Meeting with a doctor

When it comes to withdrawal, there’s a certain image that exists in the popular consciousness. A person decides they’re going to get clean, and then they suffer terrible symptoms for a matter of days or weeks. Once they’ve gone through nights after night of shivering, shaking, clawing at themselves from discomfort, or even having seizures, they emerge free of addiction sans some cravings and urges. However, this isn’t quite the case as withdrawal symptoms often last beyond this initial, severe period. Even when you flush the substance from your system into the long-term, you can still experience withdrawals.

Do Withdrawal Symptoms Come and Go?

Severe, extreme withdrawal symptoms that hit a person as soon as they quit using don’t return without a return to substance use. In medical terms, this phase is known as acute withdrawal and it’s virtually universal to substance addiction. However, a much more complex and inconsistent condition is Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome, or PAWS. The exact details vary depending on the substance and the person, as some people experience PAWS less severely or not at all.

What is Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS)?

PAWS afflicts roughly 90% of all recovering opioid addicts, as do roughly 75% of alcohol addicts. In some cases, the syndrome takes the form of severely uncomfortable episodes of anxiety, stress, and intense cravings. Others take on the form of a constant background feeling that lasts for months after a person overcomes their acute withdrawals.

In this sense, PAWS describes withdrawal symptoms that come and go as well as any notable, lingering effects that continue after acute withdrawals. In different cases, the effects of PAWS can include:


If you develop PAWS from alcohol consumption, then you’re likely to experience a sense of chronic exhaustion and trouble focusing. Additionally, you’ll experience more intense cravings that will make it harder to resist relapse. However, you can reduce your risk of PAWS by weaning yourself off of alcohol rather than attempting to quit all at once.


Opioids can be extremely addictive, and they’re currently behind one of the largest waves of mass mortality in the United States. One reason that people avoid getting clean and often overdose is that opioid withdrawals are one of the most nightmarish experiences a person can undergo. Furthermore, if a person isn’t eased out from opioid addiction and attempts to stop all at once, the full intensity of opioid withdrawals can cause a variety of long-term symptoms. Intense cravings, brain fog, and difficulty concentrating can persist for months.


People sometimes abuse antipsychotic medications for various reasons, such as to amplify the effects of other drugs. Because of the way these drugs are meant to regulate people’s mental state, PAWS for antipsychotic medications can include severe mood irregularities.

Overcome Addiction with America’s Rehab Campuses

Addiction and withdrawals are some of the most painful experiences that anyone can undergo. Even if you’re not the one using, seeing a loved one fall to addiction can feel like losing them at times. If you want to get better or help a loved one find the support they need, America’s Rehab Campuses are here to help.