Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS)
What is post acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS)?
PAWS is a group of symptoms that happen after acute alcohol withdrawal. It often happens when you are no longer in the hospital. PAWS can make it hard to live a healthy lifestyle.
Who does PAWS affect?
PAWS affects people who have had long-term alcohol use. The effects are also based on factors listed below.
- Length and amount of use
- State of health
When does it start and how long does it last?
Acute alcohol withdrawal can last from a few days to a week. PAWS begins after this. Based on the amount of alcohol you used, PAWS can last for weeks to months. Longer and heavier use of alcohol can cause more severe PAWS symptoms that can last even longer.
What are the symptoms of PAWS?
- Emotional outbursts or lack of emotion
- Difficulty dealing with stress
- Low energy
- Having a hard time sleeping, strange dreams, and changes in sleep patterns
- Memory problems that make it hard to learn new things
- Trouble thinking clearly, making decisions, and solving problems
- Problems with balance and delayed reflexes
- Feeling dizzy
These symptoms can frustrate you and your support system.
What can I do about PAWS?
Know the symptoms and have a plan to deal with them when they happen. Below is a list of ideas that may help.
- Know your support system. It can be family, friends, counselors, health care providers, and your spiritual group.
- Stay in touch with your support system.
- Make a daily routine that allows time to rest and relax.
- Try to have a routine sleep pattern.
- Eat a balanced diet rich in fruits and veggies.
- Exercise can help reduce stress and increase your energy.
- Treat yourself with patience and understanding.
- Take time to take care of your spiritual self and do things that bring you comfort.
- Be good to yourself.
A note to your support system
When your loved one is going through PAWS they may need extra support from you. Ask what you can do to support your loved one through PAWS.
Addictions and Recovery Organization. (2010). Post-Acute Withdrawal (PAWS). Retrieved from http://www.addictionsandrecovery.org.
Heilig, M., Egli, M., Crabbe, J., Becker,H.. (2010) Acute withdrawal, protracted abstinence and negative effect in alcohol. Addictive Biology. Apr;15(2):169-84.
Martinotti,G., Cloninger R., Janiri L.. (2008) Temperament and Character Inventory Dimensions and Anhedonia in Detoxified Substance-Dependent Subjects The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, 34: 177–183, 2008
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Last Updated: 07/05/2011
Copyright © 07/05/2011 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#7228
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