When you hear the word “detox,” you probably envision yourself briefly undergoing a variety of symptoms ranging in severity from merely uncomfortable to life-threatening. However, you’re only half correct. A lesser-known side effect of getting clean is the lingering effects of withdrawal, which are known as post-acute withdrawal syndrome, or PAWS. These symptoms result from the brain readjusting its chemistry after long-term alcohol and drug use, which can take as long as two years for some people.
If you fail to prepare yourself for PAWS, you can put yourself at significant risk of experiencing a relapse. If you recognize the symptoms ahead of time, you will be in a much better position to manage them when they arise.
What PAWS Symptoms Can You Expect?
Common PAWS symptoms can include:
- Muddled thoughts
- Problems with your short- or long-term memory
- Mood swings
- Physical coordination problems
- Greater sensitivity to stress
If you are going through the PAWS stage of detox and recovery, it’s essential to prioritize your self-care. The symptoms of PAWS can be uncomfortable, but practicing patience and focusing on positivity can go a long way toward getting you through this challenging time. Believing in your ability to regain your health will help see you through.
How to Manage PAWS Symptoms
For some recovering addicts, the urge to use drugs or alcohol can re-emerge at the first signs of acute symptoms like those associated with PAWS. To prevent a relapse, it is vital for you to recognize PAWS symptoms so you can get them under control as quickly as possible.
If you are experiencing any symptoms of post-acute withdrawal syndrome, use these five techniques to care for yourself.
- Talk it out: Having sympathetic people around who will not criticize or belittle your experience will not only provide you with support, it will also help you become more aware of your symptoms and give you a realistic view of what you are going through. Learn to express your thoughts and emotions, even when they seem irrational or disconnected.
- Do a reality check: Your perception of your surroundings may differ from what’s truly happening. In these situations, ask friends and loved ones if your actions and behaviors are rational.
- Set reasonable goals: One of the best ways to get better is to take a proactive role in your wellness journey. Identify steps you can take to continue making progress in the right direction, and create a plan that will help you get there.
- Slow down: Meditation is one of the most useful arrows in a recovering addict’s quiver. Take a few moments to restore balance to your day by breathing and engaging in quiet contemplation.
- Keep a journal: Take notes on the day-to-day ups and downs of your symptoms, including when they began and what you tried to make them stop. Recall specific flare-ups, and identify what triggered them and how you responded. By going back over your notes, you can more easily spot patterns of what steps you could take to help prevent future episodes and end them quickly.
How to Find the Help You Need
If you struggle with drug and alcohol misuse, Inland Detox is here when you admit you can’t solve all your problems by yourself. Contact our accredited California drug and alcohol detox facility 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to experience our personalized level of care in a well-appointed facility that prioritizes your comfort.