Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome, or PAWS, is a serious condition that can occur after someone has gone through the process of detoxing and withdrawing from drugs or alcohol. It is characterized by a range of symptoms that can last for months or even years after the initial detoxification period. In this blog post, we’ll explore what causes PAWS, what its effects are, and how it can be managed.
What Is PAWS?
Post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) refers to a range of mental and physical symptoms that occur in some individuals following the cessation of heavy drinking. These symptoms can range from mild discomfort to severe impairment and usually last anywhere from several weeks to several months after stopping drinking. Common symptoms include depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances, fatigue, irritability, difficulty concentrating, and poor motivation.
The Impact of Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome on Recovery
For individuals in recovery from an alcohol use disorder, post-acute withdrawal syndrome can have a major impact on their progress and well-being. The presence of physical and mental health symptoms related to PAWS may make it difficult for individuals to stay motivated or consistent with attending counseling sessions or support groups. Additionally, the intensity of cravings experienced during post-acute withdrawal syndrome may put individuals at risk for relapse if not managed properly through medical supervision or treatment programs.
Symptoms of PAWS
The physical and psychological symptoms of post-acute withdrawal syndrome vary from person to person. Common symptoms include cognitive impairment, fatigue, depression, anxiety, insomnia, irritability, impaired concentration, and memory loss. Other possible signs include poor impulse control, mood swings, nightmares or flashbacks related to past traumatic events, decreased ability to handle stressors, and increased sensitivity to anxiety or depression triggers.
What Causes PAWS?
The exact cause of PAWS is not fully understood by medical professionals. However, some believe that prolonged exposure to alcohol changes the way an individual’s brain functions over time. This changes the chemical balance in the brain, which may lead to longer-lasting withdrawal symptoms such as those seen in PAWS. Additionally, individuals who have been drinking heavily for extended periods of time are more likely to suffer from PAWS than those who have only had short periods of heavy drinking.
The good news is that there are ways to manage the symptoms of post-acute withdrawal syndrome. The most important thing you can do is take care of yourself physically—eat healthy meals and snacks throughout the day; get enough sleep; exercise regularly; drink plenty of water, and avoid stress as much as possible. In addition, practicing relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation can help reduce stress levels and improve your overall sense of well-being.
It’s also important to stay connected with family members or close friends who can provide emotional support during this challenging time. Finally, if necessary, seek professional help from a therapist or counselor specializing in addiction recovery or post-alcohol trauma. A therapist from an alcohol rehab facility can help you learn new coping skills and create an individualized treatment plan that works for you.
Receiving Help with PAWS
Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome is a serious condition that affects many individuals who have undergone detoxification for drug or alcohol abuse. Symptoms include physical fatigue, nausea, muscle aches, headaches, dizziness, mental confusion, depression, anxiety, insomnia, anhedonia—inability to experience pleasure—and more, which can all last for months after the initial detoxification period.
However, there are ways to manage these symptoms, such as getting enough sleep each night, eating nutritious meals regularly, exercising, getting professional help, building a support system, setting attainable goals, etc. Taking these steps will help alleviate some of your withdrawal symptoms and increase your chances of long-term sobriety in the recovery journey ahead.