Understanding Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome

Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS) is a prolonged withdrawal impairment that persists after a drug addict abstains from substance abuse. This condition has several symptoms, including insomnia, mood swings, and increased anxiety levels despite no apparent stimuli.


Due to PAWS’ complex nature and undefined timelines, some clients may not experience it and others will. According to https://impactrecoverycenter.net/, different people go through symptomatic periods followed by symptom-free durations. Personalized care is essential due to the diverse needs of each recovering client. With the approach of dealing with each case individually, long-term benefits are realized, and drug addicts may remain sober for the rest of their lives. Theories regarding the causes of PAWS are highlighted below.


Different recovering addicts are affected differently, and most individuals note the loss of social networks. If proper care is not given to such clients, relapses are bound to occur. However, loss of the habit may enhance psychological symptoms, including anxiety, cravings, depression, or exhaustion.

Physiological Adaptations

An influx of drugs causes parts of the body to depend on regulating digestion and hormone functions. Common withdrawal symptoms that reflect this include stomach cramps, diarrhea, nausea, and more rapid heart rate. These symptoms may take several weeks before such individuals return to normalcy.

Homeostatic Adjustment

Substance dependence changes brain chemistry with time. The chemicals present in drugs and alcohol facilitate triggering the release of neurotransmitters and endorphins. Long-term usage limits the brain’s functionality as it cannot reach the state of equilibrium without the trigger, which in this case is the substance abused by a client. The brain usually takes time to get homeostasis entirely without chemicals present in drugs. This condition is manifested by exhaustion, cravings, and mood swings.


Leaving the habit of depending on drugs is psychologically stressful. Individuals who try this approach alone without consulting a professional find it hard to accomplish. Such stress may lead to relapses and prolonged withdrawal symptoms.

Common PAWS Symptoms

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability, aggression, hostility
  • Insomnia
  • Impaired concentration
  • Mood swings
  • Increased stress sensitivity
  • Foggy thought process
  • Fatigue

Coping With PAWS

PAWS is severe in the beginning, and clients may experience mixed feelings. Mood swings ranging from happy, irritable, and sad are bound to occur. This stage is overwhelming at first. However, good progress will enable the dissipation of such symptoms. Due to the unpredictable nature of symptoms, they may be experienced by people, and they form a significant barrier for substance-use disorder recovery. Always be patient, and the symptoms will decrease rapidly as long as there is continued abstinence from substance use. The healthy coping strategies to overcome the discomforting symptoms include.

Educate Self On PAWS

Gaining information regarding the various symptoms is crucial to coping with unexpected symptoms. Proper preparations prevent the risk of relapse. Learn how to best manage the various symptoms.

Practice Selfcare

Managing PAWS symptoms requires essential self-care, especially during the first 12-48 months. Being good at self-work helps establish conducive mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing. Apply self-care practices including meditation, healthy meals, and expressing emotions to close friends, family members, and therapists.

Keep a Notepad

Utilize a notebook to track daily routine schedules, to-do lists, and other relevant information. Make use of smartphones to schedule daily reminder appointments and complete tasks to prevent forgetting crucial commitments and responsibilities. Write down and set up reminders on mobile phones at all times.

Talk And Share Experiences

Consider sharing information on the various symptoms experienced. Consult a professional counselor, or consider talking to close friends and family members. Utilize platforms that will minimize judging when expressing yourself.

Patients with PAWS should seek medical care to help in managing withdrawal symptoms. Attempting to quit substance abuse without the help of a professional may result in relapse. A seasoned practitioner will help clients recover fully from such conditions and return to sobriety.