Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS) and the Recovery Process
There are two stages of withdrawal from alcohol and drugs and they are known as acute and post-acute withdrawal syndrome. The acute withdrawal phase deals with the physical symptoms of detox, whereas the post-acute withdrawal deals primarily with the emotional and mental symptoms that come after the acute phase is completed.
It is not uncommon for an addict or alcoholic to suffer from post-acute withdrawal syndrome anywhere from six months up to two years after last use. Long-term drug abuse and alcoholism can damage the nervous system and this helps produce the effects of PAWS. It takes time for the body and mind to heal, so please be patient with your loved one during this process.
Overwhelming feelings of guilt or remorse
Lack of focus
Increased sensitivity to stress
Blocking or numbness of memories and feelings
Social anxiety and trouble with interpersonal skills
Lack of motivation or initiative
Difficulty multitasking or completing simple tasks
Unrealistic expectations of self and others
Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome Treatment
There may be times where you just want to “fix” your loved one, but this is just part of the healing process. You can help by showing patience, understanding, and love. Allow your loved one to continue going to meetings and talking with their sober support or therapist if they have one. Let them know that you are there for them and that they will get through this. They will be just as frustrated with their behavior as you will be. PAWS is not permanent and as the addict/alcoholic heals, the symptoms of PAWS will eventually go away.
In the meantime, the person recovering will find the symptoms are helped by being hydrated, eating healthy, getting enough rest, exercising, and attending to their recovery program. Watching funny movies, mediating, journaling, getting a hobby, and playing games that work out the brain have also been proven to help alleviate PAWS symptoms.
Remember that your loved one is trying to live a new way of life that is completely foreign and frightening to them. It may frustrate you at times and you may even feel alone yourself. You are also going through a healing phase; make sure that you are taking care of yourself as well. Attending support groups like Al-anon, Nar-Anon, and Families Anonymous can greatly help you on your journey of recovery as well.
See more at: Dealing with PAWS