Post Acute Withdrawal Symptoms: How You Can Manage Them

There are two stages to the withdrawal process of drugs or alcohol. The first is known as the acute stage, which is the stage that many people associate with the word withdrawal. This stage can last for a few days, weeks, or up to a month, and is when the majority of physical symptoms of withdrawal are experienced. The length and symptoms experienced during this stage will differ depending on the person, the length of use, and the substance being used, but some common symptoms of acute withdrawal are nausea, insomnia, anxiety, and loss appetite.

Once the acute stage is done, the individual then enters into the post acute withdrawal stage. Majority of people coming off of drugs or alcohol experience this to at least a certain extent. This stage also has the same symptoms across the board, unlike the acute phase that differs depending on the substance.

What Are Post Acute Withdrawal Symptoms?

Post acute withdrawal symptoms, or PAWS for short, is a stage in the withdrawal process from substances where physical symptoms are replaced with emotional and psychological symptoms. It is generally caused by a combination of biological, psychological, and social factors. This means that as the brain is attempting to repair the damage that was caused by drug or alcohol addiction, it also has to contend with the psychosocial stress that is caused by the person’s attempts to get sober. As the brain is attempting to do this and reach equilibrium again without substances, it can create a number of unwanted symptoms.

What You May Experience

Not everyone will experience all of the symptoms but most people who are getting sober will experience some of them to a degree. The most common are:

  • Sleep disturbances
  • Mood Swings
  • A problem remembering things
  • Overacting to situations or numbness
  • A sensitivity to stress
  • Lethargy
  • Anxiety
  • Physical Coordination Issues

sick young woman laying on a couch

How Long Can It Last?

Any of these can last up to two years, but they usually reach their highest level of intensity three to six months after complete abstinence begins. This can be frightening to hear, but it is important to understand it. Being addicted to a substance can cause a great deal of damage to the mind and body and so the time needed in order to recover completely can be substantial. That being said, in a majority of cases the body can and will recover and the process is not as difficult as it seems. Managing the symptoms associated with it is important because if they are not, a person could be drawn back to a drink or drug.

How You Can Get Through It

One thing to understand in order to successfully navigate the stage of post acute withdrawal symptoms is that what you experience can come and go, sometimes seemingly without any reason. You could be feeling fine for a couple of weeks and then all of a sudden out of nowhere you begin to experience any of the symptoms listed above. Knowing that this is a possibility is a great way to arm yourself against danger because many times when the symptoms occur, a person can begin to berate themselves for feeling that way. They may wonder if they are doing something wrong and that is why they are feeling that way and if it is persistent enough a person could eventually drink or drug again. Understanding that it is just a normal part of the recovery process is your best defense and can help you keep a clear head when symptoms arise.

Another thing you can do in order to successfully get through this is to have the proper supports in place. Whether this means living in a sober living home for a while, or just having a number of close people in your life, having support can make a world of difference. The reason being is that when you begin to experience any of these symptoms you have people who you can turn to so that you do not have to go through it alone. This, many times, can be the difference between success and failure.

It is also important to be easy on yourself during your first couple of years. Many times when a person gets sober they want to make up for what they perceive is lost time. This is sometimes a recipe for disaster because it not only puts a lot of unnecessary stress on the person, but it also is a great way to judge yourself harshly. It is important to remember that recovery takes time and so be as easy as you possibly can be on yourself. Give yourself the ability to take a break when you need and be sure to take care of yourself. Make sure you’re eating when you should, resting when you should, and taking time out of your schedule to relax and have fun.

Remember that time takes time and you won’t overcome all of these things in a day. Give yourself the space you need in order to heal and your experiences will not be as bad.

Are You Struggling With Addiction?

The first step to achieving sobriety and making it through the two stages of withdrawal is seeking out a good detox. Here at Coastal Detox our specialty is helping you through these beginning stages and equipping you with the tools necessary for you to continue your sobriety. If you think you need help overcoming your addiction or alcoholism then call Coastal Detox today at 1-877-978-3125. We are standing by to offer you the help you need.

Real Client Testimonials

  • Before coming to coastal I was hopeless, helpless, and my family wanted nothing to do with me. It wasn’t the first detox I’d ever been to, but it was the only one who showed me so much love and compassion. They gave me hope. It’s hard to put into words the amount of gratitude I have for this facility. The employees were my family when I had none. The staff went out of their way to make sure not only were my physical needs taken care of, but my emotional needs as well. From the first phone call prior to admission, to helping me set up continuing care, they never missed a beat. Even going as far as to help me with my legal issues via Zoom court. This isn’t just a detox, they are the family I never had. All of the techs, especially Karen, are phenomenal. They will take the time to listen to you, laugh, and cry(if needed) with you. If you are reading this and you or your loved one is suffering like I was, go to Coastal Detox. The level of care is more than I could ever put into a review. It wasn’t the first detox I’d been to, but it has been my last; I owe them everything I have today, including my life.

    Travis B. Avatar
    Travis B.
    12/07/2020
  • Had a really good experience at Coastal. The staff really went above and beyond in helping me get in and gave me the respect l, space and care I needed after I first got there. As I started to fell better they encouraged me to take part in groups which helped get me out of my head and bring positivity and health to my thinking. They had a great massage therapist, who came daily and it was evident the nursing staff genuinely cared. Got to know some of the staff as well and I’m grateful for the cooks Joe and Chris. Those guys literally made us sirloins and pork chops for dinner. Also I gotta thank Chris and Chris for helping me get in and setting me up with a transition plan. Real grateful for that help, I’m not sure if it’s management intention to hire guys named Chris but they got a good thing going there. Overall, I’m clean and sober today and walking it out. Coastal gave me a base that set me up for the success that I’m walking in today

    Brandon B. Avatar
    Brandon B.
    1/16/2020
  • My family is very thankful for Coastal Detox. They have went above and beyond for my son a few times. Unfortunately he has needed their help more than once and they have ever turned their back on him, even when he was at his worst. Jeannie and Chris have been amazing and kept me informed through the entire process. They truly care about the addict and want to help them especially when it would be easy to give up on them. I had many detox facilities be rude and uncaring to me when I was searching for help for my son, but Coastal never did that to us. I don't know the names of all the team members that have helped my son but I know their are many and y'all are angels!! One day we will be able to pay it forward and help someone as you have helped us. Thank you for all you do!!

    Brenda A. Avatar
    Brenda A.
    1/01/2020
  • Can not say enough nice things about Coastal Detox & staff. Family member was there, told me five stars for the facility & all whom she interacted with. Said the facilities, ambience..., cleanliness, grounds, food, (think their chef is five stars), were all top shelf. All I interacted with personally & on the phone were patient, professional, responsive & caring. Kudos to so many: Jeannie Jones, Clinical Director whom I spent the most face to face time with: great oversight, patience & follow thru. Raquel Barker, Therapist was so understanding & on spot with her assessments/care. Kris Garrigus Admissions Director, another Coastal professional whom I cannot say enough nice things about, always so patient & responsive to my probably too frequent inquires. Not to be forgotten is Judy Tucker, Director of Operations she too so patiently "put up with me"
    I highly recommend Coastal Detox

    Susan C. Avatar
    Susan C.
    11/13/2019
  • Can not say enough nice things about Coastal Detox & staff. Family member was there, told me five stars for the facility & all whom she interacted with. Said the facilities, ambience..., cleanliness, grounds, food, (think their chef is five stars), were all top shelf. All I interacted with personally & on the phone were patient, professional, responsive & caring. Kudos to so many: Jeannie Jones, Clinical Director whom I spent the most face to face time with: great oversight, patience & follow thru. Raquel Barker, Therapist was so understanding & on spot with her assessments/care. Kris Garrigus Admissions Director, another Coastal professional whom I cannot say enough nice things about, always so patient & responsive to my probably too frequent inquires. Not to be forgotten is Judy Tucker, Director of Operations she too so patiently "put up with me"
    I highly recommend Coastal Detox

    Susan C. Avatar
    Susan C.
    11/06/2019

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