Too few individuals who are recovering from drug and alcohol addiction are thoroughly educated on the critical subject of PAWS: post acute withdrawal syndrome. Outside of clinical facilities and treatment centers, many people are unaware of the peculiar symptoms of PAWS which can periodically show up in the first two years of recovery from addiction. Without awareness, the symptoms of PAWS, overwhelming and frustrating, can lead to relapse. Mistaking the symptoms for signs of inevitable failure in recovery, men feel they must turn back down the path of drugs and alcohol.
What Is PAWS?
Dan Mager explains to Psychology Today that PAWS “…is a constellation of often brutally uncomfortable symptoms that persist even after all physical traces of alcohol and other drugs have left the body and brain.” Post-acute withdrawal, Mager writes, “is a consequence of the significant changes to brain anatomy and chemistry take place during active addicted. The brain’s reward system is turned on its head and its natural ability to cope with stress is undermined.” As a result, the brain periodically ‘tricks’ itself back into thinking it is detoxing from drugs and alcohol again. Typical signs of early abstinence like irritability, insomnia, depression, anxiety, pessimism, cravings, anger, and physical discomfort, are common.
Without knowledge, these symptoms can feel like a bad nightmare. Detox should be over and things are, as everyone supporting a man in recovery is telling him, getting better. Things are getting better every moment more a man stays sober in recovery. However, PAWS can come up and make things seem as though they are heading backwards toward a dark, frightening place. Depending on the severity of a man’s addiction, his body type, and his particular psychopathology, how he encounters PAWS and how often he encounters PAWS will vary.
Why Understanding PAWS Matters
If you did not know that it was normal and common to re-experience the symptoms of withdrawal you might think you are failing at recovery. You might think that there is no way you will escape the demons of addiction. You might think that you can never find freedom from the tight grips that addiction can hold. As a result, you might feel defeated. You might lose hope. You might give into the demands of the PAWS symptoms, stop taking care of yourself, and stop engaging in the scientifically proven methods to reduce symptoms of stress, reboot dopamine levels, and decrease cravings. You might, as many do, start believing once more that drugs and alcohol are the solution. You might relapse. You might not make it back to recovery.
The risks and threats of addiction are real. Being thoroughly informed and trained on how to live a sustainable lifestyle of recovery requires sustainable changes.
Tree House Recovery is showing men the way to freedom from addiction. By creating sustainable changes, men create a sustainable recovery. Inspired by the outdoors, guided by clinical excellence, and fueled by a determination for growth, our program is changing lives. Call us today for information: (855) 202-2138