Treating PAWS

Tips for Surviving PAWS

treating PAWS

Post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) is frequently seen in individuals who have already completed the acute detox phase.  Treating PAWS requires patience and good self-care.  Here are some additional tips for reducing the effects of PAWS.

Be patient. You can’t hurry recovery. But you can get through it one day at a time.

Post-acute withdrawal symptoms are a sign that your brain is recovering. 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.

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.

Being able to relax will help you in treating PAWS. 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.

Communicate How You are Feeling

Talk about what you are experiencing with your Twelve Step peers, sponsor, counselor, therapist, or family—anyone who will not criticize or minimize your experience.

Become a “Monday morning quarterback”—carefully reviewing the events that preceded the flare-up of your PAWS symptoms, and your reaction to them.

Consider starting a journal to document your experiences and identifying alternative ways of responding next time.

Practice Good Self-Care

Practice self-care. Give yourself lots of little breaks over the next two years. 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.

Exercise regularly.  Exercise causes the brain to release chemicals that make you feel good.  Stretching – to reduce muscle tension – and aerobic exercise such as running, biking, or swimming, are recommended for those in recovery.

Eat a well-balanced diet.  Proper nutrition is important in recovery.  What you eat has a great deal to do with the level of stress you experience and your body’s ability to cope with PAWS symptoms. 

Spirituality.  Belief in a power great than yourself gives your life meaning and purpose.  Spiritual discipline includes prayer, meditation, fellowship, and regular inventory of spiritual growth.

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