The Signs and Symptoms of P.A.W.S.

Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome is the greatest threat to addicts’ long-term recoveries. Beginning immediately after detox, PAWS can destroy rehab patients’ abilities to productively engage their therapies and make the most of their treatment programs. The symptoms of this condition can also return long after addicts leave their clinics, causing relapse in people who have been sober for years. To achieve successful rehabilitation and long-term sobriety, addicts must learn to recognize the signs of post acute withdrawal. The following are some of the most threatening PAWS symptoms and effects.

Physical Symptoms

Most rehab patients experience fewer physical symptoms during PAWS than during the withdrawal of detox. Still, these symptoms can be severe. The most common include:

  • Continued drug cravings
  • New physical cravings for food, alcohol, or medications
  • Decreased pain tolerance
  • Impaired motor skills
  • Slurred speech
  • Insomnia

The continued cravings can be particularly frustrating for addicts who have already endured a great deal of pain during detoxification. It is common for people to despair and wonder whether they will ever be able to make lasting recoveries.

Mental and Emotional Symptoms

Detox generally does a good job of addressing addicts’ physical drug dependencies, but the subsequent post acute withdrawal involves a wide array of mental and emotional difficulties. Among them are:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Inability to focus
  • Constant overreaction or under-reaction to emotional stimuli
  • Increased stress
  • Panic attacks
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Inability to communicate or relate to other people
  • Aggression or rage

These symptoms are particularly severe – and especially threatening – in people who suffer from co-occurring mental illnesses. Thankfully, addiction counselors are often able to identify these conditions in patients soon after detox. They can then give these patients anti-depressants, anti-anxiety medications, or other treatments designed to relieve stress. Overall, treating co-occurring conditions can make or break the recovery process for mentally ill patients.

Social Difficulties

The physical symptoms of PAWS can make social life especially difficult for recovering addicts. People who emerge from rehab displaying motor impairment, speaking troubles, and signs of insomnia often appear intoxicated. In fact, many addiction specialists refer to these patients as “dry drunks.”

Society tends to stigmatize addicts, and dry drunkenness only contributes to the false belief that addicts are lazy people who are simply unwilling to change themselves. This perception is extremely frustrating for addicts who are suffering from painful PAWS symptoms and struggling to cope with continued cravings.

Short-Term and Long-Term Effects

PAWS symptoms first threaten addicts’ recoveries while they are still attending their rehab programs. Even positive and enthusiastic patients find it next to impossible to focus on their counseling sessions and other treatments when they suffer continued cravings, physical pain, and emotional distress.

Many patients also report recurring symptoms months or even years after they complete treatment. These symptoms can catch addicts off-guard, causing unexpected cravings and drug use. Researchers now believe that this condition is the primary cause of relapse among newly sober and long-recovered addicts alike.

Fortunately, rehab specialists have begun to make PAWS mitigation a primary focus in their treatment programs. By educating their patients, they can help addicts understand that their continued cravings and painful symptoms are normal and expected. They can then take steps to reduce these symptoms and guide addicts toward lasting sobriety.

Whether you are suffering from Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome or have yet to seek addiction treatment, there is hope. Call the number at the top of your screen now for a free, confidential consultation. We’re here to help 24 hours per day, and we can assist you no matter where you are. It’s not too late to change the direction your life is heading, and it all begins with a simple phone call.

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