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This study utilized a life history approach to describe clients' psychological experiences of the alcohol withdrawal process while voluntarily residing in a specialist alcohol withdrawal facility. Reflection on the past and anticipation of the future frequently occupied the thoughts of participants as they sought insight in to their lives. These insights were associated with a range of emotions that included embarrassment, shame, optimism, feelings of support and a sense of loss of control. The findings provide additional information on the human experience of alcohol withdrawal and, thus, increase empathy, understanding and knowledge. This increased understanding can be utilized to improve the quality of nursing care provided to this complex client group.