Many people may think that once the detoxing process is over, the symptoms of withdrawal are over. In some cases that might be true, but researchers are beginning to study a syndrome called post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS). Post-acute withdrawal syndrome is a collection of symptoms that persists for weeks or even months after the acute phase of withdrawal from certain substances. Treatment programs and detox centers across the country are on the front lines of treating those who experience PAWS, as well as educating the public about this poorly understood condition.
Like many other syndromes, not every person will experience all of the symptoms or even the same combination of symptoms. Some of the most common symptoms of post-acute withdrawal syndrome include:
- Cognitive difficulties sometimes called “brain fog”
- Anxiety, panic attacks, depression, or other psychiatric symptoms
- Unusual irritability or angry outbursts
- Trouble sleeping
- Lack of interest in or difficulty maintaining social relationships
- Craving substances that have been previously abused even after detox
These are serious symptoms that could negatively impact your life. Getting the proper help from trained professionals is the best way to ensure that you are avoiding any issues in your personal life as a result of PAWS. Although always serious, these symptoms could also be signs of other syndromes, in which case it is important to properly assess if you are indeed suffering PAWS and not another ailment that causes similar issues. The best way of doing so is to take a look at some recent behaviors and whether they could be the ones causing these symptoms.
How Is PAWS Treated?
When a person is experiencing PAWS, many techniques and therapies already being used as part of a substance abuse treatment program can help manage the symptoms. Avoiding relapse, which is one of the main goals of a drug treatment program, is also one of the main goals when caring for a client experiencing symptoms of PAWS.
Some of the treatments that may be offered include:
- Therapeutic interactions, such as counseling and group therapy
- Educating the client about what to expect at each stage of the recovery process
- Encouraging the client to improve diet and exercise habits to promote health
- Frequent check-ins along with positive reinforcement for achieving milestones
- Promotion of good lifestyle habits such as proper sleep hygiene
Working with professionals is advised since there are many steps in the process. Holistic approaches are highly recommended to positively distract the mind from intense cravings. Trying new hobbies, exercising, and especially watching one’s diet, can help prevent relapse. With unique methods like cognitive-behavioral therapy and medically monitored detoxes, a person can sustain life-long sobriety.
What Is PAWS Syndrome? Is it a Medical Condition?
No. Post–acute withdrawal syndrome is more of a descriptive term for a collection of symptoms. It is the subject of research in the medical and psychological fields in hopes that someday, even more effective strategies can be developed to help those struggling with substance use disorders. In the future, research into the symptoms of PAWS could also help medical and counseling professionals better understand the process of detox, withdrawal, and recovery from substance use disorder.
Regardless of whether or not PAWS is considered a medical diagnosis, the symptoms with which clients often struggle are genuine and to be taken seriously. For this reason, it is always the best idea to seek professional treatment for substance use disorder. The process of entering and maintaining recovery can be much less complex with appropriate support and treatments.
Choose Our Rehabilitation Center in Florida
Understanding what post-acute withdrawal syndrome is important but if you or somebody you know is in need of assistance with their substance abuse problem, then getting professional help on the road to recovery is essential. Contact the team at Pines Recovery Life Detox to get in touch with the expert team who will get you started on the right path towards a healthy and happy life. If you are interested in more breakdowns, tips, or insights from our team, then feel free to read some of our other rehabilitation articles.