Managing Long Term Withdrawal Symptoms

Get Informed: Learn More About the Different Stages to Managing Long Term Withdrawal Symptoms

Suffering from long-term withdrawal symptoms is one of the many feared consequences of stopping substance abuse or an addiction. Many patients delay going to rehab out of fear that they will suffer from painful symptoms once they quit.

Long-term withdrawal symptoms are, in the general sense, the group of signs and sensations one experiences after going through a detoxification and/or substance abuse treatment. While the majority of patients understand that these are expected, for some, experiencing post-acute withdrawal syndrome may come up as a discomforting surprise.

Post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) is the set of persistent and uncomfortable signs the body experiences when intake of a particular substance has stopped. These signs and symptoms appear within hours, or days, after the person has stopped taking the drug or medication, and can persist for weeks or even months at a time depending on the substance.

There are many substances or drug classifications associated with the appearance of long-term withdrawal symptoms. This is in part because these particular substances have a long-lasting stimulant effect on the brain’s neurotransmitters and receptors.

The most common substances that trigger post-acute withdrawal syndrome are:

  • Alcohol
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Antidepressants
  • Opioids
  • Stimulants

Health statistics show that 75% to 90% of people that have taken and/or abused any of these substances, will experience post-acute withdrawal syndrome at some point during their recovery journey.

While experiencing physical cravings and minor discomfort is a normal reaction to the body’s struggle to regain its natural chemical balance, long-term withdrawal symptoms can be a heavier burden for patients in recovery.

Some of the heavier symptoms a person can experience during PAWS are:

  • Severe anxiety
  • Restlessness and sleep difficulties
  • Persistent fatigue and lack of energy
  • Lack of motivation
  • Mood swings
  • Inability or difficulty in concentrating
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Dysphoria or depression
  • Obsessive thoughts and cravings

In addition to these, some people may experience erratic behavior, suicidal thoughts and panic attacks.

There is not a fixed post-acute withdrawal syndrome treatment to “magically” cure the effects of detoxing and withdrawal, but there are many ways through which a patient can cope with the symptoms.

Some of the methodologies addiction experts use as part of a post-acute withdrawal syndrome treatment include: participating in holistic therapies (yoga and meditation, art therapy, music therapy, etc.) that can trigger the natural production of dopamine and endorphins, using biofeedback therapy to understand withdrawal, and the use of medication for particular circumstances and under strict medical supervision.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is another post-acute withdrawal syndrome treatment used by rehabilitation facilities to tackle the symptoms. This works by focusing on the development of coping strategies that can change unhealthy patterns and behaviors, and promote emotional regulation.

Moreover, addiction specialists and counselors understand that long-term withdrawal symptoms may be really uncomfortable, but that it is nonetheless a condition that will improve with time, and that a person will likely recover successfully.

Some of the recommendations for patients that are struggling with PAWS can include:

  • Getting informed: knowing what to expect, and understanding that it is something almost everyone in recovery will experience
  • Get as much rest as possible during this phase: rest and recuperation is extremely helpful for both the body and the mind
  • Get support: from your medical professionals, from counselors and loved ones. Stay involved and allow for them to provide guidance and reassurance
  • Practice self-love and self-care: recognize your efforts and hard work, knowing that for every “bad” or complicated day you have, you can have many good ones.

Recovery may be a long and complex journey, but with the right support and a positive mindset everyone can achieve sobriety and regain control of their life.

Sources:

https://www.drugabuse.gov/sites/default/files/files/ClinicalOpiateWithdrawalScale.pdf

http://store.samhsa.gov/shin/content/SMA10-4554/SMA10-4554.pdf

If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

About the Author

is a proud alumni member of WhiteSands Treatment. After living a life of chaos, destruction and constant let downs, Mark was able to make a complete turnaround that sparked a new way of life. He is serious about his recovery along with helping others. At WhiteSands Treatment, we offer support to you in your homes or when you are out living in your daily lives.