Substance Use

Post Acute Withdrawal Symptoms (PAWS)

drug addict in withdrawal

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What Are Post Acute Withdrawal Symptoms?

Withdrawal symptoms can be as mild as feeling a bit off or as severe as facing major health problems, all part of your body’s adjustment to a new, healthier routine. Another layer to this difficult journey can be post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS), a condition that shapes your recovery in its own unique ways.

At Zinnia Health, we provide comprehensive treatment programs designed to address the challenges of drug addiction. Dial (855) 430-9439, and let us help you navigate this critical phase of your recovery journey.

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What is PAWS?

Stepping away from addictive substances such as cannabis, methamphetamine, alcohol, opiates, marijuana, cocaine, or benzodiazepines like Xanax can be hard. In many cases, you’re likely to experience a transition period. This stage, known as acute withdrawal, is a common part of moving away from substance use disorders.

This brief but challenging period of time can be uncomfortable or even painful.

It can cause the following physical symptoms:

  • Muscle aches
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Shakiness or trembling
  • Increased heart rate

However, the scope of drug and alcohol withdrawal extends beyond physical discomfort. After the initial stage of acute withdrawal, a second phase known as post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) occurs. This happens as the brain tries to recalibrate following the active addiction phase.

Psychological and Emotional Addiction

PAWS mainly involves the mental and emotional parts of withdrawal, showing just how complex getting over an addiction can be. PAWS can start at different times, depending on how long and how much alcohol or drugs were used, and it can show up weeks or even months into recovery.

Even though PAWS is not permanent, its symptoms can make it more likely for someone to fall back into using substances. This is true even for those who are really determined to quit using drugs and want to live a clean, sober life.

Why Do People Experience PAWS?

Post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) is an integral part of the recovery journey from substance abuse. This is true whether the symptoms are mild or severe. During active addiction, the brain experiences chemical imbalances that PAWS aims to correct.

At Zinnia Health, our unique approach to treating drug abuse combines a range of techniques. These include detox programs, evidence-based therapies, personalized care, and a nurturing environment. Call Zinnia Health today at (855) 430-9439 and let our experienced team help you find inpatient or outpatient treatment centers near you.

What Are the Common Symptoms of PAWS?

PAWS can bring about its own set of challenges as you navigate your way toward long-term sobriety. Symptoms include:

  • Reduced motivation and lack of initiative
  • Persistent urges and cravings for substances
  • Sleep disturbances, including insomnia and vivid dreams
  • Fluctuating mood swings
  • Impaired ability to concentrate and focus
  • Persistent fatigue and low energy levels
  • Mental fog and difficulty with memory recall
  • Challenges with fine motor coordination
  • Increased sensitivity to stress and emotional triggers
  • Feelings of anxiety or panic
  • Episodes of depression and sadness
  • Heightened irritability or feelings of hostility

Stay resilient and know that with time and proper support, you can overcome the challenges of drug use and achieve lasting sobriety.

Strategies for Managing Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome

While completely avoiding PAWS may be an unrealistic goal, you can actively manage its impact.

Take the following steps to reduce the risk of relapse:

  • Get Help From an Addiction Specialist: They can offer valuable insights, prescribe appropriate medications, and suggest evidence-based therapies to ease the transition. 
  • Cultivate a Supportive Network: Surround yourself with understanding family members, friends, and mental health professionals who can offer encouragement. Having a strong support system can provide comfort during difficult times and strengthen your commitment to sobriety.
  • Prioritize Self-Care: Incorporate regular exercise, nutritious meals, adequate sleep, and relaxation techniques like meditation or deep breathing into your day. Taking care of your body and mind enhances your resilience and helps you manage withdrawal symptoms more effectively.
  • Adopt Healthy Lifestyle Choices: Embrace a balanced and healthy lifestyle that supports your recovery. Avoid environments, people, or situations that may trigger cravings or jeopardize your progress. Cultivate new hobbies, interests, and routines that promote positive growth and provide a sense of fulfillment.

Remember, post-acute withdrawal syndrome is a temporary phase of your recovery journey. By actively implementing these strategies, you can navigate through this period with greater ease, empowering yourself to embrace a healthier, more fulfilling life free from substance dependence.

Effective Coping Strategies for PAWS

Successfully managing the symptoms of post-acute withdrawal syndrome is crucial to maintaining long-term recovery. Here are some practical coping strategies to navigate through PAWS and minimize its impact on your daily life:

  • Share Your Experience: Discuss your PAWS symptoms with your support groups, sponsor, counselor, therapist, or trusted family members. Openly communicating about your experiences with those who understand can provide validation and support.
  • Reflect and React: Analyze the events or triggers that precede a flare-up of PAWS symptoms. By recognizing patterns, you can anticipate and better manage future situations, ensuring you are not caught off-guard.
  • Embrace Journaling: Start a journal to document your experiences and emotions during PAWS. This practice can help you identify triggers and explore alternative ways of responding to challenging situations.
  • Manage Concentration Challenges: If you struggle with concentration, break tasks into shorter intervals. This approach allows for increased focus and minimizes feelings of overwhelm.
  • Break the Cycle: Interrupt patterns of feeling fixated on situations by engaging in different activities. Reach out to a friend, listen to uplifting music, or take a refreshing walk to shift your focus and perspective.
  • Enhance Memory: Overcome memory difficulties by writing things down or setting reminders on your phone. These strategies help improve organization and remember important information.
  • Cultivate Patience and Acceptance: Recognize that recovery takes time, and PAWS symptoms are part of the healing process. Embrace the mantra “this, too, shall pass” during challenging moments.

Making Active Choices Can Help Beat PAWS

By using these helpful strategies and staying positive, you have the power to navigate the challenges of PAWS and continue on your recovery journey. This journey will empower you to create a brighter future for yourself.

Find the caring help and personalized addiction treatment you or your loved one need to overcome substance use. Call Zinnia Health now at (855) 430-9439, and our dedicated professionals will connect you with nearby treatment options to address PAWS, guiding you toward long-lasting recovery.

Call us
Ready to get help?
(855) 430-9439
Why call us? Why call us