Many alcoholics have experience with getting through the early detox phase of getting sober, only to end up relapsing within a few months. A major factor responsible for this is a phenomenon known as post-acute withdrawal syndrome, or PAWS for short.
Understanding and facing post-acute withdrawal syndrome is an important component of achieving long-term sobriety from alcohol. Here we break down everything you need to know about alcoholism-related PAWS.
What is alcohol-related post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS)?
The early detox phase from alcoholism, known as the acute withdrawal period, typically lasts about five to seven days. While this phase of detoxing is the most intense and difficult to overcome, it typically gives way to a milder but much longer group of symptoms.
These symptoms, collectively, are known as Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome, or PAWS for short. While these symptoms typically are not as severe as the acute-withdrawal period and may not require medical attention, they can be one of the most difficult aspects of early recovery.
Therefore, recognizing the symptoms of PAWS and understanding that the symptoms are perfectly normal is crucial to achieving long-term sobriety.
So what are the symptoms of alcohol-related Post-acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS)?
The following symptoms are commonly experienced during post-acute withdrawal syndrome from alcoholism-
- Mood instability
- Difficulty concentrating and/or thinking
- Reduced sex drive
How long does alcohol-related post-acute withdrawal syndrome last for?
Over the years, several studies have been performed on alcohol-related post-acute withdrawal syndrome. While these provide rough estimates for the duration of symptoms experienced, it is important to note that it does vary from individual to individual. Case studies overall found that symptoms of post-acute withdrawal syndrome lasted in individuals for approximately two years or more after the last drink.
So what can be done about alcohol-related PAWS?
The approximately two-year timetable for post-acute withdrawal syndrome can be an incredibly scary number for those in early sobriety. There are, however, several techniques to combating PAWS.
First, it is important to recognize that PAWS are completely normal for those in early recovery and that they do not last forever. This knowledge is important to prevent feelings of hopelessness and fear that the symptoms will last forever.
Second, there are a number of healthy ways to combat the various symptoms caused by PAWS. These can include joining a recovery fellowship, therapy, and healthy hobbies/activities that reduce anxiety.
Above all, abstinence and time are the greatest cures for post-acute withdrawal syndrome.
This article is intended for those considering a new way of life, free of the pain of drug and alcohol addiction. For more information on recovery and anyone seeking help with addiction and substance abuse problems, please call True Recovery at (844) 744-8783 or visit us online.