Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome

Posted on 6th February 2015

I've just had permission to share with you this excellent post on a Facebook site. I believe it gives us a very real and positive explanantion for the Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome. There's no doubt that, for me, the last two months' wave at two years out was more severe and more intense than my acute stage at eight weeks out. BUT take heart I feel so much better at this moment and continue to gradually return to the me I had almost lost touch with.......

Regrettably, as well documented as these issues are, the actual medical evidence is minimal – and of course, the disorder does not show up in the DSM or many other diagnostic manuals. For this and other reasons, many health care providers simply will not acknowledge its existence. That said, because there is so much anecdotal evidence available, most experts agree this is real. As you know, the theory suggests that many of the problems associated with some longer-term pharmacological use do not stem directly from drugs. Instead, they are associated with physical and psychological changes that occur after the chemicals have left our bodies. When we use certain psychoactive substances for a period of time, our brains actually undergo physical change to cope with the presence of the drug in our body. When we remove the drugs, our brains then demand more to satisfy the desire caused by the changes. The extreme symptoms that we experience immediately after we stop using (as you know well) are called “acute withdrawal".  Acute withdrawal , unfortunately, is not the whole story. Our bodies make initial adjustments to the absence of the drug, and the major symptoms ease up. However, the changes that have occurred in our brains need time to revert back to their original state – and that takes time. During the period of time while this is occurring, they can cause a variety of problems known as  Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome  (PAWS). The good news is PAWS is not permanent but does take time to run its course and correct. Unfortunately, the nature of PAWS often leads an individual to believe that they will never recover completely. Of course, this kind of thinking can and in some cases does lead the individual back to the substance which is a very bad decision. Please know that progress can be slow – seemingly up and down which is so frustrating. Also know that each day you’re getting a little better even if may appear imperceptible to you. Be relentless, continue to talk with your support groups and never give up!

I don't attend any support groups nor do I have a counsellor at present but I do talk to many people on the various support sites as well as through email and telephone contact. It all helps us to know we are not alone and will recover however protracted we may be. 🙂

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