A man is going through PAWS from opioids

Opioids (such as heroin, morphine, Oxcontin, Vicodin) cause one of the most difficult and painful withdrawal symptoms of and of the popular substances of abuse.

While this early withdrawal period passes relatively quickly, it typically gives way to another series of withdrawal symptoms known as post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS).

Here we break down PAWS withdrawal from opioids.

What is Opioid post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS)?

While the most extreme opioid withdrawal symptoms tend to subside within two weeks, a A woman on opioids trys to get cleanvariety of typically less severe general withdrawal symptoms can persist for months at a time.

These symptoms, collectively, are known as Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome, or PAWS for short.

While the severity is not as stark as acute opioid withdrawal and may not require medical attention, PAWS can be one of the most difficult aspects of early recovery.

Therefore, recognizing the symptoms of opioid PAWS and understanding that the symptoms are perfectly normal is crucial to achieving long-term sobriety.

So what are the symptoms of Opioid post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS)?

The following are symptoms of Opioid PAWS:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Fatigue
  • Dysphoria (feeling sad or down)
  • Irritability
  • Deficits in executive control functions
  • Continuation of other acute-withdrawal syndromes

How long does Opioid post-acute withdrawal syndrome last for?

The duration of post-acute withdrawal syndrome caused by opioids is highly variable among users. This is due to a variety of reasons. The half-life of each different opioid (how long it lasts in the user’s system), for example, makes a difference.

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The amount of time the user was addicted to opioids will also have a large impact on how long the post-acute withdrawal syndrome symptoms will last in the user.

Overall, post-acute withdrawal syndrome typically lasts months, and even up to a year in some cases.

So what can be done about Opioid PAWS?

There is no sugar coating it – opioid caused post-acute withdrawal syndrome provides yet another difficult hurdle in achieving long-term sobriety. While not as severe as the initial withdrawal, the longevity of the opioid paws symptoms can sometimes lead to feelings of hopelessness in early recovery.

To combat this, it is vitally important to realize that it is completely normal. Furthermore, there is no better time to remember the classic recovery slogan related to these feelings – this too shall pass.

Final Note

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.


  1. https://store.samhsa.gov/shin/content/SMA10-4554/SMA10-4554.pdf