Known as acute withdrawal, this process typically lasts from a few days to a couple of weeks, as the substance is slowly eliminated from the body. Post-acute withdrawal syndrome or PAWS follows acute withdrawal and can last up to two years for some in recovery. It is important to understand and prepare for PAWS during your treatment process, since these unexpected bouts of withdrawal symptoms can threaten to actually derail your recovery efforts.

Symptoms of Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome

While acute withdrawal is typically characterized by physical symptoms, people experiencing PAWS often have psychological or emotional symptoms to grapple with. Common symptoms of PAWS include:

  • Cloudy thinking and memory problems
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Erratic mood swings or irritability
  • Sleep interruptions and disturbances
  • Fluctuating energy levels, low motivation
  • Acute sensitivity to stress, emotional overreactions

Episodes of PAWS can strike without warning and may last for a number of days. If you are not prepared for the inevitability of these episodes, you may become discouraged with your recovery process and even be tempted to relapse. It is important to understand that PAWS is a normal part of the recovery process and to exercise coping strategies during the episodes that can help you ride them out in the easiest way possible.

Treatment for Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome

There is no quick, simple cure for PAWS. Instead, you must be prepared to manage the symptoms when they arise, until the episode comes to its natural close. Some coping strategies for dealing with PAWS episodes include:

  • Practice self-care with proper diet, exercise and time to relax or meditate
  • Lean on your mentor, support group or trusted family and friends
  • Do not try to push through a PAWS episode, give yourself time to rest and relax
  • Keep telling yourself that the episode is temporary and in a few days you will feel like yourself again

A PAWS episode is a sign your brain in on the path to recovery. Try to remember that fact as you suffer through the PAWS symptoms – you are making progress!

PAWS is an experience that often discourages those in recovery and can even be the catalyst for a relapse. By understanding these withdrawal episodes are completely normal and allowing yourself time to work through them, you can survive PAWS without allowing symptoms to derail your recovery. For more tips on dealing with PAWS, contact Treatment Now.