Does Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome Happen to Everyone?

In This Article

Post-acute withdrawal syndrome is a cluster of impairments that can last for a duration of several weeks to several months after quitting drug use. post-acute withdrawal syndrome is also known as prolonged withdrawal syndrome, protracted withdrawal syndrome, or post-withdrawal syndrome. post-acute withdrawal syndrome includes symptoms that resemble those found in anxiety disorders and mood disorders. Symptoms of post-acute withdrawal syndrome typically include insomnia, increased level of anxiety, and mood swings. A post-acute withdrawal syndrome typically emerges after the withdrawal from benzodiazepines, alcohol, and opioids. Post-acute withdrawal syndrome has also been seen after the withdrawal from other psychoactive drugs.

Research indicates that an estimated 90 percent of opioid users in recovery experience post-acute withdrawal syndrome, while 75 percent of individuals recovering from alcohol abuse experience post acute withdrawal syndrome. The exact cause and mechanism of post-acute withdrawal syndrome are still being researched, but it is hypothesized that the physical changes to the brain that occur due to substance abuse are the possible cause of post acute withdrawal syndrome.

Symptoms and Signs of Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome

Symptoms of post-acute withdrawal syndrome waver in severity and may disappear then reemerge after time. The most commonly seen symptoms of post acute withdrawal syndrome include:

  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Panic
  • Depression
  • Issues performing cognitive tasks, problem-solving, memory recall, or learning

Other symptoms that may occur with post-acute withdrawal syndrome include:

  • Insomnia
  • Cravings
  • Obsessive-compulsive behavior
  • Issues maintaining social relationships
  • Pessimism
  • Apathy
  • Difficulty dealing with stress

The symptoms of post acute withdrawal syndrome typically become more severe during stressful periods but may emerge without any clear triggers.

Risk Factors and Causes of Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome

It is hypothesized that post-acute withdrawal syndrome is caused due to the physical changes that occur in the brain due to prolonged substance use and abuse. When drugs are abused for a long period of time, the brain begins to adapt in order to accommodate the level of neurotransmitters present. The changes in levels of neurotransmitters when drug use ceases may then cause excitability. In turn, the brain’s ability to deal with stress is diminished with extended drug use and abuse as well as withdrawal periods.

Infants who are born to mothers who have a history of repeated substance abuse are at risk for post acute withdrawal syndrome. post-acute withdrawal syndrome is able to emerge after withdrawal from most substances that can be abused. Individuals who abuse benzodiazepines have the highest risk of developing post acute withdrawal syndrome. There are cases in which individuals who previously abused benzodiazepines developed post-acute withdrawal syndrome and continued to experience symptoms for several years after withdrawal and cessation of use.

Treatments for Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome

Treatment for post-acute withdrawal syndrome is typically administered over a long period of time, due to the fact that symptoms of post acute withdrawal syndrome may last for several months to several years. Medical professionals may decide to treat individual symptoms with prescription drugs. A drug that is typically used to treat alcoholism, acamprosate, has been shown to be effective in managing post-acute withdrawal syndrome symptoms. Individuals who are being treated for post-acute withdrawal syndrome typically attend psychotherapy in the form of group therapy, behavioral therapy, or individual counseling. It is extremely important to consider treating the psychological symptoms related to post-acute withdrawal syndrome.

Often the psychological symptoms that occur due to post-acute withdrawal syndrome lead individuals to return to using substances. Psychotherapy allows individuals to learn effective coping skills that often lead to successful and long term recovery and sobriety. Post-acute withdrawal syndrome is often difficult to treat and experience. Individuals are often bombarded with post-acute withdrawal syndrome after finishing detox and treatment. The symptoms of post acute withdrawal syndrome are often unpredictable and can fluctuate without warning. This may lead to individuals experiencing stress and uncertainty.

With a combination of therapy and prescription drugs, individuals with post-acute withdrawal syndrome may be able to manage their symptoms while maintaining sobriety and have a productive life. If you would like more information related to post-acute withdrawal syndrome, please contact us today at 888-380-0342. We look forward to speaking with you!

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