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Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome

There are two stages of withdrawal. The first is the acute stage, which usually lasts at most a few weeks. During this stage, you may experience physical withdrawal symptoms.

The second stage of withdrawal is called the Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS). During this stage you'll have fewer physical symptoms, but more emotional and psychological withdrawal symptoms.

Post-acute withdrawal occurs because your brain chemistry is gradually returning to normal. As your brain improves, the levels of your brain chemicals fluctuate. As the chemical levels approach their new equilibrium, post-acute withdrawal symptoms are experienced. 

Most people experience some post-acute withdrawal symptoms. These include:

  • mood swings
  • anxiety
  • irritability
  • tiredness
  • variable energy
  • low enthusiasm
  • variable concentration
  • disturbed sleep

Post-acute withdrawal feels like a roller coaster of symptoms. In the beginning, your symptoms will change minute to minute and hour to hour. Later, as you recover further, they will disappear for a few weeks or months only to return again. As you continue to recover, the good stretches will get longer and longer. But the bad periods of post-acute withdrawal can be just as intense and last just as long.

Each post-acute withdrawal episode usually lasts for a few days.

Post-acute withdrawal usually lasts for 2 years. (Reference:

To Survive Post-Acute Withdrawal:

  • Be Patient.
  • Go With the Flow
  • Take Care of Yourself.
  • Relax.
  • Be Prepared. Post-acute withdrawal can be a trigger for relapse. Remember this will go away with time. Every relapse, no matter how small, undoes the gains your brain has made during recovery. Without abstinence everything will fall apart. With abstinence everything is possible. (Reference: