man sitting against the wall
By BrightView
Published: March 18, 2022
Updated: March 10, 2022

When a person with substance use disorder stops using drugs or alcohol, they will experience withdrawal symptoms and cravings for the substance. The severity of these symptoms will vary from person to person, but most people are through the worst of it by the end of the second week. However, others may experience longer, more drawn-out withdrawal symptoms known as post-acute withdrawal symptoms or PAWS. Some people may even wonder, “What are post-acute withdrawal symptoms?” If this occurs, an outpatient addiction treatment center will be essential for helping deal with post-acute withdrawal symptoms.

We realize that recovery from substance use disorder is different for everyone at BrightView, so we offer various treatment programs at our outpatient addiction treatment center to meet your needs. Whether you need help getting through acute withdrawal or post-acute withdrawal symptoms that are presenting a challenge, we have a treatment program that is right for you. Connect with us online or call us today at 888.501.9865 to learn more about our treatment options for PAWS.

What Are Post-Acute Withdrawal Symptoms?

So, what are post-acute withdrawal symptoms? Post-acute withdrawal symptoms are symptoms that endure beyond the standard withdrawal period. Depending on the substance used, acute withdrawal typically lasts a few days to two weeks. Some people continue to experience the discomfort of withdrawal long after this, which is known as post-acute withdrawal.

You may not realize you are dealing with post-acute withdrawal symptoms at first since the symptoms can sometimes come and go. You may think you are out of the wood, but the symptoms reappear a few days later.

Some common symptoms of PAWS include:

  • Inability to concentrate, brain fog, poor memory
  • Difficulty experiencing pleasure
  • Cravings for drugs or alcohol
  • Anxiety, depression, panic attacks
  • Mood swings
  • Overwhelming fatigue
  • Insomnia

Symptoms of post-acute withdrawal are fairly similar to those of acute withdrawal. The main difference is that they last longer and focus more on mental and psychological symptoms. PAWS does not usually involve much physical discomfort.

Who Is at Risk of PAWS?

Certain factors can make you more susceptible to experiencing post-acute withdrawal symptoms:

  • Quitting substances cold turkey
  • Having used drugs or alcohol over a long period
  • Using high doses of substances
  • Daily or frequent use of drugs or alcohol
  • High-stress levels
  • Poor quality sleep

Any drug or alcohol can lead to post-acute withdrawal syndrome since it can change how the brain functions. Once your brain has become dependent on a substance for pleasurable feelings, it will lose its ability to produce dopamine, the feel-good hormone, on its own. It will take time, but eventually, your brain will regain normal functioning so you can get back to feeling more emotionally balanced.

How Are Post-Acute Withdrawal Symptoms Treated?

Talk to your treatment team or your physician to develop a treatment plan that will help alleviate PAWS.

Your recovery plan will likely include:

  • A tapering schedule if your physician feels it is necessary to minimize withdrawal symptoms
  • Ongoing behavioral therapy to work through mental health conditions, to teach you healthy coping skills, and develop a relapse prevention plan
  • Medication to alleviate stubborn withdrawal symptoms and manage co-occurring disorders
  • Holistic therapies help you incorporate healthy lifestyle changes such as good nutrition, regular exercise, stress reduction, and plenty of restful sleep

Treatment for post-acute withdrawal symptoms is the same as acute withdrawal symptoms, as your brain needs additional time to recover. Practice self-compassion and patience as your body heals.

Get Help Dealing with Post-Acute Withdrawal Symptoms at BrightView

BrightView is here to help those dealing with post-acute withdrawal symptoms stay on track with their recovery. No matter how long it takes, we will be by your side and help you feel more comfortable and confident on your journey to a healthier lifestyle. Call us today at 888.501.9865 or reach out to us to learn more about our treatment for PAWS.