Daily Archives: 10/08/2014

PAWS still has claws out

A well recognised phenomenon when giving up the booze is Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS) and I wrote about it initially here.

At coming up 11 months not every day is rainbows and unicorns and pink clouds and I decided to revisit the subject to check if it was me who was just being funky or if there was something else afoot (excuse the pun!).

Turns out PAWS can last 2 years which I find ever so slightly depressing if I’m honest.  One of the good people at BFB on Yahoo shared a link to an article on Addictions and Recovery.org. and this is what it says:

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.

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.

So having read this I’ve been wondering if the periods of funkiness I’ve been experiencing have just been PAWS after all and revisiting this has made me go easier on myself as it is just my brain still trying to equalise out.  The article goes on to say don’t resent them but remember, even after one year, you are still only half way there’. The piece goes on to offer some hints and tips to help, and to summarise they are:

  1. Be patient
  2. Go with the flow
  3. Practice self-care
  4. Remember they can be a trigger for relapse, so proceed with caution
  5. Being able to relax will help  you through

So big deep breath in and out I have to just keep trucking on and be mindful that this will be part of the process for the foreseeable future even when all those firsts are done.

42 days to go