Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome and Recovery

Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome and Recovery

Leading a life in recovery can bring about many challenges and struggles. During the recovery journey, when people are working to maintain abstinence and sobriety, they often struggle with post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS), which can drastically change the course of their recovery.

It is vital to have a stable support system, environment, and treatment plan to persist past PAWS to continue leading a life of abstinence. At Roots Recovery, we support clients through their entire recovery journey, even after treatment. This way, we can ensure those in addiction recovery have the tools to move beyond these barriers. 

What Is Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome?

PAWS occurs when the body undergoes physical and mental responses to a sudden and drastic decrease in alcohol or drug consumption. When a person in recovery first goes through their detox stage, the first few days after the fact can result in PAWS. Symptoms can last between a few days and a few weeks. 

For alcohol withdrawal, clients may experience symptoms like anxiety, hostility, irritability, depression, mood swings, fatigue or insomnia, difficulty concentrating, decreased sex drive, or physical pain. PAWS may persist for one to three years after consumption stops.

When stopping the consumption of other substances, clients may experience anxiety, insomnia, restlessness, strange dreams, other sleep difficulties, depression, fatigue, irritability, memory problems, cravings, or decreased control functions. Depending on the substance, PAWS may persist anywhere between weeks and months.

These symptoms persist due to alterations in brain chemistry from alcohol or drug use. When the brain no longer has these substances triggering neurotransmitters and endorphins, PAWS can occur. Re-adjusting the brain can take a long time, depending on how long the person abused substances. 

How Does PAWS Impact a Person’s Recovery?

After the detox period of treatment and recovery when PAWS surfaces, some people feel the need to return to substance use. In other words, many clients relapse as a result of PAWS.

Self-medication disrupts the recovery process, feeding into the client’s addiction and requiring another detox. While recovery is not linear, it is vital to break this dependence on substances. Clients have developed a physical dependence on their substance through active addiction. Dependence is what leads to uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms and further cravings for the substance in return. This cycle must be broken to achieve recovery.

How Can You Cope With PAWS to Avoid Relapse?

Coping with PAWS can be difficult for those in recovery. To prevent relapse, the following may help individuals maintain abstinence:

  • Educating oneself on PAWS and understanding that this is a common experience in the early stages of recovery
  • Celebrating one’s accomplishment of detoxing and beginning treatment to encourage oneself to persist past PAWS
  • Visiting healthcare providers for guidance on the journey
  • Implementing stable sleep habits to prevent sleep disturbances
  • Practicing mental and physical exercises to improve sleep and emotional states, decrease stress levels, avoid triggers, and distract oneself from symptoms
  • Medication provided by healthcare providers or recovery team
  • Practicing patience with oneself during this time
  • Therapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) to manage impulse control and improve problem-solving skills

Coping With PAWS at Roots Recovery

At Roots Recovery, we offer several different treatment options for those in their recovery journeys. We believe these help clients persist past PAWS in the early stages. As a result, our programs help clients maintain longevity in their abstinence. 

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

MAT is a service offered at Roots that uses medications that prevent cravings, limit symptoms, and more. This is partnered with therapies such as CBT, designed for those who struggle to combat cravings on their own.

Medication is prescribed by the doctor and managed by our medical team. This is done to avoid chronic relapse. Each client is different, so the duration of one’s MAT service may be short-term or long-term until the client feels ready to manage sobriety without medication assistance.

Partial Hospitalization Program

The partial hospitalization program (PHP) at Roots Recovery is a follow-up care service to help clients avoid relapsing. This program allows clients to stay at home while receiving intensive treatment during the day.

We curate a treatment plan for each client that allows them to carry on with their daily lives outside of treatment. Group therapy, individual therapy, family counseling, and other treatment services are incorporated into the plan while allowing the clients to stay in their preferred environment. 

Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention (MBRP)

MBRP is a therapy practiced to bring mindfulness to clients who suffer from addictive trappings and tendencies of the mind. Clients develop a deeper understanding of themselves by learning to take control of their triggers, destructive habits, and “automatic” reactions or impulses. These practices help clients think about these aspects of themselves and bring themselves back to the present moment. They teach them that they have control over their actions and do not need to turn to substances. 

Motivational Interviewing

Another service we offer at Roots is motivational interviewing. This works similarly to MBRP, where clients practice mindfulness to increase trigger awareness and mitigate destructive habits. With motivational interviewing, the client works to understand themselves and the control they have. In doing so, they learn to work through situations on their own to make better choices. 

Here at Roots Recovery, we help clients persist past post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS). Symptoms can reveal themselves days, weeks, months, and years after detoxing. After detoxing, many clients experience these symptoms and feel the need to turn to substances. Relapse at this early stage can be incredibly worrisome. Roots, however, provides a safe environment for clients to work through PAWS and learn coping mechanisms to move beyond it without turning to alcohol or substances. Treatment, such as in our medication-assisted treatment program, is offered for clients who struggle with cravings. An anti-craving remedy may be a beneficial path for their recovery to reduce the need for substances. To learn more about our programs, call (562) 473-0827.

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