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What Is Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome?

Oct 25, 2023

Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS) is an often-overlooked roadblock in the complicated process of addiction treatment. As you begin your journey toward recovery, you may experience a persistent and frustrating set of symptoms that last beyond the first detox period. In this blog post, we will examine PAWS more closely and shed light on its effects, length, and management techniques for this lesser-known but important element of the recovery process.

In addiction treatment, PAWS is the acronym for Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome. It’s a prolonged withdrawal phase experienced by individuals recovering from substance addiction. Symptoms include mood swings, anxiety, depression, and sleep disturbances, persisting beyond the initial detox phase. By providing specialized care, Headwaters helps individuals navigate PAWS more effectively, promoting lasting recovery and improved mental health.

If you or a loved one need help, call our admissions team today at 561-270-1753.

What Is Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome?

PAWS is a syndrome that occurs after the initial withdrawal from substances such as drugs or alcohol. PAWS is a prolonged period of persistent and frequently unpredictable withdrawal symptoms that differs from the initial detox phase. Individuals in recovery may experience a variety of physical and psychological symptoms during this phase, including anxiety, depression, irritability, sleep difficulties, and cognitive challenges. PAWS in addiction can be a severe hurdle to long-term recovery since it can induce cravings and mental discomfort. Recognizing and managing PAWS is critical for those in recovery, and it frequently entails therapeutic treatments and support to address these lingering symptoms and encourage long-term sobriety.

How Can I Recognize PAWS Symptoms?

PAWS is characterized by a range of distressing symptoms, some of which are more prominent than others. Anxiety, melancholy, mood swings, impatience, and persistent cravings for the substance of abuse are among the most prevalent symptoms. Insomnia and vivid dreams are common sleep disruptions that contribute to fatigue and cognitive issues. Physical symptoms include headaches, perspiration, and a general feeling of discomfort.

Less common but no less significant symptoms include trouble concentrating, memory problems, increased sensitivity to stress, and emotional numbing. Individuals with PAWS may be more sensitive to stimuli in the environments around them, resulting in overstimulation or sensory discomfort. Physical symptoms can include gastrointestinal difficulties such as nausea and diarrhea. It is important to realize that the mix and intensity of PAWS symptoms can vary greatly among people in recovery, making individualized treatment and support necessary for navigating this challenging stage and sustaining long-term sobriety.

How Early Does PAWS Start?

PAWS often presents itself within the first few days to weeks after the first detox from drugs or alcohol. It might begin soon after acute withdrawal symptoms have passed. The precise timing could differ greatly based on individual characteristics such as the substance consumed, the duration of use, and the individual’s overall health. Individuals in recovery must be aware of the possibility of PAWS, as early detection and adequate assistance can substantially aid in the management of these remaining symptoms.

How Long Does PAWS Last?

The length of PAWS varies across individuals. In most situations, PAWS can last for several weeks to a few months after initial withdrawal. In the worst-case scenario, it could last far longer. The drug of abuse, the level of previous use, individual physiology, and the presence of co-occurring mental health conditions all influence the severity and length. While PAWS can be difficult to deal with, it’s imperative to remember that with the right treatment, support, and coping methods, people can progressively overcome their symptoms and work toward long-term recovery.

Finding Help for PAWS at Headwaters

Individuals suffering from Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome can receive personalized treatment at Headwaters. To address the chronic symptoms of PAWS, a holistic approach includes individualized therapy and support resulting in a more effective recovery journey. Individuals treated at Headwaters can learn how to manage the challenges of PAWS, experience emotional healing, and begin on a path toward long-term recovery and improved mental health through a combination of counseling, coping methods, and peer support.

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Bedroom at HeadwatersHanley Foundation’s Headwaters is a non-profit addiction treatment program for executives, public figures, other affluent individuals, and their loved ones. Headwaters offers leading-edge, personalized clinical care for mental health and substance use disorders, and our professional and compassionate staff can help you achieve holistic wellness. To start your healing journey, call 561-270-1753 today.

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