What is “Notes from the Field”?

“Notes from the Field” is your backstage pass to the challenges, triumphs, and transformative moments we witness firsthand in our community. At WakeUp Carolina, we are committed to sharing insights, information, and stories that resonate with the hearts of our community members. Our goal is to foster understanding, ignite conversations, and inspire change.

Today, we turn our attention to a lesser-known aspect of recovery: Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS). This condition can significantly impact individuals striving to maintain sobriety, persisting long after the acute withdrawal phase has ended. Unlike the intense but brief initial withdrawal, PAWS can linger for weeks, months, or even years. In this edition, we’ll explore what PAWS entails, how it affects our recovery community, the cycles and symptoms associated with it, and ways to recognize and manage it.

Understanding Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS)

PAWS encompasses a set of prolonged withdrawal symptoms that surface after the acute withdrawal phase from drugs, alcohol, or certain medications. These symptoms can range from mood swings, anxiety, and depression to irritability, fatigue, and trouble concentrating. Sleep disturbances and cravings for the substance can also be part of PAWS, varying in intensity and duration.

The Impact of PAWS on the Recovery Community

Increased Risk of Relapse

PAWS symptoms, especially cravings and mood disturbances, can significantly heighten the risk of relapse. The persistence of these symptoms may drive individuals to seek relief from substance use again.

Sobriety Maintenance Challenges

The prolonged symptoms of PAWS can make it incredibly challenging for individuals to maintain their commitment to sobriety. The cyclic nature of PAWS often leads to frustration and a sense of hopelessness, undermining efforts to stay clean.

Impact on Mental Health

PAWS can exacerbate existing mental health issues or contribute to new ones, complicating the recovery process and necessitating additional support and treatment.

Social and Interpersonal Difficulties

Symptoms of PAWS can strain relationships with family, friends, and support networks, leading to isolation and conflict.

Recognizing PAWS Cycles and Symptoms

Understanding the patterns of PAWS is crucial for managing its impact. Here are some common symptoms to watch for:

  • Mood Swings: Irritability, anxiety, and depression are frequent during PAWS cycles.
  • Cravings: Persistent cravings for the substance may indicate ongoing withdrawal-related symptoms.
  • Sleep Disturbances: Irregular sleep patterns or difficulty sleeping can be signs of PAWS.
  • Cognitive Difficulties: Problems with concentration, memory, and decision-making are typical during PAWS.

Solutions for Recognizing and Managing PAWS

Education and Awareness

Raising awareness about PAWS within the recovery community helps individuals recognize and understand their symptoms, fostering a more informed and supportive environment.

Regular Monitoring

Keeping track of symptoms and their patterns can help identify when PAWS affects an individual, allowing for timely intervention.

Seeking Support

Encouraging individuals to seek help from healthcare professionals, addiction specialists, or support groups can provide valuable guidance and assistance in managing PAWS symptoms.

Self-Care Strategies

Self-care techniques such as mindfulness, exercise, healthy nutrition, and stress management can alleviate PAWS symptoms and promote overall well-being.

Real-Life Insights from WakeUp Carolina

Many of us at WakeUp Carolina have faced PAWS in our recovery journeys, hitting emotional walls and experiencing frustrations, high anxiety, or trouble concentrating. These feelings can seem endless, leading some to question if sobriety is worth it. One staff member shares their experience with PAWS, occurring every three months during the first year of recovery. Read a detailed account of their journey, providing a real-life perspective on navigating PAWS, “My Journey With Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome.” 

Understanding PAWS and its impact on the recovery community is crucial for providing comprehensive support to those striving to maintain sobriety. By recognizing the cycles and symptoms of PAWS and implementing effective management strategies, we can better equip individuals to navigate this challenging phase of their recovery journey. At WakeUp Carolina, we remain committed to fostering understanding, igniting conversations, and inspiring change within our community.

Call Now Button