A few months into our recovery journey, we start feeling anxious; our palms are sweating, and our heart is racing. We are sitting in a meeting, feeling just fine, when someone starts sharing their experience. Suddenly a wave of nausea begins, and our head begins to throb. We don’t understand what is going on, and as a result, we become more anxious.
Experiencing these symptoms is a sign that we are continuing to heal. While these symptoms can cause frustration, they are part of the process. While it is not spoken of as often as detox, post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) impacts many of us in early recovery.
What Is Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome?
PAWS is a group of symptoms that occur after the initial detox period. Not everyone in recovery experiences symptoms of PAWS. However, those who do, are often not prepared for the sudden onset of new symptoms.
Symptoms vary for every person. However, they are often described as lasting a few moments and subsiding. Commonly people in recovery experience this as a “come and go” or “rollercoaster” of symptoms. They occasionally happen throughout the first few months of sobriety and sometimes throughout the first year.
We want to be attentive to the changes our bodies are going through and continue to be open with those in our support system during this time. These people will help support us through this phase. As with everything else in our recovery, we want to take this one day at a time. Destiny Recovery Center is prepared to support withdrawal symptoms beginning with detox through the PAWS phase.
Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome Symptoms
Being familiar with what symptoms can be associated with PAWS can help decrease the anxiety that this may cause. Understanding that PAWS is normal and that our body continues to heal can help us continue our recovery process with a more positive outlook. Sometimes experiencing symptoms of PAWS without understanding the connection to our healing process can lead some of us to relapse.
Symptoms of PAWS most closely resemble those of mood and anxiety disorders. According to UCLA Health’s article “Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome,” symptoms of PAWS can include:
- Mood swings
- Difficulty with cognitive tasks
- Depressed mood
- Obsessive-compulsive behaviors
- Low energy
- Panic/anxiety symptoms
- Increased sensitivity to stress
- Sleep disturbances
Symptoms of PAWS can increase in severity when we are triggered by stress. However, they can occur when no clear triggers are present. PAWS symptoms also fluctuate in severity. They may disappear for some time only to reappear again.
Remedies for Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome
Symptoms cannot be entirely eliminated for those who experience PAWS. However, there are many things we can do to reduce their frequency and level of intensity.
Healthy Routines and Habits
One of the most significant actions we can take against PAWS is establishing healthy routines and habits. Our addiction is not only heavily impacted by our mental health, but our physical health has also taken a toll. It is crucial to begin to make that a priority as well.
Destiny Recovery Center has individualized physical fitness programs to meet the needs of each client where they are in their journey. Learning new ways to care for our body with movements, such as yoga, walking, hiking, and even surfing, can help us to have more opportunities and to try new things.
Healthy meal options will impact not only the healing of our bodies but our minds as well. Making our health a top priority in our recovery by ensuring we stay physically active and nourishing our bodies with healthy foods will increase our ability to focus and support the healing process. We will soon be able to sleep regularly, which will reduce stress levels and help prevent triggers and cravings.
New Coping Mechanisms
Therapy is an excellent tool for success in recovery and alleviating symptoms of PAWS. Through therapy, you can discover new coping mechanisms that can help you in your recovery. Learning new ways to cope with intrusive thoughts, such as journaling techniques, nature walks, and attending support groups, allows us to keep our minds clear and focused.
Working With Others
Taking advantage of working with others is a strategy used in relapse prevention. However, it also has an impact on our mental health. This boosts our self-esteem, can lessen our anxiety, and gives us a chance to focus on others. Celebrating victories within our recovery helps us to concentrate on positive movement forward and reduce the frequency and level of symptoms experienced.
Support for Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome
Recovery is a long road where we will gain experience, strength, and hope in each part of our journey. PAWS is one way we can physically recognize our body is healing. Though it can be bothersome at times, we can learn to embrace this phase of our recovery and know that it is just another part of our journey.
We do not walk this road alone. The more we stay connected with those who support us, the easier the path is. Destiny Recovery Center is ready to help you start your journey.
Destiny Recovery Center offers various options to assist with the effects of post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS), including knowledgeable staff who will understand and be prepared to provide support and comfort when you are experiencing symptoms. We also provide a physical fitness program and nutritionist to help you establish a foundation for a healthier lifestyle, which supports long-term success in recovery. Various therapy options, a peaceful natural setting within the community, and complete individualized care are included in our inpatient drug and alcohol treatment program. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, reach out to Destiny Recovery Center to speak to one of our experienced staff today. Call (909) 413-4304.