Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome- Know How to Manage the Symptoms


It takes a strong mind to say no to drugs. Withdrawing from drugs often come with uncomfortable symptoms such as nausea, muscle aches, and increased heart rate. Most of these symptoms disappear within a few days or weeks if they are managed correctly. Once your body acclimates to the lack of substances, you start a new journey to recovery that may take months or even years. But why does it take long to heal the wounds of drug abuse?

The journey to complete recovery from drug abuse is long and not for the faint-hearted. While the body may adjust to the lack of drugs within a few days, the brain can take months or years to heal completely. It occurs because your brain is not used to operating alone. There was always a substance that it relied on, but now it’s gone. As a result, the affected individual will experience an intense craving, brain fog, sleep disturbances, and several other psychological symptoms. A combination of these symptoms is known as post-acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS).

What Is the Post-Acute Withdrawal Symptom?

PAWS refer to a combination of symptoms that individuals who are recovering from drug abuse experience after a prolonged withdrawal period. Most of the symptoms are psychological and mood related. They can continue affecting the recovering individual for months or years after completing the rehabilitation program. While post-acute withdrawal symptoms may not involve muscle aches, nausea, increased heart rate, and headaches, they can be equally as severe as acute withdrawal symptoms.

Causes PAWS

Post-acute withdrawal symptoms occur mainly due to chemical imbalances in the brain. Remember that when an individual is into drugs abuse, the brain depends on these substances to perform certain tasks effectively. Without the drug, the brain will need some time to adjust and learn to function without relying on these substances.

What Are the Signs And Symptoms of PAWS?

A site like has listed numerous symptoms associated with post-acute withdrawal syndrome. The span and severity of these symptoms will depend on the individual’s overall health, length of abuse, and the drug they were abusing. The most common symptoms associated with PAWS include:

Inability to feel pleasure: individuals who are entrapped in the web of drug abuse depend on them to produce the feel-good chemical in the brain known as dopamine. It can, therefore, take a lot of time for the brain of the recovering person to produce enough dopamine without being triggered by drugs. Sleep disturbances and Insomnia: drug abuse is known to disrupt an individual’s regular sleep cycle. An individual who just walked out of a rehab center will most likely experience disturbing dreams, which can make sleeping nearly impossible.

Mood Swings: with time, the brain of a drug addict becomes comfortable with the constant supply of mood-altering substances. It can, therefore, take time for the brain to learn to rebalance itself. Before then, periods of mania and depression can occur for no apparent reason. Cognitive impairment: the imbalance in the brain chemicals can cause memory and mobility problems. Severe cases of drug abuse can lead to total brain damage.

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