When someone who is addicted to drugs or alcohol stops using, they will go through a period of withdrawal. The first stage is the one that most people are familiar with: the acute stage. During the acute stage of withdrawal, you can experience the physical symptoms of withdrawal such as shaking, vomiting or headaches. The acute stage lasts a few weeks, at most (less with medically-supervised detox and holistic therapies). But once this stage is over, another one can follow: the post acute stage.
What Is Post Acute Withdrawal?
Not everyone who stops using drugs or alcohol will experience post acute withdrawal. But if you do, this withdrawal stage can start a couple of weeks into recovery and can last for some time after. Symptoms usually peak around six months. The post acute stage tends to be less severe than the acute stage and involves mostly psychological and emotional symptoms.
The reason why Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome, or PAWS, occurs, is because your brain chemistry is slowly returning to normal. As the brain improves, the levels of brain chemicals fluctuate and can cause PAWS.
Symptoms Of PAWS
The most common symptoms include:
- Fuzzy thinking
- Difficulty concentrating
- Memory problems
- Trouble managing stress
- Lack of coordination
- Depression or anxiety
- Mood swings
- Problems sleeping
- Obsessive compulsive disorder
- Feelings of guilt
What Does PAWS Feel Like?
Living with PAWS is like riding a rollercoaster of emotions. One minute you’re up, the next you’re down. In early recovery, your mood can go from one extreme to the next in a matter of minutes. But keep your chin up. Recovery does get easier, and the symptoms of PAWS lessen over time.
If you do suffer from a post acute withdrawal episode, it can last a few days. There doesn’t have to be a trigger, which makes episodes difficult to prevent. You may wake up one day with low energy and have a hard time shaking the feeling. Follow your aftercare plan and know that the episode will be over in a few days.
Strategies To Effectively Deal With Post Acute Withdrawal
In the meantime, here are a few things you can do to effectively handle PAWS.
- Be patient – As you learned in recovery, take your emotions and symptoms one day at a time. There’s no reason to rush through recovery. If you do, you can become drained and make it much more difficult for yourself.
- Be flexible – Don’t freak out if you’re having a bad day, be flexible when things don’t go as planned. When you’re upset, think to yourself “Will this matter in an hour, tomorrow, in a week, a month?” This helps to put things into perspective.
- Practice self-care – Remember to treat yourself well. For so long, you didn’t. Now is the time take care of yourself and learn and grow.
- Find ways to relax – Meditation, yoga, reading, journaling, going on a walk etc. are all outlets to relieve stress and anxiety.
PAWS Treatment At The Dunes
At The Dunes, we believe that addiction is a disorder that manifests in different ways. As a client of ours, our staff will identify, examine and treat the factors that led to your addiction and its persistence in your life. Your individualized treatment plan will include many components that are intended to help you through withdrawal.
We understand that the emotional and psychological effects of withdrawal can be debilitating, which is why we will teach you real-world ways to deal with the stress and lower your risk of relapse. Your treatments may also include any of the following:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
- Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)
- Family and experiential therapies
- Spiritual counseling
- Equine therapy
- And more!
To learn more about our holistic approach to recovery and how to make your journey the most comfortable it can be, please call The Dunes East Hampton today.