During the early stages of recovery, after acute withdrawal ceases, your brain needs time to adjust to life without drugs or alcohol. It’s a big adjustment and a bumpy road with mixed up thinking patterns and feelings that might not even make sense. Some experts refer to these symptoms as PAWS, or post-acute withdrawal syndrome (protracted withdrawal syndrome).
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), you may feel…
- Grief in letting go of your use
- “Stranded” and wondering “what now?”
- Alone or that you lost the friends or family who are still using
- Deprived or that sobriety is like punishment
- Strange doing ordinary activities — you’ve forgotten how to do things sober
- Pain and aches
- Mental fog or like you can’t think clearly
- Anxious or depressed
- Spaced out
- Emotionally unstable – extremes ranging from anger to self-pity to defensiveness
Coping With Brain Changes
The good news is that these emotions (while tumultuous and tough to handle) mean that your brain is recovering. You are on the road to recovery. Try not to be too hard on yourself during this time and don’t take on too much, notes the SAMHSA, who also offers these tips:
- Avoid doing things that could make you feel worse, for example, overdoing it on junk food or caffeinated drinks.
- Get as much sleep as possible.
- Eat well, including healthy snacks so you don’t become hungry.
- Ask an addiction professional about vitamins to restore needed nutrition.
- Try to look for the humor in situations.
- Remind yourself that you’ll feel better soon if you stay sober.
Supporting You and Your Recovery
Because clients are highly susceptible to relapse while experiencing PAWS, it is highly recommended that clients remain in residential addiction treatment for at least two to four weeks following detox. To learn more about our detox and rehab, call today: 303-625-6335.