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Dealing with PAWS after Ohio Drug Rehab

Last Updated: February 15, 2023

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For those struggling with addiction, one of the most common concerns about entering rehab is dealing with withdrawal symptoms during and immediately after detox. Withdrawal symptoms can be uncomfortable, but with proper professional care (and sometimes medication), they are also manageable. This article explains post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS), why it occurs, and what symptoms it causes. Most importantly, the article reveals how you can cope with it during the recovery process and after rehab.

What is PAWS?

PAWS is defined as “a series of post-acute symptoms of recovery from dependence on benzodiazepines, barbiturates, and ethanol; opiates; and sometimes, antidepressants” but can also affect those who are recovering from alcoholism.  Symptoms of PAWS include mood swings that can manifest like an affective or personality disorder as well as insomnia, extreme drug cravings, inability to feel pleasure from anything other than the drug, obsessive thoughts, anxiety attacks, suicidal ideation, and generalized cognitive impairment.”

Most PAWs symptoms last anywhere from days to weeks but can be longer depending on the strength of the drug that was abused, the duration of the addiction, and heaviness of use.

The Science Behind PAWS 

PAWS is generally believed to be the result of a number of changes that occur in the brain during substance abuse and immediately after stopping drinking or drug use. The brain is quite adaptive to behaviors and, as a result, will accommodate the changes by rerouting available neurotransmitters and increasing dopamine.

Once you stop using a substance, a sudden drop in dopamine short-circuits your reward centers and shocks the brain, causing high levels of excitability and distress during withdrawal. This means that the brain’s capacity to deal with stress and disruptions to your routine (especially a cessation of substance use) are also diminished during this time.

Coping with PAWS

Everyone knows that recovery is not easy, but it is essential for those who want to live happier, healthier lives free from dependency on substances. Most addiction specialists and healthcare providers are well aware of PAWS and the effect it has on recovering addicts. Unfortunately, many addicts and their loved ones are not aware of it, so the condition may come as a nasty shock to those who are taking the important step of seeking help for their illness.

Thankfully, with proper treatment, overcoming PAWS is a manageable step on the road to recovery and should not derail anyone from getting clean. There are specialized treatments for acute detox, which are best administered by a medical professional in a controlled setting. These include prescribed medicine and counseling. It is important to remember that much like the symptoms of addiction and resultant PAWS were not created overnight, there is no “quick fix” for the symptoms. However, with proper treatment and self-care, many have successfully overcome this hurdle to a full recovery.

Want addiction help for yourself or a loved one? Contact Recovery Village Columbus in Ohio today to learn about admission and access information about how we can help with every aspect of addiction recovery.


Our Recovery Advocates are ready to answer your questions about addiction treatment and help you start your recovery.