Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome

Withdrawal | Hopelinks

Post Acute Withdrawal is an adjustment the brain has to make while in the process of returning to life without chemicals. It is the time period when neurotransmitters start acting again.

During periods of addiction to drugs, alcohol and/or other substances of abuse there is artificial stimulation and disruption to normal brain function. During the adjustment period difficulty in thinking clearly, expressing emotions, memory, coordination, sleep disturbances and stress are all common.

What is Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome?

In this section symptoms are identified, and a protion of the process which may be required during addiction treatment are outlined. The process of dealing with post acute withdrawal syndrome differs from person to person, making it critical to enlist professional help.

The guidelines presented to aid in overcoming frustrations and bring back a normal balance to the brain and life in general are similar to those adhered to by addiction treatment centers. The most common symptoms of Post Acute Withdrawal when overcoming addiction are: Unclear thinking, difficult emotions, difficult physical coordination, sleep disturbances and stress.

Clients will often be asked questions or given questions to ask themselves, which may include:

  • How often does the person have difficulty concentrating and how long does it last?
  • Are feelings exaggerated for specific situations?
  • Is the person exhibiting signs of depression and finding difficulty in being motivated?
  • Does the person have difficulty remembering things?
  • Is the person clumsy, dizzy and off balance?
  • Is there difficulty sleep, or is sleep often interrupted?
  • Does stress regarding “life in general” occur most of the day?

Help for Overcoming Alcohol & Drug Addiction

Listing Strengths and Weaknesses in the Above Areas May also be Required

  • Strength: Plays basketball for fun.
  • Weakness: Runs into objects or appear off balance at times.

Setting a Plan for Overcoming Areas of Weakness, is Usually Encouraged

When thinking is unclear breaking tasks into portions may be recommended.

(Example: Read a part of a book, or directions at a time, take a break and return at a later time.)

  • Journaling feelings to remain calm when issues are discussed may be recommended.
  • If a period of depression becomes apparent, watching a funny video or taking time to “play” may be encouraged.
  • Walking a dog or taking a child to a park to assist in re-engaging in life could be suggested.

Other Suggestions May Include:

  • Making a lists, including “daily priorities” or “shopping lists” to remove frustration.
  • Staring uncompleted tasks on the following day.
  • Being cautious of “stimulative substances” (caffeine, sugars, etc.) prior to sleep.
  • Reading a book which might assist in relaxation prior to sleep.

Taking more frequent “breaks” during the day and even “resting” in a car while repeating positive affirmations, may be encouraged on occasion.

Further Recommendations May Allow For:

  • Keeping expectations reasonable, to avoid “over-stressing”.
  • Sobriety, followed by support group attendance similar to AA, other sober activities, and/or church group attendance.
  • Eat three regular meals a day with “snacking” between.
  • Vitamins to help regain lost nutrition.
  • Meditation and/or other similar relaxation techniques.

Symptoms of Post Acute Withdrawal May Contain:

  • Lack of Confidence
  • Denial
  • (Examples of “denial” thoughts: “It wasn’t really that bad”, or, “I can handle it now”.)
  • Lack of commitment to a support system.
  • Trying to change others before they are ready.
  • Defensiveness
  • Compulsive Behavior
  • (Becoming compulsive or out of balance in other areas of life.)
  • Impulsive Behavior
  • (Acting before thinking, or sudden outbursts.)
  • Daydreaming
  • Depression
  • Easily Angered
  • Irregular Sleep
  • A “Don’t Care,” Attitude
  • Feeling Hopeless
  • Self pity
  • Conscious Lying
  • Loneliness
  • Controlled Drinking (Attempting to limit or control use.)
  • Loss of Control (Returning to the original state of consumption (relapse).)

Success in overcoming post acute withdrawal syndrome usually requires planning ahead. Some plans include identifying high risk situations and writing a descriptions of to handle them prior to occurance. (These are usually recommended for any areas where the inclination to relapse may be present.)

Example: A family wedding where alcohol is to be served is coming up, you will be tempted to celebrate.

Plan: Bring a sober friend and your own soft drinks so you will not be made a spectacle or feel left out.

Name three high risk situations to you and set a brief plan.

If relapse does occur admitting and taking steps to prevent further issues is usually recommended.

Change often begins within post acute withdrawal syndrome watch for internal changes, which may carry:

  • Increased Stress
  • “Why bother?” Emotions & Thoughts
  • Change in Feelings
  • Mood Swings
  • Change in Behavior
  • Putting on a Facade
  • (Look good on the outside but feel terrible inside.)

Ideas which may be suggested for triumphing over post acute withdrawal syndrome:

  • Look for Balanced Living
  • Limiting Work to 40 Hours Per Week
  • Maintaining Family Relationships
  • Continuing a Spiritual Connection
  • Education or New Learning
  • (Mental Stimulation)
  • Personal Time

Plans for calmness, sobriety and relapse prevention may include:

  • Saying the serenity prayer.
  • God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.
  • Courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
  • Call a Counselor
  • Call Sober Friends
  • Jogging Around the Block
  • Eating Regularly
  • Prayer

“Stinking Thinking” in Post Acute Withdrawal

  • I don’t listen at AA and pass when it is my turn.
  • I get exhausted.
  • I don’t like eating regularly.
  • I have high expectations.
  • I think the dangers of drugs are overreacted too.
  • I get tired of this Higher Power stuff.

The Map to Relapse in Post Acute Withdrawal

  • Denial
  • Resentment
  • “I Don’t Care,” Attitude
  • Lack of Confidence
  • Drop Sponsor
  • Blaming Others
  • Lie on Purpose
  • Don’t Ask for Help
  • Eat & Sleep Irregularly
  • Associate with Chemically Abusing People
  • Begin to Relapse

Using Thoughts to Help Overcome Urges Might Include

  • “I can wait till tomorrow.”
  • Remembering some of the pain drugs, alcohol or substances have caused.
  • Thinking of the good attributes of sobriety.

Always ensure professional, licensed help is consutled. And, all health care professionals (physican(s), dentist, etc.) are made aware of and substance or addiction issue.

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