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Post acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) occurs afterwithdrawal from alcohol, opiates and other substances as number of physical andpsychological problems.

What is Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome?

When a person discontinues addictive substance he or she experiencesacute withdrawal symptoms that are typically severe. The first stage ofwithdrawal is usually of physical nature and lasts for a couple of weeks. It is followed by second stage of withdrawalknown as post acute withdrawal syndrome that mainly involves emotional and psychologicalsymptoms. Post acute withdrawal takes place because the brain needs more timeto adapt to a state without habit-forming substances and the brain chemistry torestore to normal. Damage to the nervoussystem may take from six months to two years to reverse and it involves lots ofstress. Since most alcoholics and drug addicts cannot cope with stress withoutsubstance abuse, most of them relapse during post acute withdrawal.

Symptoms of PAWS

Symptoms of post acute withdrawal syndrome can come and gofrom time to time. These symptoms start to appear from three to six monthsafter cessation of taking alcohol or drugs. Post acute withdrawal syndromeincludes many symptoms although most people experience some of them. The mostcommon symptom of PAWS include trouble with solving problems that mainly occurs due to troublethinking clearly, memory problems, trouble sleeping, difficult physicalcoordination, stress, and emotional overreaction. All of this leads to lack ofconfidence and fear of failure which can result in many other problems. Unclearthinking occurs because changes that the brain undergoes due to intake ofaddictive substance require time to improve. This doesn’t affect intelligence butthe brain may occasionally experience malfunction. It may lead to repetitive and rigidthinking as well as inability to concentrate. Memory problems are commonsymptom of post acute withdrawal and short-term memory is especially affected. Aperson has trouble remembering new information and during stressful situationsimportant events from the past may be hard to recall. Emotional overreaction isnormal occurrence during post acute withdrawal. Mood swings and emotional numbnessalso result from this stage of withdrawal. Disturbed sleep and unusual dreamingfollow recovery and may last for short period of time. Finally, maybe the worstsymptom of post acute withdrawal is difficulty managing stress because arecovered person doesn’t know how to deal with it without drugs or alcohol. Also,during high stress, all symptoms of PAWS become worse.

A person must be patient, learn to relax and control postacute withdrawal symptoms to prevent relapse which may be fatal.

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