PAWS- post acute withdrawal syndrome, is still not well known to addicts and alcoholics in recovery. Coincidentally, the “chip” dates of recovery, 30, 60, 90 days and six months are when PAWS tends to rear its head and cause heart ache for those in recovery. Long term treatment is the best solution to addiction because it gives those in recovery a safe and secure place to navigate PAWS and continue through treatment remaining sober.
Post acute withdrawal syndrome is the reappearance of early recovery symptoms. Symptoms of withdrawal and detox suddenly reappear as though it were yesterday. For those who do not understand PAWS, they are shocked and disappointed by sudden cravings and urges which they haven’t felt in weeks. PAWS is not a failure or a sign that you are regressing. Quite the contrary, PAWS means that you are progressing in your recovery and the harmful toxins of drugs and alcohol are continuing to leave your system. Don’t give up on your recovery yet, there is still more to do.
Symptoms Of PAWS
After finally finding some stability, PAWS can feel like being thrown back onto the roller coaster ride of early addiction. Symptoms of PAWS tends to pass in a short amount of time. Once these symptoms start to show up, equip yourself to handle or treat them, remembering that this too shall pass. Soon you will go back to feeling like normal. Symptoms can include:
- Shifting moods or feeling uncontrollable mood swings
- High anxiety, feeling anxious, worrying about trivial matters
- Being highly irritable and discontent
- Feeling exhausted with low energy and low motivation
- Difficulties concentrating, participating in therapy, and digesting new information
- Sudden appearance of obsessive thinking regarding drugs and alcohol or old behaviors
- Considering leaving treatment
- Severe cravings for drugs and alcohol
- Insomnia, using dreams, restlessness, and night terrors
Coming up on a chip or a token can be a triggering time. Though the brain is working hard to reprogram, it still holds on to memories. Each month or each year, there is a healthy reminder of what it was like. Despite the sad and scary memories, there are still some parts of the brain which light up with excitement remembering what it was like to drink and use. This creates a conflict, which can feel like a struggle. Your story in recovery is based on three parts: what it was like, what happened, and what it is like now. We call it experience, strength, and hope. Even as you feel distraught by PAWS, remember to focus on what has happened in your treatment so far and what you are like now compared to just a short time ago.
The fight against addiction can be victorious. Let the treatment programs at Design For Change show you the way. For information on our programs for addiction treatment and our recovery services, call (877) 267-3646.