PAWS or post-acute withdrawal syndrome is several psychological or emotional symptoms that occur when a person stops taking an addictive substance or prescription drug. PAWS can last for several weeks until months after a person has gone through the initial detox phase.
What is Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS)?
The Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior states:
Post-Acute-Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS) refers to a set of impairments that can persist for weeks or months after abstaining from a substance of abuse. PAWS may also be a post-withdrawal syndrome, prolonged withdrawal syndrome, or protracted withdrawal syndrome. The condition is marked by symptoms similar to those found in mood disorders and anxiety disorders, including mood swings, insomnia, and increased anxiety levels even without any apparent stimulus. PAWS symptoms most commonly manifest after a withdrawal period from alcohol, benzodiazepines, and opioids but have been known to occur with (cessation of) use of other psychoactive substances. It is estimated that 90 percent of recovering opioid users experience the syndrome to some degree, as do 75 percent of recovering alcohol and psychotropic abusers. (UCLA.EDU)
Post-acute withdrawal syndrome symptoms can be very uncomfortable and even at times debilitating for an individual in recovery. It can even get to a point where a person isn’t sure what they are experiencing, so they don’t know how to handle it, and they relapse. Let’s look at some of the symptoms of PAWS.
What Are the Symptoms of PAWS?
Post-acute withdrawal syndrome symptoms can vary depending on the substance you were taking, for how long, how frequently, and how much. Other medical and mental health issues that you have a history of could also prolong and exacerbate the symptoms. Eventually, the symptoms will subside, but how does one handle this and maintain sobriety? Unlike regular withdrawal symptoms that are mainly physical and occur once someone stops using a substance, post-acute withdrawal symptoms are psychological and emotional.
Signs of Post-Acute-Withdrawal Syndrome
These symptoms can occur months or years after you stop using drugs and the best thing to do is know how to deal with them so you do not end up in a relapse. Understand you are not alone in this as many people experience these symptoms. If you start to experience any of the PAWS symptoms listed below you can always give us a call and we can help you get through it. It can be very helpful to know and understand what the symptoms might be. Here are some of the symptoms of PAWS that many may experience:
- Fatigue or low energy
- Mood swings
- Insomnia or sleep disturbances
- Inability to think; focus
- Chronic pain
- Decreased libido
How to Successfully Overcome PAWS
Post-acute withdrawal syndrome, one of the most difficult things to get through after detox. How does one successfully overcome PAWS and stay clean? To start, it’s important to educate yourself about the syndrome and know what the symptoms are so that if you do start experiencing symptoms, you aren’t caught off guard. It’s also important to have regular check-ups with your primary care and mental health providers and assure you are being treated for any other health issues you may have. As stated above, not receiving proper care could only prolong or exacerbate the symptoms. Some of the other things you can do to help you get through post-acute withdrawal syndrome can include:
- Maintain a healthy diet
- Get regular exercise
- Develop healthy sleep patterns
- Attend regular meetings or support groups
- Develop a relapse prevention plan
- See your counselor or therapist regularly
- Learn how to manage impulse control
- Work on patience
While overcoming PAWS can seem daunting, on the way to recovery, you will learn how to handle the symptoms and become more in tune with your body. There are also medications available that can help. Find out what options are available to you from your provider. It takes a lot of strength and determination to recover from drug and alcohol addiction, but you can do it! If you start experiencing bad symptoms to the point where you are at risk of a relapse, call your doctor immediately.
Struggling With PAWS Symptoms? We Can Help!
If you or someone you love struggles with an addiction or alcoholism, our addiction specialists are available around the clock to assist you. Evoke Wellness offers safe medical detoxification in a comfortable environment and with minimal discomfort. We provide residential treatment in a structured environment and then provide you with after-care support to help lead you on the road to long-lasting recovery. You don’t have to suffer any longer. It is time you call one of our addiction specialists so they can help you on the path to a happier and healthier lifestyle free from substance abuse. We are available around the clock and all calls are free and confidential.