Going through detox can be challenging, and acute withdrawal symptoms are often an uncomfortable experience for a person who is pursuing recovery. During acute alcohol or drug withdrawal, many people wisely choose to seek treatment from an alcohol or substance abuse treatment program to help them successfully navigate the experience. But what happens once withdrawal is over? For some people, symptoms of withdrawal can linger on even though the acute part of withdrawal is finished. This is called Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS) and can sometimes contribute to relapse if unmanaged. It can be helpful and empowering for people in recovery and their loved ones to learn some facts about PAWS, what it is and how it can be managed.
What is Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome?
The phenomenon of PAWS is still being studied. There are a few theories about why some people continue to experience symptoms after the acute withdrawal phase is over. It is important to note that PAWS is not a medical diagnosis but a term used to describe a set of symptoms that seem to occur for certain people. People in recovery from alcohol and drugs have been known to experience PAWS.
Some post-acute withdrawal syndrome symptoms are:
- Depression and anxiety
- Angry outbursts, irritability, and mood swings
- Sleep disruption
- Fatigue and unexplained body pain
- Brain fog and inability to focus
How to Navigate Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome
The most important thing to do to combat the symptoms of PAWS is to stick to your treatment program. It can be frustrating to experience symptoms long after quitting drinking or using drugs, but staying connected to your support network will provide the emotional, mental, and therapeutic resources to get you through the tough times.
Some things to do to help PAWS symptoms in the short term are:
- Take some time to read up on PAWS (like you are doing now) and remind yourself that it is a process you are going through, not a permanent situation.
- Make sure to practice self-care. Try meditation, prayer, having a comforting cup of tea, or taking a hot bath. It won’t make symptoms disappear, but it can help you feel better.
- Focus on your health by eating nutritious food, staying hydrated, and getting some light exercise daily.
- Talk to a trusted friend who supports your recovery or attend a meeting. Make sure to stay in safe, recovery-focused places.
- Think back over your recovery milestones and set some new goals for yourself. You’ve come this far already, and there are many more great things that you will do. Reward yourself in a healthy and appropriate way for your accomplishments.
How To Support a Loved One Who Is Experiencing PAWS
To an outsider, the symptoms of PAWS can be difficult to understand. However, people in recovery need the support of their loved ones to stay on the right track. If someone you care about is in recovery but still experiencing some symptoms of PAWS, here are some ways you can help:
- Be there to listen. Having a person to talk to that is supportive of recovery is vital for people who are struggling.
- Learn as much as you can about addiction, recovery, and PAWS
- Offer to do things together or attend meetings for loved ones of people in recovery
Liberty Health Services Can Help
If you or someone you care about is experiencing post-acute withdrawal syndrome or struggling with addiction and recovery, contact one of our caring and compassionate staff today at 855.959.4521. Located in Derry, New Hampshire, we at Liberty Health Services are committed to helping our clients and their families navigate the whole recovery process.