Learn the Signs and Risks of Opioid Abuse Because opioids... Read More
Written By Legacy Healing Center - Apr 30 2020
Table of Contents
Post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) is a collection of serious physical and emotional withdrawal symptoms which are a major factor contributing to relapse. Recognizing and managing the symptoms of PAWS early on helps to ensure long-term success in recovery.
Alcohol and drug withdrawal is the result of the toxic effects these chemicals have on the brain and body. Acute withdrawal refers to the symptoms that occur when a substance-dependent person abruptly stops taking that substance. Both illicit and prescription drugs can cause withdrawal. Acute Withdrawal may last anywhere from a few days to a couple weeks.
In the first days and weeks following cessation of drug and alcohol use, individuals may experience acute withdrawal symptoms. Whether mildly unpleasant or seriously uncomfortable, these withdrawal symptoms are often severely prevalent in the early stages of recovery from alcohol or drug addiction.
While withdrawal refers primarily to the body’s process of healing, a second phase of withdrawal symptoms known as post-acute withdrawal syndrome, or PAWS, occurs as the brain recalibrates after active addiction. These symptoms, unlike the first stage of acute withdrawal, persist after acute withdrawal has resolved. They often come and go unexpectedly and typically involve more of the psychological and emotional aspects of withdrawal. Depending on the duration and intensity of the addiction and what substance was being abused, this secondary withdrawal syndrome can occur from a few weeks into recovery to few months and even a year after abstinence.
Concerningly, PAWS is one of the major factors contributing to relapse.
PAWS can occur with any intoxicating substance, but most often occurs from discontinuing the use of:
It is important to recognize that many of the unpleasant or uncomfortable sensations and feelings experienced early in the recovery process could be symptoms of PAWS. These include:
Because the medical risks associated with relapse are so severe, a comprehensive treatment plan is essential and should anticipate PAWS symptoms analyzing each person’s propensity for them. Drug and alcohol addiction treatment centers are largely successful because PAWS treatment begins immediately under the guidance of trained professionals. These treatment centers provide group and individual counseling to aid each recovering addict. They identify each addict’s unique circumstances and risk factors and tailor a personalized treatment plan for them.
During and after treatment, the more positive influences in a person’s life the better their chances for recovery. Close friends, family and co-workers are encouraged to participate in counseling so they can understand the full scope of PAWS symptoms as they will likely see and be affected by the recovering addict’s PAWS symptoms. These symptoms are often displayed in ways that appear irrational causing frustration for both the recovering addict and all those around them. Joint participation in the counseling sessions gives both the addict and their loved-ones effective tools to manage PAWS symptoms.
In addition, the following strategies helps reduce PAWS symptoms:
At Legacy Healing Center we understand that addiction and recovery are complex and multilayered. Our holistic approach to treatment supports your healing from the inside out addressing the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual factors. Our mission is to lay the foundation for you to recover, address underlying issues and get you on track to achieve a better life than you’ve ever dreamed possible.