Aspartame Withdrawal Symptoms, Are They Real?

By now most folks who have visited my site have realized that I had a huge addiction to Diet Coke and struggled with quitting for so long, but could never do it because the withdrawal symptoms were just too much to take and I always ended up drinking it again.  The sad part to my story is, every time I tried to quit and couldn’t do it, the more addicted I became.  If you haven’t read my whole story, stop and read through the pages on the left side navigation bar and then come back to this post and I will share more information about the addiction to aspartame and the withdrawal symptoms that most experience when they try to quit.

If you read my entire story then you know that I am going to start with the punch line first in this post.  When I finally quit drinking Diet Coke almost 4 weeks ago, I experienced NO WITHDRAWAL SYMPTOMS at all!!  The catch is, this time was different from all the other times that I tried to quit and experienced a ton of withdrawal symptoms that always brought me back to drinking it.

The first time I tried to quit drinking Diet Coke, was about two years ago.  At that time, my side effects were just starting to arise.  For the first time ever, I experienced a migraine.  For those folks who have had migraines, you know what I am talking about, migraines are different from a regular headache.  In fact, I went to a neurosurgeon, who did all the scans and didn’t find anything and then prescribed Imitrex.  The medication was great, it usually took care of the migraine with one dose, but a year later, one pill just wouldn’t do it.  This past year, the migraines became more frequent and typically when one set in, one Imitrex was not enough to knock it out.  I remember times when a migraine would set it and it got so bad I had to go home early from work, would usually down a can of diet coke, take a couple Imitrex, put a hot towel over my face and crawl into my bed to try and sleep it off.  This is not how a young, active 40 year old wanted to live his life.

Shortly after the migraines and headaches began, I started to notice problems in both my knees.  I would wake up in the morning and feel pain in my knees that made it hard to just stand up at times.  The joint pain would come and go, but most of this last year, it increasingly became worse.  One of my hobbies is go-karting.  I race at two local tracks, travel to other tracks around Iowa and race at the countries largest street race, the Rock Island Grand Prix.  When you are at the track your go-kart sits on a stand and when you are ready to go out to race you and your pit person have to lift it off the stand onto the ground.  My knee pain was so bad at times, I could no longer put the weight on my knees to lift my own kart off its stand.  Realize, I am a pretty healthy individual, very active and to have this kind of problem effect my life this way was not how I wanted to live.

I went to my doctor one day and asked him about all the problems I was having.  After talking, my addiction to Diet Coke came up.  As I shared in my story, my doctor was not too happy to find out how much I was drinking daily and for how long I had been doing this.  He didn’t come out and say, Mike, the Diet Coke is causing your problems, but I could tell in voice that he knew my addiction could be the cause.  Of course, me being naive, I couldn’t see how a soda could cause that many side effects, but at that time, I had no clue what Aspartame was or the effects it could have on the body.  I continued to drink my normal 7-8 cans plus a day and kind of just wrote off what my doctor seemed to urge me to do, it just didn’t seem to make sense to me at that time.

Well, here is the final punch line and how my Diet Coke addiction ended, or new chapter in my life began, however you want to look at it.  As I share in my story, a very good friend of mine came to my office one day and wanted to share a product with me that he had been trying, he thought I might like it, knew I had a pretty stressful job and thought I might like some extra energy.  He gave me a couple samples and said drink one in the morning and one later in the afternoon and see what you think.  I won’t share the ending here, you can read it on my Diet Coke Addiction Busted!! page, but what I want to get across to all of the people who struggle with the same type of side effects and symptoms associated with Aspartame and other artificial sweeteners, is that with the help of a healthy replacement, I was able to break my addiction in 5 DAYS, and not experience one withdrawal symptom at all.  NONE.  I know that there are people who can ween themselves off, or stop cold turkey but can everyone, I couldn’t.  The truth is there are many people who can’t because the addiction is too strong and the side effects are too much to handle.

I know that the side effects of artificial sweeteners is real, I experienced them.  To this date, nearly 5 weeks after my last Diet Coke, every side effect that I shared above or on my other posts has gone.  I have not had one headache, not one migraine, no more joint pain, and finally I feel like a healthy 40 year old should. Maybe you don’t have a diet drink addiction, maybe it’s coffee, tea, un-healthy energy drinks or your third run to Starbucks for a double late espresso.  Whatever the addiction, your body may one day kick you in the butt like mine did, a rude awakening it was for sure.

If you are ready to break that diet drink addiction, email me, wittmc@msn.com if you have any questions, I’d be glad to help out.

Thanks again to all those that have visited my site, read my story and commented.

Mike W.
Iowa

120 comments

  1. Deidre says:

    Hi, I have been drinking diet coke since I was 13 and I am now 46. For the last 15 years I have had at least 2 litres a day. Mostly in the mornings to wake up. Now I don’t want it anymore but I feel awful. I have tried several times to reduce but ALWAYS went back feeling like I had to have it. I am very worried cause I have only been off for 3 days and I feel awful. Weak and sore and tired and disorganized. Is it really the aspartame? It makes me nervous to even try but I know it is affecting my overall health drinking so much of that chemical. just need to vent, thanks for listening.

  2. Stacy McKnight says:

    I was severely addicted to Diet Dr Pepper. Up to 10 a day at least.
    I decided to quit. So Nov 11, 2015 I quit cold turkey. I drank lots of water
    And would allow myself 1 regular Coke a day. I had a
    Few headaches….but not many.. On Dec 10th almost 1 month I
    Had a seizure for the first time ( I am 45) I was told by a coworker
    That it looked like I was holding on to an electric fence …then down I went.
    Continued to seize. I busted my head open, spent 4, days in the hospital
    And still have not been released to go back to
    Work. Anyone ever heard of of long term aspertame use leading
    To seizures? Still possible to link to aspartame when I
    Had been off for 4 weeks?? Desperately seeking info!

  3. Zoe says:

    I stopped drinking Diet Coke two weeks ago, my knees have been hurting a lot and I have had my first migraine, dizzy spells and it’s really pretty scary. I’m hoping this is from stopping the Diet Coke. :(

  4. robinK says:

    I have been drinking diet coke like water for a few years and about 3 weeks ago I quit cold turkey. The first full 24 hours off I experienced a panic attack, had a headache and just felt in a daze. Four to five days later I had more energy and was sleeping better and waking up earlier feeling rested. Nearly 2 weeks in I started having pain and weakness in my lower back and the calves of my legs when I would stand up and walk for a short period. A few days ago I was walking for just a short period and I began to sweat, my lower back and calves of my legs felt so weak that I felt I would pass out, I felt nauseated and just needed to quickly sit down. I drove myself home and threw up. I went to doc and we did xrays and he says that he thinks it is just pulled muscles from doing yard work and he gave me an injection of toradol. The toradol helped alot for about 36 hours but now I am back feeling weakness in my lower back and calves and can’t walk very long without needing to find somewhere to sit quickly. I do struggle with fibro and wonder if the lack of caffeine and aspartame is just causing a major flare up. I am sickly and really worried. No more aspartame for me and I pray to GOD this clears up soon.

  5. Jeff says:

    I was a heavy Diet Pepsi drinker for years, around 8 or 9 cans a day and I have not noticed any side affects.
    My Kids started buying me this natural sugar coke that taste really sweet to me and I only need to drink 2 a day at the most to get my fix, however in the last week and a half since I stopped drinking Diet Pepsi. I noticed I’m having balance problems, joint pain, digestion problems, and general flu like Symptoms. Is this normal for getting off diet Pepsi ?.

  6. Denise says:

    Please help me. I’ve been detoxing for a month. Diet Pepsi has been my buddy for 35 years. My migraines are out the door. I’m so tired. I’m sick of the couch. I want my life back.
    What is ACT and where can I find it?
    Please help me.

    Sincerely,

    Denise

  7. michael says:

    I recently gave up diet mountain dew. For about a week and a half I had severe headaches, and fatigue. Once I go through I bit this bullet and now I drink mostly water. Sometimes vitamin water for taste. With out the excess caffeine and no aspertame or carbination I have been able to cut my calorie intake in half. In the period of three weeks. I lost 6 pounds, have more energy then ever. I am 269 now and the wieght is dropping. All because I took that first step and dumped diet pop.

  8. michelle barnard says:

    my hair have been falling out. i have extreme joint and muscular pains. I am in severe agony. i use sweetners in my cereal and coffee and drink 2-4 liters of diet soda on a daily basis. im in my early twenties, and used to be so active but the pain i am in has prohibited me to part take in physical activity. 2 year ago i read about aspartame poisoning when i experienced similar symptoms. i immediately quit aspartame consumption and within weeks my hair grew back and i felt great. now i am back to sqaure one and i have a strong urge to kick my own arse continuously until it hurts very bad. how could i have been so blind. exscusing the occasional sugar free drink and then falling into the same bloody and may I add life threatening routine. do yourself a favour, google aspartame poisoning, you’ll be in for an unpleasant treat. Avoid the crap before you have headaches and all the other contributing side effects. they should ban rattex and give pests aspartame instead its the cheaper alternative. Avoid the shit, its toxic! drink plenty of water with lemon to detox faster. you can also add honey and cayenne pepper

  9. christine says:

    Iused to drink tons of diet soda, sugar free everything and I quit aspertame 2 months ago. I didnt get the headaches after quitting I used to get the headaches before I quit. I have quit before but I was unsuccessful. This time I did some reading and understood that it was poison so there was no other option as far as I was concerned. I started jucing and went 90% vegitarian. I used to have pains in my joints and felt like I always had a cold, was in pain all the time and constipated. ALL this has changed, and my life is brand new. I never realized that that stuff was killing me. If you are still addicted get help or do like I did go cold turkey and all I did was replace my bubbly addiction with Seltzer water. Problem solved.

  10. Cyndi says:

    On and off for 23 years approximately severe diet coke addict the last 6,7 years knee pain occasionally dr said calcium arthitis ect. The last three years my life has
    Been miserably painful in my body. I thought I was getting a chronic severe illness
    Got to where I couldn’t hardly get out the bed and take care of my family my hair got
    So thin from hairless. I was a mood swinging basket case my brain was so severely
    Fogged I had one dr say he thought I was having seizures, ear noises/ inner ear tinnitus,withdrawen from everyone on count of the severe fatigue and how I looked from the belly fat I recently developed even though I tried starving myself,and trying every diet I thought I could do that ppl said worked.. Vision loss @38 yrs old to we’re I couldn’t see a lot if stuff. My arms, legs, so exhausted I couldn’t hold my arms up long enough to comb my almost bald head. Severe panic/anxiety. Thought I was going to die or become a vegetable. Had no clue what is was until I saw a link on the news. Got to researching it. Dr said fibromyalgia. But it was aspartame poisining. So sleepy
    But couldn’t sleep at night. When I did go to sleep barely made it bathing kids. I just fell on the bed and I couldn’t move for hours. I ain’t worth it. The FDA needs to haft to feel this for approving such a poisin Torture. All the lies on aspartame. Websites backing them and saying it would hurt us. You lie. Just hope I can recover comletely
    With no harm. I’m still very ill but hope God will heal me. Wish I could have quit this stuff along time ago. Lucky and blessed to b alive today. This stuff has caused me to lose out on the last three years of my life.

  11. JR says:

    I have been heavily drinking Diet pop for over 25 years. I tried getting off cold turkey. The withdrawal symptoms are terrible. I got depressed, and totally unmotivated to do anything. On the positive side, I noticed my muscles were not as tense, and I was more easy-going, and friendly toward others. But, the depression became too much for me, so I started drinking the diet pop again, and sure enough, my mood improved. With this in mind, I am going to try to gradually taper off of nutrasweet, until my brain chemistry gets back to normal. A final note, I was addicted to nicotine and caffeine, and I can tell you nutra sweet is the worst of them all – very addictive.

  12. nicola says:

    Your battle sounds so much like mine. I would try to stop drinking Diet Coke and would get the migranes. I used this as my excuse to keep drinking it. Rencently, I realized I no longer liked the taste of it but it was an addiction. I made note of it to some friends and they were in shock at hearing I drink four a day. They told me right off it sets off neurotoxins and causes cancer. I don’t know if their words steamed the edge to keep up the fight to beat my addiction but whatever it is it worked. I am down to two day even one on some days. I replaced it with water and flavored drinks. No headaches, no cravings, and when I do drink it the appeal of it is disappearing. I look forward to continue beating this diet coke syndrome.

  13. James Moon says:

    I’ve been drinking diet sodas for probably the last 15 years or so. I like to think I never drank them to excess. I would have probably 2 to 4 cans of Diet Coke or Coke Zero per day. I will admit that the 1 or 2 (seldom any more than that) that I had in the evenings, after work, were frequently fortified with a shot or two of Captain Morgan.
    About 4 weeks ago, in response to so many of the negative things I had heard about sugar substitutes, I decided to cut aspartame out of my diet to see what would happen. This didn’t require much of an adjustment on my part. Basically, I just went back to buying regular Coke.
    The first thing I noticed was that regular Coke didn’t taste as good as it used to, back before I got used to Diet Coke. It also didn’t seem as thirst quenching as the diet drinks. It even made Captain and Coke less enjoyable!
    It started to strike me as being alarmingly similar to something like a nicotine addiction.
    More seriously, I had occasion to visit the doctor shortly after swearing off the diet stuff and it was noticed that my blood pressure was abnormally high. Where I had always been around 120 over 75, I had suddenly shot up to 155 over 95. I began monitoring my BP on a more or less daily basis after that, it remained very consistent at that level.
    I also started with the headaches. Not anything like a migraine, and not especially frequent, but long-lasting and similar to the same kind of pain you get when going through caffeine withdrawal. I’ve been averaging about one headache per week.
    Last week I woke up with one and, as an experiment, I bought a can of Coke Zero on my way to work. By the time I got there, my headache was gone. I checked my blood pressure and it was 132 over 84. By the next day, my blood pressure had climbed back up. The highest I’ve seen was yesterday at 162 over 100 – Stage 2 Hypertension territory. I am now, for the first time in my 47 years, on a low dose blood pressure medication to try to keep it under control.
    I’m hoping that with exercise and water, I’ll be able to flush the toxins out of my system and get back to normal.

  14. Michellee says:

    In June of 2013, I started decreasing my intake of diet coke, just to be healthier. I went from having 2-4 cans a day, down to one a day. After about a week, I realized that I needed that first one when I first woke up. The rest of the day I drank a lot more water with lemon or strawberries, gatorade2, orange juice w/breakfast and that’s about it (i don’t care for coffee or hot tea). It’s not the diet coke that you are addicted too. It’s the caffeine. I found myself very tired for about 2 months.

    In August of 2013, I decided to find a drink that had caffeine, but was natural and had no aspartame. I drink Bigelow Green tea with lemon in the morning, which is just enough caffeine to get ya going. There are a ton of teas with caffeine out there. There’s even water with caffeine, you just have to look (if you need caffeine at all).

    Starting September 2013, I stopped drinking and eating anything with aspartame. I feel so much better. You definitely have to check labels. There are a ton of gums and mints out there that have aspartame too. Just stop eating anything that says sugree free, because aspartame is in in. I get that this article is talking about diet coke, but the reason I stopped drinking diet coke was because of the aspartame. Every once in awhile, you can treat your self to a regular coke, but remember regular soda has a ton of sugar AND caffeine. I’m on my way to be healthier. Now if I can just stop eating bread!!!

  15. donna says:

    I have drank diet coke for 51 years and quit cold turkey 6 day’ ago, I had the terrible migraines and just plain SICK, hot flash’s clamie. irreatable just not not myself and I too wanted to end it and drink coke BUT refused it….and I will not ever drink another coke I care to much about my health I just wish I had of woke up years ago….but like the guy said in your mind you say how can anything cause so much damage…..WELL IT DOES so if you are thinking of quitting JUST DO IT….I am hoping for the best I am not out of the woods yet good luck to everyone.

  16. Christie says:

    I stopped drinking it a week ago, on Saturday I started experiencing horrible horrible stomach cramps, dizziness, sweating, d and v, dry mouth and sleeping problems. How long will this last? I feel like a junkie!

  17. Barb says:

    I am currently drinking approx. 2 lg bottles of diet soda per day. I am new to this information– however, I know I have experienced some memory problems. Is this anyting I can remedy by stopping aspartame in soda? Will I ever return to normal? If anyone has answeres, please share. Thanks, B

  18. Chris says:

    Help! I was recently diagnosed with a Uti/kidney infection. Dr said no diet Pepsi and prescribed an antibiotic. Approximately two days later I became very ill with flu like symptoms. Low grade fever nausea, Aching, blurred vision, headaches brainiac “foggy”….I am MISERABLE! I am accustomed to drinking 6-8 diet pepsi’s a day. After reading this website I realize it is that poison ASPARTAME!
    How can I stop these symptoms? I can’t go on with this horrible feeling! I’m drinking tons of water. Trying to detox – what else can I do? I stay in bed because it hurts to move! Please help!

  19. cheryl says:

    I too have stopped diet coke .i too landed up in the er 2x with panic /anxiety along with low blood sugars . They too suggested help to me .I indeed understand .

  20. Si SJ says:

    I stopped drinking diet coke about 3 weeks ago and just stopped instantaneously, within 24 hours I had intolerable migraine, so I continued to drink at normal rate (1-2 litres per day) and then I have weened myself back off over the last week, today was the second day without consuming any and I had a horrendous migraine all day, but it was very sunny where I live (rare for Manchester) and I had very little sleep previous 2 days due to work. My personal trainer insists this is normal and will continue for the next week or so, I have been drinking as much water as I can to flush the toxins from my body. No joint aches/fevers etc yet but only time will tell. Good luck to anyone who is trying to quit!!

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