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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

PAWS: What It Is And How to Cope

If you’re a month or so into being free from drugs or alcohol and are struggling with trouble sleeping, irritability, anxiety, memory loss, and extreme cravings, you’re likely experiencing what’s known as PAWS, or post-acute withdrawal syndrome (protracted withdrawal syndrome). 

PAWS encompasses a variety of symptoms that exist after the period of acute withdrawal ceases. Some experts define it as an adjustment period during which the brain attempts to stabilize or re-organize itself without substances. Drugs linked to PAWS include alcohol, benzodiazepines, antidepressants, opioids, and stimulants.

Learning the Symptoms
PAWS symptoms can come and go and differ depending on your drug of abuse as well as the severity of damage to the brain functioning during active addiction. Below are a few symptoms common to PAWS:
  • Anxiety
  • Sleep difficulties
  • Problems with short-term memory
  • Persistent fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating and making decisions
  • Alcohol or drug cravings
  • Impaired executive control
  • Anhedonia (the inability to feel pleasure from anything beyond use of the drug)
  • Difficulty focusing on tasks
  • Dysphoria or depression
  • Irritability
  • Unexplained physical complaints
  • Reduced interest in sex Extreme drug cravings and obsessions
Coping With PAWS
A few steps can help you better manage the symptoms of PAWS. 
  • Educate yourself: Learning to recognize the symptoms of PAWS is perhaps your best defense. This will enable you to better prepare and have a plan should these symptoms strike without warning. 
  • Exercise: Staying active is a sure-fire way to help restore balance to the brain, easing a lot of the emotional turbulence of PAWS. 
  • Identify and avoid triggers: Write down the situations, people, places, events that tend to trigger or exacerbate your symptoms. 
  • Seek support: Managing PAWS is tough and there's no reason to do it alone. Talk about your symptoms with your addiction counselors, therapist, support groups, peers or loved ones. 
  • Be patient and positive: It takes time for your mind and body to heal, but remind yourself that feelings of normalcy and emotional stability will return. In the meantime, try to remain calm and relaxed and focus on the positive goals of sobriety. 
Preparing for Active Recovery
The Pines detox residence strives to stabilize your physical health, cleanse your body of toxins, and lay the groundwork for long-term sobriety success. The road ahead of you will no doubt be difficult, but supervised detox provides the support, resources, and camaraderie you need to pursue lasting recovery. To learn more, call today: 805-202-3440.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Have You Identified Your Triggers?

An important part of rehab is learning to safeguard your sobriety once treatment ends. And this means learning to understand and identify triggers. 

This step is crucial for lasting sobriety – and it’s perhaps your best defense against relapse. Triggers are a very real part of addiction and they can’t always be avoided. 

What Is a Trigger?
Think of triggers as temptations – or people, places, things, situations, memories, or feelings that make you want to use again. For instance, does seeing an old drinking buddy make you want to drink? Or, perhaps an argument with a loved one results in a craving? The acronym “H.A.L.T.” – which stand for Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired – is the term used by many addiction experts to describe some common situations that spark temptation. 

Create Your Trigger Action Plan 
As part of your relapse prevention plan, it’s essential to identify your unique personal triggers.

Start by asking yourself the following questions:
  • What were you feeling the last time you had a craving?
  • What were you doing the last time you had a craving?
  • Who were you with the last time you had a craving?
  • Were you trying to numb uncomfortable feelings or negative emotions?
  • Did you feel pressured by peers or loved ones?
  • What was your stress level?
Next, you'll need to jot down your answers and come up with a plan of how to counteract these influences in healthier ways. For example, if your triggers are stress-related, you’ll need to figure out new sober ways to ease these feelings of anxiety. And don't be afraid to ask others about what has (and hasn't) worked for them.

Don't wait until it's too late. If you feel yourself slipping, take time to slow yourself down and think about what kind of triggers you may have encountered. This is also the time to lean on your support network by calling a sponsor, counselor or loved one or attending therapy or a local support group. Together, you can prevent triggers from destroying your hard-won sobriety.  

Aftercare for Lifetime Sobriety
Aftercare plans are invaluable additions to your recovery toolbox. At The Haven at Pismo, our team of addiction specialists will help you to develop relapse strategies to help you maintain sobriety once returning home. Call today: 805-202-3440.