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PAWS is an acronym for Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome. This syndrome consists of a set of symptoms that afflict a person who has recently detoxed from drugs or alcohol. Physical and psychological symptoms of PAWS begin immediately after the Acute Withdrawal stage of detox and can continue for months or even years. Unfortunately, not all treatment centers make PAWS management a focus of treatment. In some cases patients are not even educated about this condition and are therefore likely to relapse repeatedly without understanding why. Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome is the most significant obstacle to any person’s recovery from addiction and should therefore be made a critical focus of a drug rehab treatment plan.,The first step in recovery from alcoholism or substance abuse is to detox. This refers to the process whereby the body rids itself of the chemicals that have been introduced to the system. During detox a variety of symptoms may occur as the body seeks to balance itself. In most cases these symptoms can be managed with relaxation and breathing techniques, but in other cases they must be medicated or medically managed. However, once detox is over PAWS sets in, which is far less intense and less noticeable, but often poses more of a threat to a person’s sobriety.,Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome begins immediately after detox and usually lasts for 3 to 6 months. In some cases no symptoms are reported, in others the symptoms are severe, while in still others the symptoms are persistent for a year or more. In general these symptoms make it difficult for a person to maintain relationships, work a job, attend school or perform regular duties or functions correctly and consistently. The specific symptoms of PAWS include:,Inability to focus for extended periods of time,Inability to organize thoughts,Difficulties with communication,Insomnia,Inability to remember events or information,Feelings of depression, low self worth, mania,Inability to feel joy or pleasure,Sexual dysfunction,Sometimes these symptoms are severe and consistent enough that it can make the sufferer appear to be using drugs again. In fact, Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome has a physical component to it that led to the term “dry drunk.” Some people with PAWS experience difficulties with fine motor skills and even gross motor skills, which can cause them to fumble objects, drop things and stumble while walking. This can lead to a severe state of embarrassment and social anxiety that can exacerbate already damaging PAWS symptoms.,Most experts agree that relapse episodes are generally caused by PAWS. In an effort to seek relief from the discomfort and emotional damage that can occur from these symptoms, many people in recovery will turn to drugs or alcohol to self-medicate or cope with PAWS. However, this doesn’t have to be the case. Proper education about what Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome is and how it can be treated is essential. In many cases, medication is appropriate and can help immediately. But for most people, coping with PAWS involves working an honest daily recovery and treatment plan that must be maintained for life.

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