Around the world, 35 million people suffer from drug use disorders, with only about one in seven receiving the care they need to get sober. Many people hesitate to get help for problems with drugs and alcohol due to the fear of going through withdrawal — especially post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS). Learn more about PAWS from our opiate rehab in Prescott.
What Is Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome?
Most people know about acute withdrawal symptoms, which can range from mild to severe depending on the duration of the addiction, the substance used, and many other factors.
Not many know that some substances cause a protracted withdrawal phase, which can last for several months. When withdrawal symptoms last past the medical detox phase of treatment, medical professionals call this Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome, or PAWS. In some cases, symptoms of PAWS may last for years.
The most common substances that cause PAWS are:
Chronic substance use leads to changes in your body that occur at the cellular, molecular, and neural levels. These changes affect your moods and behaviors and last well beyond the acute withdrawal phase. These changes cause PAWS.
The symptoms of PAWS include:
- Mood swings
- Limited ability to think clearly or focus
- Memory problems
- Sleep problems
- Lack of libido
- Inexplicable chronic pain
- Inability to feel pleasure
- Impaired executive control
These common symptoms are milder than what you’d experience during acute withdrawal when you first stop using a substance, but they can still interfere with your life. Because your brain needs time to adjust to functioning correctly without drugs or alcohol, it can take months for you to feel like you’re back to normal again.
Diagnosis and Treatment of PAWS
Since the symptoms of PAWS are so diverse and sometimes very general, diagnosing it can be a challenge. Addiction treatment programs will focus on your symptoms to get a sense if you have PAWS, paying particular attention to when these symptoms develop.
Each substance can have specific symptoms and its unique schedule, so understanding this is vital for you and those guiding you.
The professionals at an opiate rehab in Prescott can help in the diagnosis of PAWS and recommend treatment to avoid a relapse.
Common Methods to Help with PAWS Symptoms
Since the symptoms of PAWS may look different depending on the person, the treatment will also look different.
Stay Healthy Mentally
It would be best if you also practiced positive self-talk. When going through symptoms of PAWS day after day, falling into negative thinking patterns can easily happen. Negative thinking quickly leads to negative moods, which affect your actions. Instead, be kind to yourself and have patience.
Stay Healthy Physically
Keep yourself physically active. Exercise of any sort helps alleviate tension while also boosting your mood, especially if you exercise outdoors. Something as simple as going for a walk helps manage symptoms of PAWS.
Talk, Talk, Talk
Speak with others about what you’re experiencing. Isolation makes the recovery process much more complex, so reaching out to loved ones or support groups makes a difference. Speaking with others who are also battling addiction or who may be experiencing similar symptoms lets you see that you are not alone and that there’s help available when you need it.
Memory Issues after Addiction
One of the frustrating symptoms of PAWS is memory issues. These can make daily life even more complex and might interfere with your job or relationships. To help yourself, start keeping a journal. Write down everything from essential parts of conversations you want to remember to your daily tasks. You can set up a checklist to ensure you don’t forget anything.
Turn to relaxation techniques for help with anxiety. Anxiety is a common symptom of PAWS, and it can make sleeping more difficult. Practicing a few relaxing exercises, like deep breathing or even yoga, makes it possible for your brain to settle so that you experience less anxiety.
It would be best if you also avoided triggers. For people who are just starting their recovery process, it may mean staying away from people, situations, and locations that remind them of substance abuse. When dealing with PAWS, the added stress of a trigger could put your sobriety in danger.
Stay the Course
It’s essential to keep up with your therapies or other treatments. Therapy sessions allow you to express what you’re going through without worrying about anyone judging you. Group therapy is also crucial for this exact reason.
Get Help at an Opiate Rehab in Prescott
If you are struggling with an addiction or turning to a rehab center, Silver Sands Recovery can be the right choice. We offer the guidance you need to manage acute withdrawal and post-acute withdrawal syndrome so that you can focus on achieving long-term sobriety.
With our team of experts, we provide holistic treatment options, 12-step programs, and much more to give help to those who need it. We offer personalized programs that encourage you to focus on what works for you. For those who have a dual diagnosis, we also provide programs that treat substance abuse and the mental health concerns you face.
Finding your way back to sober living is possible, and we can help you achieve it. Contact Silver Sands Recovery to learn more about our treatment options.
About the author:
Lisa Waknin is the Founder and Director of Silver Sands Recovery, located in Prescott, Arizona. Lisa started Silver Sands Recovery after immersing herself in the addiction treatment world for several years to figure out what could be done differently to help her daughter and others like her to overcome addiction and stay sober. She believes in a hands-on treatment approach, which includes taking someone out of their environment, providing a 90-day program in a structured environment. During treatment, clients not only recover physically but also learn to live their life again. Lisa is a sought-after expert speaker for recovery support groups, charities, schools, communities, and companies wanting to educate themselves on the explosion of opiate and heroin abuse in our country and the best way to understand, treat, and beat it.