When it comes to getting clean, most are well-acquainted with the idea that there is a necessary detox phase that must happen to get the remaining drugs out of your system. Many do not realize that detox is a two-step process consisting of the acute withdrawal stage and post-acute withdrawal syndrome or PAWS for short.
What happens in the acute withdrawal stage are the physical sensations we most often associate with withdrawal symptoms, including nausea, headaches, muscle aches, or sweating. Post-acute withdrawal syndrome follows the acute stage and has more psychological effects than physical.
How Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome Feels
In PAWS, your brain tries to reorient itself to functioning without the influx of drugs it’s been used to operating with. Therefore, this withdrawal phase includes mood swings, anxiety, depression, sleep disturbances, cravings, irritability, or lack of focus.
These symptoms occur since the brain is struggling to stabilize and correct the resulting chemical imbalances from previous drug abuse. These are all temporary symptoms that come and go, but the PAWS phase lasts different lengths for everyone depending on their bodies and the types of drugs they were addicted to, lasting up to several months for some.
Managing PAWS Symptoms
Taking excellent care of yourself and making use of proactive interventions is necessary to help you avoid relapse during this time. Using essential self-care habits like eating well, getting enough sleep, surrounding yourself with positive, supportive people, and exercising will do you a favor during this phase and the rest of your recovery.
Since you will experience many emotional swings during this time, it’s important to be sure you have appointments lined up with your care team of mental health professionals, so you can constructively talk about what you’re going through. Talking through your feelings will help you feel supported through this time. Attending meetings and being open about what you’re experiencing with loved ones will help alleviate some of the heaviness from you solely carrying your discomfort.
Lastly, it is imperative to avoid triggering situations or people as you are more sensitive to stressful stimuli during this time and trying to recover.
Post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) is the second phase of withdrawals, as the brain balances itself after drug abuse. It is a time to focus on your healing and recovery and when you should focus on putting your mental and emotional needs first to feel secure in your sobriety in the future. If you or a loved one is struggling to get or remain sober, call Avalon Malibu. We specialize in treating substance abuse and co-occurring mental health disorders. We are passionate about providing our clients with the support they need and finding a treatment that will help them lead happier, more balanced lives. For more information on how we can help you achieve your goals, call (844) 857-5992.