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What to Expect with Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome

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Withdrawal symptoms from drugs and alcohol are widely documented occurrences that almost every addict and non-addict alike are aware of. People entering into rehab are cognizant of the fact that if they were abusing substances like opiates, benzodiazepines, alcohol, or cocaine, they are going to experience a period of uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms that usually persists for a few days to a week.

However, something that is less well known is what can occur after withdrawal symptoms have subsided. Many people believe that once the initial withdrawal symptoms are over, they are then free from the effects that the substances produce on their body and mind. While in some cases this is true, in other cases the individual may experience post acute withdrawal syndrome, which can affect them for weeks or months after their last usage.

What is Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome?

Surprisingly enough, there is still some debate about whether or not post acute withdrawal syndrome is an actual recognizable disorder. It is still not recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and some doctors believe that it is not a separate disorder, but rather is just symptomatology from drug abuse that resembles other disorders.

Those individuals in the recovery communities, however, disagree with this finding and refer to post acute withdrawal syndrome as the feelings of depression, cravings, or other mental peculiarities that arise after traditional withdrawal symptoms have receded. These symptoms usually diminish once an individual begins to work towards their recovery, but can persist after this period.

Symptoms to Expect with Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome

Like with regular withdrawal symptoms, those suffering from post acute withdrawal syndrome will experience a range of similar symptoms. Some people experiencing post acute withdrawal syndrome may even be unaware that they are currently experiencing depression, while others will be completely aware that they are feeling “off.”

The important thing to remember if you are experiencing post acute withdrawal syndrome is that it will pass. You have more than likely been using substances for a number of years and because of this, it will take your mind and body some time to readjust to living a life without the aid of drugs or alcohol. It has to get used to producing the correct chemicals in your brain again and beyond that, you also have to begin to tackle the underlying causes that led to the addiction in the first place.

What this means is that there will be a period of time where you are uncomfortable and maybe don’t feel like yourself. You may feel all out of sorts and because of this, you may feel tempted to return to drinking or using as a way to feel better. Do not succumb to this but continue to push through and all of these symptoms will subside with time.

girl suffering from post acute withdrawal syndrome

Some of the common symptoms that people experience during post acute withdrawal syndrome are:

  •      Depression
  •      Obsession-compulsive behavior
  •      Inability to concentrate
  •      Cravings for drugs or alcohol
  •      Anhedonia
  •      Emotional overreactions
  •      Emotional Numbness
  •      Intense feelings of guilt
  •      Generalized anxiety
  •      Sleep disturbances
  •      Panic Disorders

Depending on your own physiological makeup and the events surrounding your attempt at recovery, you may experience none of these symptoms, or you may experience a few of these symptoms. If you find that after you are done withdrawing you begin to experience any of the symptoms listed above, it is important that you reach out to a professional, while also continuing to move forward with your recovery. Many people get stuck in a revolving door of detox and relapse because they find that dealing with the initial depression that sets in, in early sobriety, is just too much for them to deal with it. They return to the drink or the drug in order to stave these post acute withdrawal symptoms off, but in the end, in order to get sober, they will eventually have to deal with them.

How to Get Through Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome

First and foremost, if you are suffering from depression or any of the symptoms listed above, you should talk to a professional about this, as they can help guide you through your depression and if necessary, get you the medication you need.

Second, it is important to remember that early recovery, and by that I mean the first few months, are bound to be a harrowing experience. This does not mean that you will feel like this forever though and what you will find is that after a few months and after starting to work a program of recovery, you will invariably feel better than you have felt in quite some time.

These first few months are mostly something that must be endured, but if you can make it out of them with your recovery intact, you will find that your whole life will be changed for the better and that the feelings of withdrawal and post acute withdrawal are nothing but a distant memory.

So if you are currently experiencing post acute withdrawals and you don’t really know what to do—continue to go to meetings, continue to work the Steps, and continue to reach out to people close to you. You do not have to go through this experience alone and with the support of loved ones and your fellows in recovery, you can make it out the other side to a life of recovery and happiness.

Seeking Treatment for Alcoholism or Addiction

Getting clean and sober from drugs and alcohol is the most important thing that an addict or alcoholic can do in their life. It is also the most anxiety producing and frightening thing that they can do in their life, but it doesn’t need to be. With help from the professionals at Elevations Health, you can find a new life in sobriety with the least amount of resistance possible. So call us today at 1-866-200-3224 and begin your journey to recovery the right way, with Elevation Health.

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One response to “What to Expect with Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome

  1. Hello. It’s been just about three months since I drank and I was drinking for about 7-8 years of liquor and I still have some anxiety and shortness of breath. Is this normal?

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