay! This is where the chubby cheeks and pregnant-not-pregnant belly will start to disappear.

Carlie – if you’re reading this desperate to refuel your blood’s sugar levels with crap, DON’T DO IT, THIS TOO WILL PASS!

Along side the shakes will undoubtedly be cravings unlike anything your body has experienced before and your will-power will be tested to it’s absolute maximum at this point. Couple this with mood swings and a short temper and I can say categorically that it will be this stage that people might want to stay well clear of me for a few days!

Do any of these symptoms sound familiar? Headaches, cravings, the shakes, flu like symptoms, mood swings and short temper? Yep, sounds just like a drug or alcohol withdrawal. If you have personal experiences with coming off of an addictive drug or alcohol let me know, I would be interested to hear your comparison stories – and don’t worry, I don’t judge.


What a negative post. The upside? This is only temporary, and if you’re reading this and now panicking at the prospect of going through such a horrendous time, keep focused on how great the results will be. Not just on your waistline, but on so many other aspects of your life. I will most definitely keep reminding myself of how good it will feel to rid my body of such a dangerous toxin.

My next post will highlight as many of the positive affect of a sugar detox as possible and will definitely be my go-to post when I’m struggling or faced with temptation. I hope you too can overcome all of these symptoms and achieve a better life without addiction.

Come back here once you’ve started your detox and let me know what experiences you are having. Take part in this community and know you are not alone, and understand that giving up sugar is no mean feat and certainly not to be sniffed at.

Together we can do this!


I quit sugar with Sarah Wilson, especially this article in her blog.

This article from the Daily Mail makes for a very interesting read and proved entertaining.

See my other articles on my detox here:

Introduction to the 30 Day Sugar Detox

Affects of sugar on the body

1 Comment

  • Sarah Hughes says:

    Hi Carlie

    Do you have any petrol stations where you pay with your card at the pump, I know our Asda’s have them. This way you don’t have to go anywhere near the chocolate 🙂
    Good luck with the detox, I lasted 60 days on the Joe Wicks plan then failed so I may give this detox a go too x

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