Once detox is complete, a person begins the real work of recovery. It’s in the weeks and months following initial treatment that you identify challenges to your recovery and find the tools to overcome them. Better understanding post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) helps position people to more easily navigate this important time in the recovery process. PAWS is the stage of withdrawal that follows the initial detoxification period. During this time, a person’s brain is adjusting to substance deficiencies. It can last for several weeks, months or perhaps even longer, depending on the extent and duration of substance use. Research continues to reveal more about this condition, and how it impacts those in recovery. Professionals that work with people who suffer from PAWS know that everyone in addiction recovery has a very different experience is this second stage of withdrawal. As the body of research grows, it’s important to recognize challenges and identify solutions for people experiencing PAWS. From the perspective of the addiction treatment community, further research will better equip professionals to address the challenges facing those in recovery. From the perspective of people currently in treatment, understanding post-acute withdrawal syndrome symptoms and knowing how to address them is key during this critical period.
Signs of Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome
Once acute withdrawal ends, a person in recovery might notice several different symptoms associated with PAWS, including…
- Chronic pain,
- Impulsive behavior,
- Mood swings,
- Irritability, and
Symptoms of PAWS could be stronger in some patients than others. They might also include several other symptoms not listed above. Everyone’s experience is different, so it’s important to be patient with yourself if you are currently in recovery. These symptoms will diminish with time, as long as your treatment and recovery strategy remain intact.
The Challenges of Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome
The fact that PAWS varies so widely from one person to another creates difficulties for both addiction treatment professionals and those in recovery. The substances one used while addicted is a factor, as is the length of someone’s substance use disorder. However, there are also variations among groups with similar histories. Two patients with similar substance use profiles might have very different experiences.
Coping with Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome
How you cope with PAWS depends on the symptoms you’re experiencing. Recovery is about finding the tools that work for you. Symptoms of PAWS will come and go, so remember that how you feel right now will change. Some strategies of coping with PAWS include…
- Recognizing and avoiding triggers for relapse.
- Consulting your case manager or other addiction treatment professionals.
- Finding drug-free sleep strategies.
- Exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy diet.
- Understanding that symptoms will not last forever.
- Being patient with yourself.
- Attending meetings and discussing the challenges you face.
Most importantly, never give up hope. PAWS is not a permanent condition. Just like the other challenges you’ve overcome to this point, managing these symptoms and moving forward will make you stronger.
Understanding Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome Requires Patience and Persistence
Because your journey is different from others, understand that you should never judge your experience by comparing it to someone else’s. Be patient with the process and trust your recovery strategy. If you feel that your treatment needs to be adjusted, don’t hesitate to discuss it with your counselors or case managers. Truly understanding post-acute withdrawal syndrome and the challenges it presents will take time. However, you’ll have several resources available to make the process manageable. Like addiction itself, this condition has no cure. However, you have tools available to manage it.
If You Need Help, Contact BRC Recovery
At BRC Recovery, we know that no one is beyond help. If you think you are resistant to treatment, we want to hear from you. Through our programs and services, we have convinced countless clients that they can live better lives through recovery. Contact our team today by calling 1-866-461-1759.