Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome also known as PAWS or P.A.W.S is the prolonged and persistent withdrawal symptoms that occurs after the initial “acute” withdrawal symptoms that’s typical from using heroin, opiates or other drugs such as benzodiazepines and even alcohol stops. PAWS can continue for months or even years after heroin use stops. So why does this occur and what can be done to stop it?
Almost everyone who has used heroin or opiates has experienced some kind of Post-acute withdrawal.
The length of time that Post-acute withdrawal syndrome occurs varies but typically lasts for 2 years from a recovering addict’s clean anniversary date. It can be intense at times, but with patience and perseverance, symptoms can be overcome and recovery can conquer addiction.
Post-acute withdrawal can be compared to a roller coaster. Post-acute withdrawal is an “on again, off again” experience full of hills and valleys, ups and downs. The above referenced symptoms can come and go and can last anywhere from a couple of minutes to a couple of days. There are no obvious triggers for each episode and not all of the symptoms listed above are felt. And not all symptoms are always experienced at once. The symptoms are sometimes intense and at other times, they are virtually non-existent. But the feelings associated with PAWS can and often do return on and off for up to 2 years.
Some of these symptoms include:
- Low levels of enthusiasm
- Insomnia (trouble sleeping)
- Concentration difficulties
- Low levels of energy
- Mood swings
Thankfully, each episode pertaining to a particular set of symptoms is temporary and will go away as quickly as it comes. But it can be a bit challenging to deal with in particular when coupled with urges and cravings associated with heroin and/or opiate use.
How to Cope with Post-acute Withdrawal Symptoms (PAWS)
Patience and Perseverance: The most crucial characteristics in not only surviving but conquering PAWS is patience and perseverance. Symptoms can be intense at times, but they will always go away. Pushing through and indulging in healthy activities that will help take your mind off of them when episodes occur can help reduce the desire to use heroin.
Take time to smell the roses: Taking time out from your day to experience and enjoy the moment and what you are currently doing is key to any healthy recovery. It’s also key to enjoying and getting the most out of life. So be sure to relax, take your time and go with the flow. This will make PAWS easier to deal with.
Take Care of Yourself: Getting plenty of rest, exercising and healthy eating can help make recovery easier in general let alone dealing with post-acute withdrawal syndrome. Indulging in drug use will only wake addiction up and allow it to take control. Remember, recovery is the antithesis of addiction.
Resisting Relapse: Post-acute withdrawal symptom can be a trigger and thus, cause the brain to consider drug use. But those serious about recovery know the dangers of relapse. Relapse is the awakening of the addiction that sleeps and resides within everyone who suffers from the disease of addiction. Relapse is a state of mind first and an action second. But it always results in drug use. Relapse is a symptom of addiction and is not part of recovery. Being prepared for P.A.W.S may just make resisting relapse a little easier.
Relax and Stay Positive: Don’t tense up when symptoms of PAWS arise. Relax your body and try to concentrate on other things. Think about something you are excited about or something that occurred during the day. Most importantly, stay positive. Don’t dwell on negative thoughts which addiction thrives on. Positive thinking is the making of a successful recovery.
Heroin Recovery isn’t easy but it is possible. Addiction will do whatever it can to stay alive and active. But don’t think of post-acute withdrawal syndrome as a sign and characteristic of addiction. Instead, think of it as your brain and body trying to heal and adjust to recovery and wellness.
Written and Published By,
William – Publisher and Founder of Kill the Heroin Epidemic Nationwide™