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When people first stop using drugs, they typically experience withdrawal for the first few days to two weeks. For some, the symptoms end after this acute period. Many others, however, continue to feel the effects because of post acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS). It’s important for people to know what to expect in case they experience it during their addiction recovery.
PAWS is a condition that has several terms, including post, prolonged and protracted withdrawal. It refers to a set of symptoms that some people with addiction experience after the immediate, acute withdrawal period.
Post withdrawal can be a huge barrier for those who want to recover from addiction. The symptoms depend on factors such as drug type, gender, age, weight, and general health. Although the symptoms themselves differ significantly, some of them are very common.
Anxiety is understandable because stopping drug use is a major life change for people with an addiction. Some of them even experience panic attacks. Similarly, mood swings occur as the brain adapts to drug-free living. Because of that, people can experience periods of depression or mania for no apparent reason.
The chemical imbalance in the brain can trigger cognitive problems too. These include difficulty maintaining concentration and thinking clearly. However, these effects are often temporary and don’t suggest permanent brain damage.
Sleep disturbances can occur when drug cravings manifest in people’s dreams. Since drugs affect sleep patterns, insomnia can develop as well. It can take time for the body to establish a healthy sleep cycle again. During this time, though, fatigue is likely from little or poor quality of sleep.
These effects can reduce people’s threshold for daily stress. For that reason, they could feel like trivial setbacks are the end of the world. They simply need to learn coping skills for recovery that don’t involve using drugs to deal with normal emotions. Other symptoms of post acute withdrawal syndrome include:
Alcohol and most recreational drugs can cause post acute withdrawal syndrome. With alcohol, the symptoms usually include exhaustion and long-term cravings. Marijuana can cause insomnia during post withdrawal.
Since doctors often prescribe antidepressants to treat depression, protracted withdrawal can involve intense depression. Benzodiazepines are medicines that treat panic and anxiety disorders. When people experience prolonged benzo withdrawal, they typically have cravings, fatigue, and insomnia. Antipsychotics treat delirium and hallucinations but can cause months of mood swings after acute withdrawal.
Opioids include prescription and illegal drugs that reduce pain and can create an intense high. People who experience PAWS because of opiates usually have cognitive issues, cravings, and exhaustion. With stimulants such as Adderall, Ritalin, cocaine, and meth, post withdrawal symptoms may involve deep depression, physical weakness, and fatigue.
It’s unfortunate that protracted withdrawal is a normal part of addiction recovery. However, people can manage it in several ways.
The best and safest way is to get help at a rehab center. The staff can provide medication assisted treatment that reduces the intensity of the symptoms. A rehab program can also provide in-depth education about why the symptoms linger after acute withdrawal.
Following rehab, people can use the information that they learned to reduce their own symptoms. During treatment, for example, they learn how to focus on their successes and positive changes. When their treatment ends, they can continue to practice these steps.
Also, staying active with exercise and physical activities helps the brain and body heal faster. It does so by restoring a healthy chemical balance and boosting the immune system. It’s also a natural way to reduce stress and anxiety, effectively lessening the effects of post acute withdrawal syndrome.
Are you ready to get treatment for addiction? You can get all the help you need from Beaches Recovery. We can assist you in arranging safe detox at Tides Edge. If you suffer from post withdrawal at any point during your rehab, we will provide support to treat the symptoms.
Aside from medications, Beaches Recovery offers a holistic approach that can help. Some of these include:
Don’t let fear of post acute withdrawal syndrome prevent you from seeking recovery. Get the PAWS treatment that you need today. Reach out to Beaches Recovery for more information at 866.605.0532.