The initial withdrawal syndrome caused by benzodiazepines (such as Xanax, Valium, Klonopin, Ativan, etc) is typically an incredibly difficult and even life-threatening ordeal one must overcome to achieve long-term sobriety.
While this acute withdrawal phase subsides within a few weeks, it often gives way to a syndrome known as post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS). Here we discuss PAWS caused by benzodiazepine abuse.
What is Benzodiazepine post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS)?
These symptoms, collectively, are known as Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome, or PAWS for short. While the severity is not as stark as acute benzodiazepine withdrawal and may not require medical attention, PAWS can be one of the most difficult aspects of early recovery.
Therefore, recognizing the symptoms of benzodiazepine PAWS and understanding that the symptoms are perfectly normal is crucial to achieving long-term sobriety.
So, what are the symptoms of Benzodiazepine Post-acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS)?
The following symptoms occur from benzodiazepine post-acute withdrawal syndrome-
- Rebound anxiety (the return of greater anxiety symptoms after withdrawal from a certain substance that you have experienced beforehand)
- Disturbances in sleep patterns
- Dysphoria (feeling sad or down)
- Continuation of other acute-withdrawal syndromes
Some physiological symptoms produced by benzodiazepine PAWS can even mimic the following disorders-
- Agitated depression
- Generalized anxiety
- Panic disorders
- Obsessive-compulsive disorders
How long does Benzodiazepine post-acute withdrawal syndrome last for?
Unfortunately, there is no clear-cut timetable for how long the post-acute withdrawal syndrome caused by benzodiazepines lasts for. The duration of PAWS varies greatly amongst users depending on a number of different factors.
First, each benzodiazepine has a different half-life (length of time it lasts in the user’s system), which can affect how long PAWS lasts for. Next, the longer an individual abuses benzodiazepines, the longer it will take for the brain to heal.
While the duration of benzodiazepine PAWS varies for each person, it typically lasts for a number of months before dissipating completely.
So what can be done about Benzodiazepine PAWS?
Benzodiazepine-induced post-acute withdrawal syndrome is a major roadblock in achieving long-term sobriety. There are, however, several techniques to combating PAWS. First, it is important to recognize that benzodiazepine 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, it is crucial to find healthy ways to combat the rebound anxiety that typically accompanies the benzodiazepine 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 benzodiazepine 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.