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Understanding Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome

Drugs and alcohol can take a significant toll on your body, especially if they are used for long periods before reaching sobriety.

From physical and mental changes to those that affect your emotions and overall well-being, addiction can cause detrimental long-term effects long after the drugs or alcohol have left your body.

If you or a loved one has recently decided to become sober and are planning on detoxing, it is vital to know the signs and symptoms of post-acute withdrawal syndrome.

Detoxing from drugs or alcohol is no easy feat. As most understand, lingering detox symptoms are common for those who decide on sobriety.

The good news is that you don’t have to suffer from the severity of symptoms associated with post-acute withdrawal syndrome. Our team can help ease your symptoms and help you stay sober for the long haul.

Let’s dive deeper into understanding post-acute withdrawal syndrome, including signs, symptoms, and treatment options.

What Is Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome?

Post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) is a medical condition characterized by the experience of several withdrawal-related symptoms that persist for weeks or months after abstaining from a particular substance.

PAWS is sometimes referred to as

  • Post-withdrawal syndrome
  • Prolonged withdrawal syndrome
  • Protracted withdrawal syndrome

PAWS symptoms most commonly occur after a certain amount of time of withdrawal from alcohol, benzodiazepines, and opioids.


PAWS symptom type and severity differ from person to person, but the most common symptoms include:

  • Memory issues
  • Difficulty focusing or paying attention for long periods of time
  • Urges and cravings
  • Irritability
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Fatigue
  • Trouble with fine motor skills
  • A heightened sensitivity to stress
  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Depression
  • Lack of motivation
  • Mood swings

It is important to note that some early withdrawal symptoms you experience in the days following the discontinuation of drugs or alcohol could mimic the symptoms of PAWS.

It’s also important to recognize that PAWS symptoms are temporary and will not last forever. Most symptoms last for a few days at a time. Typically, the entire healing process takes 6 months to 2 years before the brain naturally produces healthy endorphins and dopamine levels.

Can PAWS Be Avoided?

The short answer is no.

Although complete avoidance isn’t possible, there are effective ways to mitigate the symptoms you experience to make your recovery journey more manageable.

By taking control of your symptoms, you reduce your risk of relapse and experience higher levels of physical, mental, and emotional health sooner.

The best way to reduce symptom severity is by working with an addiction and recovery specialist as soon as possible before or after detox.

Effective PAWS Treatment in Alpine, Utah

It is important to remember that treating addiction and post-acute withdrawal syndrome is often a complex and deeply personal process that requires assistance for both.

For most, a successful outcome requires intensive attention to the current symptoms and past behaviors associated with the original addiction.

If you or a loved one is struggling with PAWS, our experienced and compassionate team at Alpine Recovery Lodge is here to provide comprehensive care as part of your medically assisted detox treatment plan.

Your sobriety and mental health are our top priorities. Contact us today to get the help you need today.