Post-acute withdrawal syndrome, also known as PAWS, is described as a prolonged withdrawal to drugs and alcohol. Withdrawal usually only lasts up to a few weeks, but an addict is more prone to PAWS if they had long-term addiction or used larger amounts of drugs and alcohol. Depending on the drug of choice also depends on how the symptoms will affect the addict, but there are some common symptoms that can persist.
Common Symptoms of PAWS
- Memory problems
- Exhaustion, fatigue, or insomnia
- Poor concentration
- Mood Swings
- Cognitive Impairment
- Emotional numbness
- Lack of initiative
- Suicidal thoughts
PAWS hardly ever involves pain and nausea like withdrawal is normally associated with. These ongoing symptoms are mainly psychological and mood related developing after the acute withdrawal has gone away. The post-acute withdrawal can be just as intense though, putting the addict in jeopardy of relapse to relieve the discomfort they are feeling. Symptoms can arise due to triggers or for no reason at all.
PAWS and Alcohol
Cravings, exhaustion, depression, and anxiety come and go unexpectedly. In the 1990s the term PAWS was first defined for alcohol use disorder. Sudden cessation of alcohol increased the likelihood of PAWS.
PAWS and Benzodiazepines
Benzodiazepines induce the most prolonged withdrawal effects for years after physical dependence has gone away. Withdrawal of benzos can mimic panic disorders.
PAWS and Stimulants
Psychological symptoms of PAWS creates depression, paranoia, impulse control problems, and anhedonia due to the adaptations in the brain causing PAWS.
PAWS and Opioids
Cognitive impairment does not normally go away for a long period of time with PAWS. It also ignites extreme exhaustion and cravings.
Seeking help from a counselor or a therapist is recommended since the symptoms of PAWS are more psychological and emotional in nature. Understanding the symptoms can be helpful in pinpointing what the symptoms are in each addict.
Coping with PAWS
- Dietary adjustments
Healthy foods can help decrease the intensity of PAWS. Vegetables, whole grains, fruits, lean proteins, and healthy fats can reduce symptoms.
- Regulate sleep
Sleep is not always easy to attain with PAWS. Try getting a pattern started by going to bed at the same time each night and waking up at the same time each morning.
Physical activity is a great way to promote healing in the body and the brain by eliminating anxiety.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
Flawed thinking and behavioral changes can be implemented with the help of a professional.
- Positive Outlook
Patience and encouragement can make a difference in perception. Celebrate small victories that are ignited by recovery.
Use a support system on the road to recovery. 12-Step programs and therapy are useful to keep ongoing progress.
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