Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS) – What it is, Symptoms & Treatment

Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome

When people repeatedly use drugs or alcohol, they may become dependent upon these substances and develop an addiction to them. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, one of the criteria for an addiction is the experience of withdrawal, which involves uncomfortable symptoms that occur when a person abruptly stops using drugs or alcohol.

When most people think of drug and alcohol withdrawal, they probably imagine the unpleasant side effects that occur right after a person stops using drugs or drinking. While this is one form of withdrawal, there is a second presentation, called post-acute withdrawal syndrome, which lasts longer.

What is acute withdrawal?

Acute withdrawal involves the initial withdrawal side effects that begin rather quickly after a person stops using drugs or alcohol, and pass after a few days. The symptoms of acute withdrawal will vary depending upon the substance a person was using.

For example, as the World Health Organization has reported, withdrawal from opiates like heroin begins 8 to 24 hours after a person stops using and involves the following side effects:

Understanding the Blurred Lines Between Abuse and Addiction

Abuse vs Addiction

What is Addiction?

Not everyone who uses a drug will become addicted. Addiction is the process in which the brain and body become reliant on a substance. Addiction is classified as a brain disorder in the DMV. The most recent edition only 2 criteria are required for a diagnosis. Drug use is not the same for everyone. Many people who try drugs never become addicted. Yet, some will become instantly hooked. They are consumed with seeking out the next high.

Fighting the Stigma of Drug Rehab

Drug addiction is a growing epidemic in America. The public is desensitized to the medical and psychological needs that are necessary to treat addiction. Addicts who hit rock bottom are often without support. The American Medical Association agrees that addiction is a progressive and complex brain disorder. Educating the public regarding addiction is a critical step to destigmatize drug treatment programs. However, little progress has altered the minds of the public. The stigma and shame of addiction continue to prevent many people from seeking the care they require. The constant blame for their disease only promotes shames. There is no shortage of information proving that addiction is a progressive brain disease. Still, this doesn’t stop many from condemning addicts. Addiction is still considered as a moral failing.

What is Spectrum Addiction Abuse?

Spectrum abuse encompasses everything from mild concerns to advanced addiction. By viewing drug consumption on a spectrum, we see problems sooner. People can be struggling long before they would have traditionally been labeled an addict. On one end of the spectrum is experimentation and, on the other, someone in the grips of advanced addiction. Between those two extremes, there is plenty of grey area. While these do not always indicate an issue, they can provide a way to make a clear assessment.

Understanding Heroin Addiction – the ugly truth behind the syringe

Understanding Heroin Addiction

Many people who talk about opioid addiction think of prescription medications. That’s certainly what I thought. Prescription narcotics are more readily available, easier to access, and more prevalent; or so I thought. Heroin, aka. Smack is the end of the line for addicts. It’s incredibly hard to break free from this addiction. You’re both physically and mentally addicted. The withdrawal symptoms can be deadly and at times, last for weeks or even months.

History of heroin

Heroin was originally derived from poppy seeds. The poppy seeds are taken, refines and the resin is turned into morphine. Then with the addition of other substances, it’s purified and turned into heroin. Developed in 1948 the Bayer Pharmaceutical it was originally pushed is as a tuberculosis treatment. It can cost almost $200 per day for a long-time addict to keep up with his needs.

Life as an addict

When we imagine what the life of an addict looks like, we often think of disgusting trap houses filled with junkies. Though this can be the case, the truth is far more sinister. Anyone can become an addict. One injury. A few bad choices have a domino effect, quickly overtaking someone’s life. Once heroin has its hooks in all you can think about is the next score. You stop eating, sleeping, and taking care of yourself.

A high functioning addict can appear, for a while, to have their life together. On the outside, they might look like a successful salesman or a quirky bus driver but internally they’re struggling with the “monkey on the back” They go home, and the darkness takes over. The duality of these 2 realities is impossible to maintain. The drug eventually takes over relationships, affects job performance, and mental health.

As addiction takes its toll, you’ll notice the “heroin addict look”. They’ll get dark circles permanently under their eyes, sunken cheeks, and a blank stare as if they’re not truly there. If you know someone with a heroin addiction let them know they are not alone but they must get help. It’s not a choice, it is a sickness that you must fight or end up losing everything. People become unrecognizable while in the grips of addiction and loving patience is necessary on the path to recovery. The road to healing is a long one.

Alcoholism (AUD) vs. Drug Addiction (SUD): Are they the same thing?

Drugs & Alcohol

Society tends to treat alcohol and drugs as separate categories, the starkest difference being the issue of legality. Alcohol is generally treated as a more acceptable substance, while the vast majority of drugs (with marijuana being a very partial and recent exception) are stigmatized. The legality of alcohol has contributed to it becoming by far the most common addiction in the United States.

The difference in social attitudes can make a significant difference in the trajectory of recovery. A heroin addict may experience rejection by society, while the alcoholic may enjoy support or at least lower levels of stigma. These dynamics mean that a hard drug user is more likely to experience devastating social consequences as a result of their maladies, such as losing careers or families. All these elements put together, mean that a drug addict (especially one dependent on “hard drugs”), may face a more difficult road to recovery than an alcoholic with a comparably severe habit.

The social stigma can also adversely affect drug addicts. Believing their problems are more serious, drug users may believe that overcoming addictions will be a more serious undertaking than it would be for their alcohol-dependent counterparts. Besides, drug users may be more concerned over the fallout of publicly admitting their addiction, due to the intense social stigma. For these reasons, social stigma may hamper the recovery of drug addicts.

Delirium Tremens (DTs): What is it, Signs, Timeline, Risk Factors & Treatment

Delirium Tremens

What is Delirium Tremens?

When a person becomes addicted to alcohol, a professional will diagnose an alcohol use disorder. One of the symptoms of an alcohol use disorder is the experience of withdrawal, or unpleasant side effects, when a person reduces alcohol consumption or stops drinking. Withdrawal occurs because the body becomes dependent upon alcohol and then does not function properly without it.

Sometimes alcohol withdrawal is mild and includes symptoms such as tremor, headache, and upset stomach, which pass within a few days, according to the Industrial Psychiatry Journal. On the other hand, severe cases of withdrawal can lead to a serious condition called delirium tremens. Experts report that only about 5 percent of people who suffer from alcohol withdrawal will experience delirium tremens, but those who do will require immediate medical treatment.

Alcohol Withdrawal Protocol

Alcohol Withdrawal Protocol

Moderate drinking, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has defined as one drink per day for women and two per day for men, can be safe for people who are of legal drinking age and who do not have health conditions that make alcohol consumption dangerous.

While moderate drinking is generally acceptable from a health standpoint, drinking more than a moderate amount can result in health consequences, such as injuries, increased risk of cancer, and even alcohol addiction.

When a person develops an alcohol addiction, which medical professionals diagnose as an alcohol use disorder, he or she is likely to undergo alcohol withdrawal when alcohol consumption is reduced or stopped.

In cases of alcohol withdrawal, it is important to seek the advice and care of a medical professional to prevent complications. Professionals who treat alcohol withdrawal will follow an alcohol withdrawal protocol to ensure the best outcomes for patients.

Xanax (Alprazolam) Withdrawal Signs & Symptoms

Xanax Withdrawal Signs & Symptoms

Xanax is used to treat individuals with anxiety disorders, panic disorders, PTSD, and a host of other conditions. This popular drug helps ease patient’s mental distress and can even help you sleep better at night. However, this substance is not meant to be used over a long period of time.

In fact, those who use Xanax longer than they should will experience symptoms of dependence and even withdrawal. Drug withdrawal, with any substance, can be difficult. However, with a benzodiazepine like Xanax (Alprazolam), the struggles of breaking free from this drug can be especially brutal. Xanax can create intense withdrawal symptoms that make it extremely difficult to quit.

Alcohol Withdrawal Complications: What Can Happen

Alcohol Withdrawal Complications

While alcohol can be safe in moderation, alcohol abuse is dangerous and can lead to various problems, such motor vehicle crashes, health issues, and even alcohol addiction. The development of an alcohol addiction, which medical professionals refer to as an alcohol use disorder, is more likely when a person drinks heavily.

Heavy drinking, as described by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism as women consuming more than three drinks in a day and men consuming more than four drinks on a given day, can lead a person to become dependent upon alcohol. This means that when a person stops drinking, he or she will experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.

Undergoing alcohol withdrawal is one of the symptoms of an alcohol use disorder. While withdrawal symptoms can sometimes be mild and relatively harmless, there are cases when a person can experience complications from alcohol withdrawal.

Alcohol Withdrawal Medications: Common Medications for Alcohol Withdrawal

Alcohol Withdrawal Medications

Alcohol can be safe in moderation, but too much alcohol can be harmful. When people abuse alcohol over the long-term, they may develop an alcohol addiction.

One of the symptoms of an alcohol use disorder, or addiction to alcohol, is withdrawal. This occurs when the body becomes dependent upon alcohol and cannot function properly without it. When a person develops and alcohol dependence, he or she will experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms when alcohol use is stopped or significantly reduced.

According to a report in the Industrial Psychology Journal, mild alcohol withdrawal begins about six hours after a person stops using alcohol and involves symptoms such as tremors, sweating, fast heart rate, upset stomach, headache, and anxiety. Some people may also experience hallucinations when they withdraw from alcohol. In some cases, withdrawal may progress to more severe symptoms, such as withdrawal seizures or a serious condition called delirium tremens, which causes severe confusion and may be fatal.

What to Expect When Withdrawing from Alcohol

What to Expect When Withdrawing from Alcohol

So, you’ve made the decision to stop drinking or are looking to help someone stop drinking. This is an amazing first step towards recovery from alcohol abuse or addiction. The fear that comes along with quitting alcohol is normal. People might be are scared to quit drinking because all they can think about is the alcohol withdrawal symptoms they are going to experience. Everyone experiences alcohol detox in their own way. With this being said, there are some things that you can expect when detoxing from alcohol.

Importance of Detoxing from Alcohol

The first part of treatment for an alcohol addiction is the detox stage. During this stage, the alcohol will be flushed out of the body. For most people, the symptoms of withdrawal are going to subside between 1 to 2 weeks after beginning detox. However, for some people, this can take a bit longer. This is usually dependent upon how severe your alcohol use disorder has been. After detoxing from alcohol, it is important that you consider other courses of treatment such as counseling, recovery activities, and other support options.