Upon researching drug and alcohol withdrawal, you might have come across the acronym PAWS. Otherwise known as post-acute withdrawal syndrome, it can be challenging to understand PAWS, especially when there is an overload of information and plenty of unfamiliar terms used.
If you are hoping to understand what PAWS is, you have come to the right place. After reading this article, you will have a clearer understanding of this term and how it applies to withdrawal.
So, What Are PAWS?
Withdrawing from drugs or alcohol can be a painful and intense challenge. As harmful toxins leave the body, many unpleasant withdrawal symptoms are experienced. The severity of withdrawal symptoms can vary from person to person depending on a variety of factors such as:
- The type of substance abused
- Family history
- Underlying mental health issues
- Physical health
- How long substances are abused for
Although withdrawal symptoms are, as touched on above, somewhat unpleasant, they often alleviate after a few weeks. However, for some in recovery, withdrawal symptoms persist for months or even years after abstaining from drugs or alcohol. This is known as PAWS.
Encompassing symptoms that someone may feel after acute withdrawal symptoms reduce, PAWS are considered psychological. In contrast, acute symptoms are mainly physical.
PAWS can affect someone’s emotional well-being, stability, and behavior. They can often be more difficult to cope with than physical withdrawal symptoms. Limited understanding of PAWS or being unprepared for how best to deal with them can make the experience more frightening and intense.
How Can I Manage PAWS?
Like many other withdrawal symptoms, PAWS can be effectively managed. Below, we share some tips on how best to manage PAWS:
Have a Support System in Place
Having a network around you who will support you upon experiencing PAWS is extremely important, as is having a support system throughout your recovery journey.
Not only can having a support system encourage you to maintain your sobriety, but it can also help you remain motivated. For many people in recovery, support systems include family members, close friends, or a sober support group.
Anybody who genuinely wants you to succeed in your recovery journey will act as a pillar of comfort. They will also help you feel less isolated - a feeling that can be detrimental to someone’s health and well-being and exacerbate PAWS symptoms.
Experiencing PAWS will make you more susceptible to relapse due to the toll it takes on your mental health. This is why it is so important to avoid anything that may act as a trigger.
For example, if you experience PAWS, avoiding certain people or places is in your best interest. Likewise, avoiding objects or smells associated with the time you were using drugs or alcohol is advised.
Having a daily routine will help you to feel accomplished, motivated, and in control. It will also help to stave off feelings of boredom or overthinking, which can intensify during PAWS.
Though many people think that having a daily routine means planning every second of your day, a routine could be as simple as including meditation, exercise, or cooking a healthy meal. It could also involve participating in calming activities such as yoga, listening to music, or being creative.
Establishing a healthy routine will minimize stress and thus decrease the intensity of PAWS.
Talk to Someone
While talking to someone and sharing your thoughts and feelings can be daunting, doing so can make coping with PAWS much easier. This could be a friend or family member you trust and who will hear what you have to say without judging you. This could also be a professionally trained therapist.
Opening up and being vulnerable can be tricky. However, doing so is incredibly rewarding as it will help you to understand yourself better. You’ll also feel much more supported.
Experiencing PAWS may feel disheartening. It may also feel as though your recovery journey is being undermined. But it is important to remember that recovery is a process that you can overcome, so don’t give up!
By implementing measures to motivate and encourage you, you can stay on track in your recovery and have the necessary support to overcome PAWS - contact us for more help and information.