Sprinkles was rescued from Gizmo’s Gerbil Circus and needs a good home…

Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS)

Sometimes acronyms don’t paint the proper picture.  To me, PAWS sounds a little too cutesy for the real, painful syndrome it represents. It also shares its name with the Performing Animals Welfare Society, and now whenever I think of PAWS I get a mental picture of hopeful, animal adoptees: elephants wearing fedoras with daisies in their trunks; juggling monkeys; poodles on hind legs pushing small wheel barrows…


Maybe that mental picture is not too far off the mark.  PAWS describes a set of persistent impairments that occur after withdrawal from alcohol and other substances, which can last for up to two years. It results from the combination of damage to the nervous system caused by alcohol or drugs and the  stress of coping with life without them.

The most common post-acute withdrawal symptoms are:

  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Tiredness
  • Waxing and waning energy
  • Low enthusiasm
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Disturbed sleep


So, if you are in the early stages of recovery and you are feeling sleepy and jumpy and you just don’t care, but the guy in the cubical across from you keeps clicking his pen and you feel like you’d relish stabbing him in the eye with yours, and everything seems fast and loud and kind of sad, you are experiencing PAWS.  You are not alone – 75-95% of all recovering addicts experience PAWS and it is a serious challenge to recovery.


There is a lot of good information on the internet about PAWS and how to cope with the symptoms.Google “Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome”. Do not Google “PAWS” unless your want your dog groomed or you have a yen to rescue a lion that will allow you to put your head in its mouth without biting down (something that would have been GREAT entertainment at parties in my old drinking days…)


Hang in there.

Today I’m not drinking because I’m joining the Performing Animals Welfare Society…

How come you’re not drinking?