When recovering from an addiction, withdrawal is an unavoidable aspect of the process. Although one can manage the symptoms with medically supervised detox, withdrawal symptoms are inevitable for many addictions.
Acute withdrawal syndrome is the first stage of alcohol and drug detox. These symptoms are primarily physical and last anywhere from two days to two weeks, depending on the person, type of substance, and other health factors.
That is the part of withdrawal most people are familiar with. It is treated with medication and professional monitoring. However, post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) includes the longer-term or persistent symptoms that occur after the initial detox.
Experiencing PAWS often leads to a higher likelihood of relapse due to the relentless and recurrent symptoms.
PAWS is not the same for everyone, and not everyone going through recovery will experience it. It is more common in those with a long history of addiction as adjusting to life without substances becomes more of a challenge.
The symptoms and severity of PAWS will differ based on the person’s physical and mental health, the substance they used, the method of use, the length of the addiction, and the treatment they received.
After drug detox, when the chemicals in the brain begin to regulate, PAWS causes fluctuations while the brain tries to return to a healthy state. This is most common in those with alcohol, benzodiazepine, or opioid addictions due to the potency of those substances.
What makes PAWS so difficult to handle is its unpredictability. There is no set time frame for it to occur. Someone with no symptoms of PAWS after detox may experience PAWS years into recovery due to life changes or stress.
Although PAWS can be long-lasting, it is also sporadic. The symptoms can come and go over time, meaning they can sneak up on you, leading to urges to use.
Some of the most common symptoms of PAWS include:
- Insomnia, fatigue, and other sleep disturbances
- Irritability, aggression, hostility
- Anxiety or panic attacks
- Impaired concentration and poor memory
- Lack of enthusiasm or motivation
- Mood swings
- Poor impulse control
- Increased sensitivity to stress
- Cravings and urges to use
- Dreams about alcohol or other drugs
As unpleasant and challenging as experiencing PAWS is, it is manageable with the proper treatment.
PAWS Treatment and Management
PAWS, although brutal, is a normal part of addiction recovery. Being aware of the signs and symptoms of PAWS before recovery or in the beginning stage can help you prepare to cope with its effects later on.
Knowing that it is a possibility lets you prepare for its occurrence before it happens. When in detox and further treatment, you will take part in therapies and support groups that discuss PAWS and its symptoms as well as healthy coping mechanisms.
Having access to such resources allows you to recognize symptoms like mood swings, anxiety, or the urge to use and develop strategies to face these symptoms head-on.
Addiction recovery isn’t just about the physical symptoms of addiction and withdrawal, but the long-term struggles you will endure. Addiction treatment focuses on you gaining control of your life and finding ways to manage stress.
Treatment for PAWS also includes ongoing care. Even after rehab, continuing in therapy and support groups improves your odds at long-term recovery. Having consistent access to professional insight and peer support offers a healthy outlet for you to handle life’s difficulties.
Throughout your treatment and follow-up care, most medical professionals will:
- Educate clients about what to expect from withdrawal and recovery
- Encourage patience and celebrate each step
- Develop healthy behaviors like exercise, eating well, and sleeping enough
- Continually assess potential co-occurring disorders
- Encourage ongoing care through therapy and mutual support groups
- Help to manage impulse control and drug cravings
- Teach clients how to recognize PAWS symptoms and take them seriously
The guidance from health care professionals throughout the recovery process encourages positivity and preparation from the beginning of your recovery journey.
Following their advice and following up with recommended care can help you manage PAWS symptoms so that you can reduce their intensity and remain sober.
Developing Coping Strategies for PAWS
Along with continued care during each stage of recovery, developing healthy coping strategies to handle symptoms of PAWS can help you control urges to use and continue in your recovery.
Understanding all you can about PAWS will help you know what to do when symptoms come up. Ask your doctor for details and any information they can provide and seek out further knowledge on your own. By using reliable sources online, you can develop a well-curated outline of what to expect and how to deal with it.
Although PAWS can feel like it is taking over all the progress you’ve made, focusing on the positive and continuing to work toward your goals helps you redirect your attention.
With that said, maintaining a balanced life filled with productive activities, healthy socializing, and self-care reduces your anxiety and stress levels to help regulate your mental health.
Accepting that PAWS could likely be a part of your recovery prepares you to handle the symptoms and know when to ask for help.
PAWS Can Be Overwhelming … But With Treatment, It’s Manageable
For some, post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) is a natural part of addiction recovery that occurs throughout the process. Unlike acute withdrawal symptoms that happen during the first few days or weeks after ceasing substance use, PAWS can persist for years after initial detox. Even those well into their recovery can experience PAWS symptoms like anxiety, depression, and urges to return to using.
These symptoms can be overwhelming and disorienting for those in recovery but are manageable with the proper treatment, especially at a drug rehab. Learning about PAWS early on in recovery prepares you for the possibility of experiencing it. Knowing what to expect and what symptoms to look out for lets you know when to seek further help or enact the lessons you previously learned in rehab.
Although PAWS can occur at any point in recovery, DetoxNearMe.com is here to help you find the best treatment center to help you manage the symptoms and maintain your sobriety. Contact DetoxNearMe.com today to learn more.