Post-Acute Withdrawal (PAWS)

There are two stages of withdrawal. The first stage is the acute stage, which usually lasts at most a few weeks. During this stage, you may experience physical withdrawal symptoms. But every drug is different, and every person is different.

 

The second stage of withdrawal is called the Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS). During this stage you'll have fewer physical symptoms, but more emotional and psychological withdrawal symptoms.

 

Post-acute withdrawal occurs because your brain chemistry is gradually returning to normal. As your brain improves the levels of your brain chemicals fluctuate as they approach the new equilibrium causing post-acute withdrawal symptoms.

 

Most people experience some post-acute withdrawal symptoms. Whereas in the acute stage of withdrawal every person is different, in post-acute withdrawal most people have the same symptoms.

 

The Symptoms of Post-Acute Withdrawal

 

The most common post-acute withdrawal symptoms are:

  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Tiredness
  • Variable energy
  • Low enthusiasm
  • Variable concentration
  • Disturbed sleep

Post-acute withdrawal feels like a rollercoaster of symptoms. In the beginning, your symptoms will change minute to minute and hour to hour. Later as you recover further they will disappear for a few weeks or months only to return again. As you continue to recover the good stretches will get longer and longer. But the bad periods of post-acute withdrawal can be just as intense and last just as long.

 

Each post-acute withdrawal episode usually last for a few days. Once you've been in recovery for a while, you will find that each post-acute withdrawal episode usually lasts for a few days. There is no obvious trigger for most episodes. You will wake up one day feeling irritable and have low energy. If you hang on for just a few days, it will lift just as quickly as it started. After a while you'll develop confidence that you can get through post-acute withdrawal, because you'll know that each episode is time limited.

 

Post-acute withdrawal usually lasts for 2 years. This is one of the most important things you need to remember. If you're up for the challenge you can get though this. But if you think that post-acute withdrawal will only last for a few months, then you'll get caught off guard, and when you're disappointed you're more likely to relapse.

 

How to Survive Post-Acute Withdrawal

 

Be patient. You can't hurry recovery. But you can get through it one day at a time. If you resent post-acute withdrawal, or try to bulldoze your way through it, you will become exhausted. And when you're exhausted you will think of using to escape.

 

Post-acute withdrawal symptoms are a sign that your brain is recovering. Therefore don't resent them. But remember, even after one year, you are still only half way there.

 

Go with the flow. Withdrawal symptoms are uncomfortable. But the more you resent them the worse they'll seem. You'll have lots of good days over the next two years. Enjoy them. You'll also have lots of bad days. On those days, don't try to do too much. Take care of yourself, focus on your recovery, and you'll get through this.

 

Practice self-care. Give yourself lots of little breaks over the next two years. Tell yourself "what I am doing is enough." Be good to yourself. That is what most addicts can't do, and that's what you must learn in recovery. Recovery is the opposite of addiction.

Sometimes you'll have little energy or enthusiasm for anything. Understand this and don't over book your life. Give yourself permission to focus on your recovery.

 

Post-acute withdrawal can be a trigger for relapse. You'll go for weeks without any withdrawal symptoms, and then one day you'll wake up and your withdrawal will hit you like a ton of bricks. You'll have slept badly. You'll be in a bad mood. Your energy will be low. And if you're not prepared for it, if you think that post-acute withdrawal only lasts for a few months, or if you think that you'll be different and it won't be as bad for you, then you'll get caught off guard. But if you know what to expect you can do this.

 

Being able to relax will help you through post-acute withdrawal. When you're tense you tend to dwell on your symptoms and make them worse. When you're relaxed it's easier to not get caught up in them. You aren't as triggered by your symptoms which means you're less likely to relapse.

 

Remember, every relapse, no matter how small undoes the gains your brain has made during recovery. Without abstinence everything will fall apart. With abstinence everything is possible.

Attitude of Gratitude

What if you woke up today with only what you thanked God for yesterday?

What would you have today?

Healthy Coping Skills for Addicts in Recovery

Often times, people develop an addiction because they lack the healthy coping skills needed to handle feelings, emotions, situations or thoughts.  When they are unable to constructively deal with changes in life, they turn to drugs and/or alcohol, which can be considered a negative coping skill.  They use substances to hide their emotions or the existence of a problem.  Doing so causes much more damage than the problem itself.

 

Before and throughout their addiction, addicts develop negative coping skills that lead to negative thought processes and destructive behaviors.  Treatment teaches clients healthy coping skills, which can change the lifestyle of the recovering addict as they grow in their recovery and work toward their ultimate goal of sobriety.  As they realize the benefits of using these healthy coping mechanisms, recovering addicts gain confidence, increasing the likelihood that they’ll use these coping skills outside of treatment.

 

The Solution Recovery Center is committed to supporting clients as they discover the underlying issues that have contributed to their addiction.  Clients are introduced to healthy coping skills to constructively handle these issues.  Positive coping skills learned throughout addiction and alcoholism treatment can include:

  • attending group sessions that include a support network
  • working closely with a sponsor who will promote healthy coping skills and instill accountability
  • utilizing meditation techniques
  • participating in physical activities to reduce tension in the body
  • writing feelings and emotions in a journal
  • attend both group and one-on-one therapy sessions
  • connecting with other recovering addicts to offer support and gain confidence from shared experiences
  • gain a strong network of support through other clients
  • utilizing relaxation skills

 

Clients who realize the effects of utilizing healthy coping skills begin to internalize them as they work toward their ultimate goal of recovery.  To do so, clients should become familiar to their previous responses to stress and obstacles and understand why these reactions were productive.  Healthy coping skills can be physical, emotional or spiritual and are known to produce positive feelings.  Clients who value healthy coping skills are likely to share them with others, encouraging positive behavior to other clients and loved ones.

Fri

07

Jun

2013

Question of the day:

What "coping skills" have you acquired since being in recovery?

0 Comments

Sat

25

May

2013

"Teens, the Brain and 12-Step Recovery."

Below is the strength-based version of the 12-Steps that was included in a column, "Creativity Matters", for Counselor magazine.

 

1. I am very powerful over my drug or behavior of addiction as long as I don’t put the substance in my body or behavior into action. And my life won’t become unmanageable if I attend to my needs and have regular interaction with some source(s) of sober support.

 

2. Came to believe that a Power within me would restore me to health and sanity through self-discipline and daily structure.

 

3. Made a decision to turn my will resolutely to a focus on sobriety, productivity and the consequent sanity of my improved sense of self.
The basis of the 12-steps is on an overt and blanket admission of powerlessness over alcohol and other drugs. Operating under the axiom that, “I get drunk and we get sober,” AA encourages members of its fellowship to find God, clean house and help others. Here’s my take on introspection:

 

4. Made a searching and fearless inventory of my positive attributes and committed to further enhancing these strengths.

 

5. Admitted to myself that my past is not my present or future and that I have much to accomplish in honoring my gifts and through service of others.

 

6. Were entirely ready to accept the help of others in enhancing my positive attributes and strength of character.
Ultimately AA was given life by the initial June 10, 1935 meeting in Akron, Ohio between the six-month sober Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith, who was in his cups and very skeptical of the man before him and Wilson’s views on the recovery that had proven so elusive for Dr. Bob. Wilson instinctively knew that he needed others to stay sober:

 

7. Humbly asked for the help of others to join me in this sweet journey of sobriety, dedicating myself to self-improvement and growth in the process.

 

8. Made a decision to abstain from harmful thinking and behaviors, and surround myself with “nutritious” people who will feed a positive sense of me as a valued individual and friend.

 

9. Made amends and forgave myself for the actions of my past, which I acknowledge harmed others and me. Not willing to be stuck, I am committed to moving forward in a spirited not a shameful manner.
The prayer and meditation emphasized by the 12-Steps can easily be seen via daily structure and self-discipline viewed through a spiritual prism of intention:

 

10. Continued to observe my goodness through mindfulness and when veering from my path of purpose, gently guide myself back on track.

 

11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve my conscious contact with the still quiet voice within, praying for guidance and direction.

 

12. Having had a revitalization of my spirit and purpose, I’ll share my message of hope with others needing encouragement.


Copyright Feb. 2010 Thomas M. Greaney

4 Comments

Wed

15

May

2013

Caged

CAGED by April P.
 
I really hated working in early recovery. I quit working at a fast food place because I did not want to deal with the public. The local animal shelter was hiring. I thought that would be perfect for me! Animals don’t talk and won’t get on my nerves! First day on the job I tried to take a dog for a walk but it bit me before I could get it on the leash. So the boss stuck me up in the “cat room” instead.

It was stacked full of cages, one on top of another and another. The pungent smell knocked me back a few steps. Immediately I thought, “and how much are they paying me?” My fellow employees were very nice so I decided that I would at LEAST finish the shift. I cleaned cat cages for 4 straight hours. Yes, it was gross.
For some reason, I kept that job for a while. This was a No-Kill Shelter so some of the cats had been there for a year or more. THIS is when the job got interesting!

I noticed that the cats that were there for a long time refused to come out of their cages, while kittens would jump at the chance at escape. I could coax them out but they would go right back inside. They were “caged” in their minds. Without the cage, they were lost. It was all they knew.
 
I found “powerlessness” outside of a book, outside of a meeting! There it was smacking me in the face every day as I cleaned!  In the beginning, I was like the kitten. I could use and put the drug down and go on my merry way. I was still free. The more I used, the more comfy the cage became. Boxed in, able to see the door but can’t go through it. Just like the cats. Fully aware the cage is open, they decide to stay. Probably makes no sense to the kitten that is running amuck and jumping around. Just like our behavior in addiction makes no sense to the “normal people.”

Working there reminded me that I was unfeeling toward animals in my addiction. I had no use for them. In recovery I see that they are more than I expected them to be! A couple years ago my husband and I adopted a shelter mutt. He is a great comfort to me when I am lonely or sad. I believe animals have a place in God’s world. They are not meant to be caged and neither are we.
Step One brought me out of the cage of powerlessness. I am grateful that I had the awesome opportunity to see it - LIVE and in action! To this day I still look for examples of it in everyday life.
5 Comments

Sun

12

May

2013

A Tribute to Mother's in Recovery

To those who gave birth this year to their first child, we celebrate with you.


To those who lost a child this year, we mourn with you.


To those who are in the trenches with little ones every day and wear the badge of food stains, we appreciate you.


To those who experienced loss through miscarriage, failed adoptions, or running away, we mourn with you.


To those who walk the hard path of infertility, fraught with pokes, prods, tears, and disappointment, we walk with you. Forgive us when we say foolish things. We don't mean to make this harder than it is.


To those who are foster moms, mentor moms, and spiritual moms, we need you.


To those who have warm and close relationships with your children, we celebrate with you.
To those who have disappointment, heart ache, and distance with your children, we sit with you.


To those who lost their mothers this year, we grieve with you.
To those who experienced abuse at the hands of your own mother, we acknowledge your experience.


To those who lived through driving tests, medical tests, and the overall testing of motherhood, we are better for having you in our midst.


To those who have aborted children, we remember them and you on this day.


To those who are single and long to be married and mothering your own children, we mourn that life has not turned out the way you longed for it to be.


To those who step-parent, we walk with you on these complex paths.


To those who envisioned lavishing love on grandchildren -yet that dream is not to be, we grieve with you.


To those who will have emptier nests in the upcoming year, we grieve and rejoice with you.


And to those who are pregnant with new life, both expected and surprising, we anticipate with you.


This Mother's Day, we walk with you. Mothering is not for the faint of heart and we have real warriors in our midst. We remember you.

 

0 Comments

Sun

28

Apr

2013

When is it time to get help?

Drug and alcohol addiction is a dangerous and progressive disease, but at what point in the progression is it time to get help from drug rehabilitation professionals?

 

When someone drinks alcohol every day, but never gets drunk, or parties and does cocaine or ecstasy every weekend, but never during the week days, are they addicts in need of drug rehab? We often say that there is an addiction problem when life becomes unmanageable in various ways, however addiction is progressive. For some people nothing seems to be unmanageable until suddenly, everything is.

 

There is no universal scale with which to measure the extent of addiction in everyone who abuses drugs and alcohol, but addiction is a dangerous game to play and no matter what the substance, any abuse is walking a very thin line. It’s tough to figure out who has a problem and who doesn’t. It doesn’t take falling down drunk or multiple drug offenses, or stealing from loved ones to be an addict. All it takes is a dependence - just to feel normal, or to go to sleep for the night.

 

Perhaps, instead of determining addiction as life becoming unmanageable, we should take a look at what is and is not manageable when we don’t drink or do the drugs that normally “get us through” a good night’s sleep or a night out with friends. First, can we deny ourselves that drink or drug and second, has the perceived quality of our life changed in any way without these substances?

 

This is a question that has to be answered on a personal level and hopefully, with vigilance, it can be answered before addiction gets a solid grasp on life and begins to make things unmanageable - making the need for drug and alcohol rehabilitation imminent.

1 Comments

Fri

07

Jun

2013

Question of the day:

What "coping skills" have you acquired since being in recovery?

0 Comments

Sat

25

May

2013

"Teens, the Brain and 12-Step Recovery."

Below is the strength-based version of the 12-Steps that was included in a column, "Creativity Matters", for Counselor magazine.

 

1. I am very powerful over my drug or behavior of addiction as long as I don’t put the substance in my body or behavior into action. And my life won’t become unmanageable if I attend to my needs and have regular interaction with some source(s) of sober support.

 

2. Came to believe that a Power within me would restore me to health and sanity through self-discipline and daily structure.

 

3. Made a decision to turn my will resolutely to a focus on sobriety, productivity and the consequent sanity of my improved sense of self.
The basis of the 12-steps is on an overt and blanket admission of powerlessness over alcohol and other drugs. Operating under the axiom that, “I get drunk and we get sober,” AA encourages members of its fellowship to find God, clean house and help others. Here’s my take on introspection:

 

4. Made a searching and fearless inventory of my positive attributes and committed to further enhancing these strengths.

 

5. Admitted to myself that my past is not my present or future and that I have much to accomplish in honoring my gifts and through service of others.

 

6. Were entirely ready to accept the help of others in enhancing my positive attributes and strength of character.
Ultimately AA was given life by the initial June 10, 1935 meeting in Akron, Ohio between the six-month sober Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith, who was in his cups and very skeptical of the man before him and Wilson’s views on the recovery that had proven so elusive for Dr. Bob. Wilson instinctively knew that he needed others to stay sober:

 

7. Humbly asked for the help of others to join me in this sweet journey of sobriety, dedicating myself to self-improvement and growth in the process.

 

8. Made a decision to abstain from harmful thinking and behaviors, and surround myself with “nutritious” people who will feed a positive sense of me as a valued individual and friend.

 

9. Made amends and forgave myself for the actions of my past, which I acknowledge harmed others and me. Not willing to be stuck, I am committed to moving forward in a spirited not a shameful manner.
The prayer and meditation emphasized by the 12-Steps can easily be seen via daily structure and self-discipline viewed through a spiritual prism of intention:

 

10. Continued to observe my goodness through mindfulness and when veering from my path of purpose, gently guide myself back on track.

 

11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve my conscious contact with the still quiet voice within, praying for guidance and direction.

 

12. Having had a revitalization of my spirit and purpose, I’ll share my message of hope with others needing encouragement.


Copyright Feb. 2010 Thomas M. Greaney

4 Comments

Wed

15

May

2013

Caged

CAGED by April P.
 
I really hated working in early recovery. I quit working at a fast food place because I did not want to deal with the public. The local animal shelter was hiring. I thought that would be perfect for me! Animals don’t talk and won’t get on my nerves! First day on the job I tried to take a dog for a walk but it bit me before I could get it on the leash. So the boss stuck me up in the “cat room” instead.

It was stacked full of cages, one on top of another and another. The pungent smell knocked me back a few steps. Immediately I thought, “and how much are they paying me?” My fellow employees were very nice so I decided that I would at LEAST finish the shift. I cleaned cat cages for 4 straight hours. Yes, it was gross.
For some reason, I kept that job for a while. This was a No-Kill Shelter so some of the cats had been there for a year or more. THIS is when the job got interesting!

I noticed that the cats that were there for a long time refused to come out of their cages, while kittens would jump at the chance at escape. I could coax them out but they would go right back inside. They were “caged” in their minds. Without the cage, they were lost. It was all they knew.
 
I found “powerlessness” outside of a book, outside of a meeting! There it was smacking me in the face every day as I cleaned!  In the beginning, I was like the kitten. I could use and put the drug down and go on my merry way. I was still free. The more I used, the more comfy the cage became. Boxed in, able to see the door but can’t go through it. Just like the cats. Fully aware the cage is open, they decide to stay. Probably makes no sense to the kitten that is running amuck and jumping around. Just like our behavior in addiction makes no sense to the “normal people.”

Working there reminded me that I was unfeeling toward animals in my addiction. I had no use for them. In recovery I see that they are more than I expected them to be! A couple years ago my husband and I adopted a shelter mutt. He is a great comfort to me when I am lonely or sad. I believe animals have a place in God’s world. They are not meant to be caged and neither are we.
Step One brought me out of the cage of powerlessness. I am grateful that I had the awesome opportunity to see it - LIVE and in action! To this day I still look for examples of it in everyday life.
5 Comments

Sun

12

May

2013

A Tribute to Mother's in Recovery

To those who gave birth this year to their first child, we celebrate with you.


To those who lost a child this year, we mourn with you.


To those who are in the trenches with little ones every day and wear the badge of food stains, we appreciate you.


To those who experienced loss through miscarriage, failed adoptions, or running away, we mourn with you.


To those who walk the hard path of infertility, fraught with pokes, prods, tears, and disappointment, we walk with you. Forgive us when we say foolish things. We don't mean to make this harder than it is.


To those who are foster moms, mentor moms, and spiritual moms, we need you.


To those who have warm and close relationships with your children, we celebrate with you.
To those who have disappointment, heart ache, and distance with your children, we sit with you.


To those who lost their mothers this year, we grieve with you.
To those who experienced abuse at the hands of your own mother, we acknowledge your experience.


To those who lived through driving tests, medical tests, and the overall testing of motherhood, we are better for having you in our midst.


To those who have aborted children, we remember them and you on this day.


To those who are single and long to be married and mothering your own children, we mourn that life has not turned out the way you longed for it to be.


To those who step-parent, we walk with you on these complex paths.


To those who envisioned lavishing love on grandchildren -yet that dream is not to be, we grieve with you.


To those who will have emptier nests in the upcoming year, we grieve and rejoice with you.


And to those who are pregnant with new life, both expected and surprising, we anticipate with you.


This Mother's Day, we walk with you. Mothering is not for the faint of heart and we have real warriors in our midst. We remember you.

 

0 Comments

Sun

28

Apr

2013

When is it time to get help?

Drug and alcohol addiction is a dangerous and progressive disease, but at what point in the progression is it time to get help from drug rehabilitation professionals?

 

When someone drinks alcohol every day, but never gets drunk, or parties and does cocaine or ecstasy every weekend, but never during the week days, are they addicts in need of drug rehab? We often say that there is an addiction problem when life becomes unmanageable in various ways, however addiction is progressive. For some people nothing seems to be unmanageable until suddenly, everything is.

 

There is no universal scale with which to measure the extent of addiction in everyone who abuses drugs and alcohol, but addiction is a dangerous game to play and no matter what the substance, any abuse is walking a very thin line. It’s tough to figure out who has a problem and who doesn’t. It doesn’t take falling down drunk or multiple drug offenses, or stealing from loved ones to be an addict. All it takes is a dependence - just to feel normal, or to go to sleep for the night.

 

Perhaps, instead of determining addiction as life becoming unmanageable, we should take a look at what is and is not manageable when we don’t drink or do the drugs that normally “get us through” a good night’s sleep or a night out with friends. First, can we deny ourselves that drink or drug and second, has the perceived quality of our life changed in any way without these substances?

 

This is a question that has to be answered on a personal level and hopefully, with vigilance, it can be answered before addiction gets a solid grasp on life and begins to make things unmanageable - making the need for drug and alcohol rehabilitation imminent.

1 Comments

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