PAWS refers to any symptoms that persist after acute withdrawal has resolved. It can feel like a “rollercoaster” of symptoms, which come and go unexpectedly. Each episode of PAWS can last for a few days, and these can continue cyclically for a year. These symptoms can occur with any intoxicating substance, although post-acute withdrawal syndrome most often occurs among people discontinuing the following drugs:
- Alcohol: Though people have struggled to end alcohol addiction for much longer, the symptoms of PAWS were first defined for alcohol use disorder in the 1990s. Suddenly stopping alcohol consumption is dangerous, since it can cause delirium tremens (including seizures and psychosis) and can also increase the likelihood of PAWS (e.g., long-term cravings, exhaustion, and feeling ill).