Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS)

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PAWS Addiction

Going “cold turkey” may not be the best choice for addiction, especially if you have been heavily using drugs or drinking for a long time. Abruptly stopping drug use, whether it is alcohol or drugs, can cause a host of symptoms that can, in some cases, be life-threatening. This is known as PAWS addiction withdrawal syndrome.

What is PAWS?

PAWS occurs from the abrupt discontinuation of drugs or alcohol. Many of us attempt to end our addiction by going cold turkey. The withdrawal symptoms become so unpleasant that we find we cannot tolerate the sweats, body aches, and vomiting.

As the body tries to detox, the symptoms grow in intensity, leading us to a loud voice within our heads that we cannot ignore. The voice is telling us we need that drug. The psychological symptoms are just as bad as physical symptoms.

What do we do? We give in by relapsing and going back to using it again. We want to quit so badly but find that we are weaker than the power the drug(s) have over us. Various attempts to quit waiver, causing you to relapse over and over. The more we relapse, the worse our addiction grows.

You should never attempt to go cold turkey alone. We will explore why and how you can set yourself up to detox in a safe atmosphere. With PAWS addiction issues, treatment does not stop after detox.

PAWS Detox

Detoxing does not have an exact set of symptoms, rules, or guidelines because each of us is unique. Things that factor into detoxing include where we are in our addiction and whether we have other issues that can influence the process.

  • Drug(s) used
  • Dosage used
  • Tolerance to the drug(s)
  • Length of time used
  • Mental disorders
  • Medical conditions

Detoxing should be done in a treatment center where you have professionals available to help you. Being in a controlled environment allows you to detox comfortably through medications the center’s physician prescribes. These medications lessen the severity of withdrawal symptoms while decreasing drug cravings.

The symptoms that come from withdrawal, which includes an intense craving for the drugs, drive us to relapse and go back to using. When you are in a treatment center, those urges are controlled with medication and intensive therapy.

For some of us, PAWS becomes a reality in detoxing. However, aside from the physical symptoms that occur from sudden discontinuation of using drugs, the brain is still attempting to adapt. Neurotransmitters in the brain are way off-kilter because of being used to drugs dictating how the brain functions.

Once the drugs are removed from the equation, the brain is left to its own devices in trying to reset. The absence of those drugs causes the neurotransmitters to be in a perpetual state of excitability. Anxiety (opiate PAWS anxiety) and a hypersensitive state of stress sensitivity can last for years.

Post Withdrawal Syndrome: Opiates

Those of us who have an addiction to opioids may develop PAWS. Diagnosis of PAWS addiction occurs due to symptoms that meet certain criteria after withdrawing from the drugs. A noted symptom mentioned is sensory hypersensitivity, which includes mood swings, inability to sleep, and anxiety that lacks a cause.

  • 90% of opioid users experience PAWS
  • 75% of alcoholics and psychotropic drug users experience PAWS

Opioid Drugs

  • Hydrocodone
  • Oxycodone
  • Oxymorphone
  • Morphine
  • Codeine
  • Fentanyl
  • Heroin

Symptoms of PAWS Detox

The severity of symptoms differ. These symptoms can occur and completely disappear randomly.

Psychological Symptoms

  • The overall sense of anxiousness
  • Panicky
  • Feeling down or just “blah”
  • Feeling on edge with a degree of irritability
  • Sleeping too much or inability to sleep
  • Negative thinking
  • Hypersensitive to stress

Physiological Symptoms

  • Rapid heartbeat
  • High blood pressure
  • Seizure

Withdrawal Symptoms of Opioids

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Insomnia
  • Chills
  • Hot flashes
  • Sweating
  • Muscle cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Anxiety

Treatment for an Addiction/PAWS

Addictions are like flying a plane. Eventually, that plane must come down because it needs fuel to continue going. Otherwise, we keep flying that plane up there until it runs out of fuel, and the inevitable happens.

It crashes. You are that plane, and we have to get you back down safely, so you do not crash. Crashing in the world of addiction results in overdose, suicide, or death. Although we get past detoxing once we seek treatment, PAWS symptoms can sneak up on you.


  • 577,000 people sought treatment for opiate addiction


Although we get past detoxing once we seek treatment, the symptoms of PAWS can sneak up on you. That constant feeling of being on an emotional rollercoaster with the ups and downs of mood swings, feeling anxious, and always on edge may cause us to question our mental health. Treatment does not stop the moment you leave a treatment center. It is going to be a continual investment in yourself if the symptoms are present.

Here at Resurgence, you not only get the treatment you need for detoxing and cleansing the body of drugs, but you also get the therapy you need to heal the mind. Our physician and medical team’s specialized therapies and support address symptoms you are having physically, emotionally, and mentally.

PAWS will not last forever. Although it can happen to many of us getting treatment for opiate addiction, it also happens to those with other addictions. If you take that first step by calling Resurgence, we will help you with the rest of the journey to get better. No matter what addiction you struggle with, you still have power over your body, mind, and drugs.

It may not feel like you do, but you DO. You are piloting that plane we spoke of earlier, and no one can land that plane except you. You have control of the throttle that tells that plane where to go. That throttle is the phone and picking up the phone and making that call is how you will land the plane!

Upon arrival at Resurgence, you will experience a warm welcome as if you were family. From the moment you enter the door here, you are embraced with the calm and healing environment your body and mind so desperately need. Every team member you encounter becomes your “wingmen” that will be by your side during treatment.

A few therapies we use are evidence-based. Included are Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing. As a resident here, you will undergo detox and then continue to therapies as a partial-hospitalization resident. You will graduate to outpatient status while still attending therapy visits as scheduled.

If you need to schedule your visits around your work, family schedule, or school, let us know. We have an Intensive Outpatient Therapy program that is perfect for such situations.

We offer residents options in accommodations and treatment programs.

  • Accommodations
    • Standard
    • Executive
    • Luxury
  • Specialized Treatment Programs
    • Faith-based
    • Holistic

Payment and Insurance

We will gladly contact your insurance company to verify coverage. When it comes time to make a payment, you can do so through our secure online payment service. We accept most PPO insurances. If you do not see your insurance in our listing below, give us a call. Payment options include private pay and payment plans.

  • Assurant Health
  • Vista Insurance Partners
  • Humana
  • Ameritas Group
  • Health Net
  • Cigna
  • Horizon Blue Cross
  • Premera Blue Cross
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield

Now you must make that choice to call and get help. You have a team of people that will help you “land your plane safely” to gain your freedom from PAWS addiction. So what are you waiting for? Call us today.