How to Minimize Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome from Opiates?
Post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) from opiates can be minimized, but it is important to take the correct steps to get there.
What is Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome?
When you're in the early stages of recovering from opioid dependence, post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS), whether mildly unpleasant or extremely uncomfortable, is unavoidable. If the post-acute syndrome persists for a long time, it can become a risk factor for relapse.
Post-acute withdrawal syndrome describes a collection of symptoms following the "acute" stage of opiate withdrawal. Acute withdrawal occurs after a professionally supervised detox, and it can result in life-threatening complications and signs of physical discomfort like elevated heart rate, headaches, nausea, and muscular aches. Usually, these symptoms go away in two weeks or less. PAWS refers to the psychological and emotional symptoms that occur during the second withdrawal phase. You are more likely to experience PAWS if you used opioids for a long period of time, and usually in greater doses.1
When Does Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome Occur?
Stress or circumstances involving people, places, or things that remind the individual of using opiates can often lead to symptoms. Many people in the recovery phase compare the symptoms of PAWS to a roller coaster that goes up and down, or waves that come and go.
Symptoms can switch minute by minute in the early process of quitting substances. The symptoms become less frequent as people enter long-term recovery from alcohol or drug addiction.
What Are the Most Common Symptoms of PAWS?
To reduce the risk of relapse, you need to be able to recognize some of the symptoms of PAWs. Some of the most common symptoms include:
Common Drugs And Their Associated Post-Acute Withdrawal Symptoms
Some drugs can causeMarijuana severe symptoms of post-acute withdrawal syndrome. These will be detailed below.
Research shows that abruptly stopping the use of marijuana can cause post-acute withdrawal symptoms once acute detox is over. Common post-acute withdrawal opiate symptoms from marijuana are anxiety, headache, irritability, insomnia, and several physical conditions like changes in appetite and stomach pain.
As many people use marijuana daily, and sometimes multiple times a day, suddenly stopping its usage might cause the body to go into enough of a “shock” that causes PAWS.
Common PAWS symptoms for methamphetamine are irritability, insomnia, and poor impulse control.3
Common symptoms of post-acute withdrawal syndrome for opioids include poor impulse control, muscle tension, intense craving, anxiety, depression, and insomnia.
Cocaine is well known for having a variety of long-lasting symptoms. Several users experience sadness, low motivation, weariness, and issues with impulse control.
Benzodiazepines like Klonopin, Ativan, and Xanax cause common PAWS symptoms, including insomnia, sleep disturbance, irritability, panic attacks, and intense anxiety.4
Diagnosis of Post-Acute Withdrawal Symptoms
There is no specific diagnostic test to confirm PAWS, but your doctor may perform the following:
Why Do We Experience Post-Acute Withdrawal?
Whether moderate or severe, post-acute withdrawal is a common step in the early stages of recovering from alcohol or other drug dependence. Consider the withdrawal symptoms as the brain's attempt to restore the chemical imbalances created when the addiction was active.
During the period of drug use, the brain would have adapted and reconfigured to function with those drugs present, so once there’s drug withdrawal, the brain is unable to function properly, which results in the manifestation of post-acute withdrawal symptoms.
How to Minimize Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome?
To minimize post-acute withdrawal syndrome from opiates, the first thing that must be done is gradually reducing the concentration of opiates in the body. This helps to reduce the severity of any of the withdrawal symptoms.5
Can PAWS Be Avoided?
Avoiding PAWS isn't entirely possible. However, you can effectively manage your symptoms and improve emotionally and physically by sticking to your treatment regimen. It will reduce the risk of relapse and boost your motivation.
How Long Do Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome Symptoms Usually Last?
Depending on the type of alcohol or drug addiction, the amount and frequency of substance use, and other factors (everyone's withdrawal pattern is a little different), the majority of symptoms only last a few days at a time. In some cases, however, symptoms could last for weeks or even months.
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How to Cope With Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome
Here are some of the practical tips on how you can manage the symptoms of PAWS effectively:
Get Help For Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome at San Diego Detox
Post-acute withdrawal syndrome can be challenging to navigate. However, help is available. Several outpatient treatment options can help you through the post-acute withdrawal stage of recovery and avoid relapsing. San Diego Detox is a clinic that provides quality detoxification and other treatment plans to help you with your post-withdrawal syndrome.
At San Diego Detox, we’re committed to helping you get the best treatment you deserve. Contact us today, and let's give you or your loved one the help you deserve.