Recovery Advocate

Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS)

Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS)

Physiological dependence on benzodiazepines is accompanied by a withdrawal syndrome which is typically characterized by sleep disturbance, irritability, increased tension and anxiety, panic attacks, hand tremor, sweating, difficulty in concentration, dry wretching and nausea, some weight loss, palpitations, headache, muscular pain and stiffness and a host of perceptual changes. Instances are also reported within the high-dosage category of more serious developments such as seizures and psychotic reactions. Withdrawal from normal dosage benzodiazepine treatment can result in a number of symptomatic patterns. The most common is a short-lived “rebound” anxiety and insomnia, coming on within 1-4 days of discontinuation, depending on the half-life of the particular drug. The second pattern is the full-blown withdrawal syndrome; finally, a third pattern may represent the return of anxiety symptoms which then persist until some form of treatment is instituted. Withdrawal phenomena appear to be more severe following withdrawal from high doses or short-acting benzodiazepines.

Post-acute-withdrawal syndrome (PAWS), or the terms post-withdrawal syndrome, protracted withdrawal syndrome, prolonged withdrawal syndromes describe a set of persistent impairments that occur after withdrawal from alcohol, opiates, benzodiazepines, antidepressants and other substances. Drug abuse, including alcohol and prescription drugs, can induce symptomatically which resembles mental illness. A protracted withdrawal syndrome can also occur with symptoms persisting for months and years after cessation of use. Benzodiazepines are the most notable drug for inducing prolonged withdrawal effects with symptoms sometimes persisting for years after cessation of use. Severe anxiety and depression are commonly induced by sustained alcohol abuse which in most cases abates with prolonged abstinence. In most cases these drug-induced psychiatric disorders fade away with prolonged abstinence.

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