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Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS)

In addiction recovery, post-acute withdrawal syndrome is a normal occurrence that addicts and alcoholics experience after going through the first stage of acute withdrawal. Acute withdrawal starts when the addict or alcoholic stops using or drinking, and can last for several weeks thereafter. This stage can be quite intense, and even deadly in some cases. Medical detox is necessary for many people; stopping drinking (going “cold turkey”) or ceasing to use certain drugs can be extremely dangerous and possibly fatal. The acute stage is also marked with intense physical and psychological cravings, that often drive an addict or alcoholic back to their drug of choice.

Once the acute stage has passed and withdrawal has ended, the post-acute stage begins. PAWS can last for quite a long time—20 months or longer in some cases—and with it comes an array of symptoms. It is important for addicts and alcoholics to remember PAWS. Early recovery can be frustrating, plain and simple. The symptoms of PAWS add to this, but if you keep them in mind, and know that they will pass, recovery will be easier. Some symptoms may last a short time, others could be a few days or longer. Every person is different, so do not fall into the trap of comparing your sobriety with anyone else. TA few of the more common symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Depression
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Memory loss and difficulty thinking clearly
  • General cognitive impairment
  • Insomnia
  • Mood swings
  • Extreme drug cravings
  • Anhedonia (inability to feel pleasure)
  • Fatigue

This list does not comprise all PAWS symptoms, but it is easy to see how experiencing any number of these could contribute to the struggles of early recovery. These states are not continuous, but can strike without notice. As much, the importance of having healthy coping mechanisms to handle these symptoms, as well as everything else that the newly sober must encounter, is paramount. Exercise, fellowship, identifying and avoiding triggers, eating healthy, and meditation are all helpful tools in combating stressors in sobriety. Remember that feelings won’t kill you, but drinking or using again will.

If you are struggling with addiction, call us at the Serenity Recovery Center. Recovery is hard, but addiction is much harder. You don’t have to do this alone. Our detox is designed to keep you safe and as comfortable as possible. Give us a call, we are available 24/7 at 844-339-6964. You can do this. Recovery is possible, call today.