What is Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS) and What Causes It?

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If you have experienced a hangover after a night of celebration, you are familiar with mild withdrawal symptoms: headache, nausea, abdominal pain, even anxiety, and depression. 

Someone who drinks like that every day, or is dealing with drug abuse, will have much more severe withdrawal symptoms when they decide to quit, which can last a few days to a few weeks. But it doesn’t end there. 75% of alcohol-dependent patients then experience Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS). 90% of opioid-dependent people experience Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome from opiates. Don’t worry. Summit Malibu can help.

What is Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome?

When someone becomes substance-dependent, their brain goes through chemical changes to adapt to the influx of the mood-altering substance. PAWS occurs after you are physically free of drugs and alcohol, but still dealing with the psychological side of sobriety. These symptoms can last for years in some recovery heroes.

PAWS is characterized by ongoing symptoms that are mostly emotional and mood-related, such as:

  • Irritability
  • Stress sensitivity
  • Mood swings
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Negativity
  • Guilt
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Memory issues
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • Disrupted sleep patterns
  • Fatigue

Treatment of PAWS

A recovering substance-dependent person can help themselves work through the symptoms of PAWS through nutrition, exercise, and meditation. To ensure success in maintaining sobriety, it is best to also include assistance from medical professionals.

You may do best with individual therapy, support groups, or family therapy. This assistance is as individualized as you are, so look for a center that has a wide variety of treatment options.

You Are Not Alone

Summit Malibu is here to help. We have valuable resources available to help you learn more about the effects of drug and alcohol use and the treatment options.

If you are worried about the substance-dependency of yourself or a loved one, contact us now. We are available 24/7 to answer your questions and help you get the help that is needed.