PAWS (a.k.a why rainbows aren’t shooting out of my ass?)

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I am so proud of my continued sobriety (35 days- Woot, woot!). I know I am doing difficult stuff right now and my brain and body are healing but I have found myself wondering several times per day, WHY DON’T I FEEL BETTER? Seriously? What the hell. Shouldn’t I be doing cartwheels and smiling like a lobotomized, 50’s housewife? Instead, sleep is still mostly allusive. I still get headaches at night. I am two seconds away from “irritable bitch mom from hell” at any given moment of the day. Plus, I am still a LUMP on the couch (just with fizzy water instead of Merlot on the table next to me). I just LACK energy. My current spirit animal is a rotund house cat.


I was listening to the latest The Bubble Hour episode on Post-Acute Withdrawal Symptoms and have discovered why I might not be feeling super great, yet. Sigh.

The Symptoms of Post-Acute Withdrawal

The most common post-acute withdrawal symptoms are:

  • Mood swings (yep)
  • Anxiety (definitely)
  • Irritability (oh, yeah)
  • Tiredness (always)
  • Variable energy (mostly low energy)
  • Low enthusiasm (eh…)
  • Variable concentration (What?)
  • Disturbed sleep (right now, in fact)

So according to the ladies on The Bubble Hour, PAWS is something that many folks in recovery deal with for 6-24 (WTF?!) months after quitting drinking. Yay. They promise it does get better… Any experience out there with anything like this?


7 thoughts on “PAWS (a.k.a why rainbows aren’t shooting out of my ass?)

    Lilly said:
    July 29, 2013 at 11:47 pm

    I keep wondering about this too. Like, how much is PAWS and healing and how much is just me and ‘was I really bad enough to be experiencing PAWS’ and blah blah. Like, for instance, I have been sleeping much better but soooooo much, too much, and waking up exhausted. Then, suddenly, this weekend I saw a shift and I seem to be needing less sleep and waking up perkier. (Or maybe it was all the exercise I got on the weekend but anyway…) I do believe it gets better and better but it may take a bit of time. I’ve read it’s more common for most PAWS stuff to subside within six months. I sure as fuck hope so cause two years sounds like a depressingly long time.

    Up days, down days over here for sure too but it’s still better than the fleeting drinky up followed by the huge booze bottoms.

      Maya June responded:
      July 30, 2013 at 1:00 pm

      Word on the booze bottoms! It is good to know there is a REASON. I was beginning to wonder if I just was going to kinda feel shitty and hung over forever. I can see how people relapse while experiencing these symptoms. God, I hope only last 6 months but given the length of my drinking “career” I wouldn’t be surprised at all if it lasts longer. Karma is a bitch.

    adria said:
    July 30, 2013 at 10:20 am

    My understanding of PAWS is that it can last up to 2 years, but usually if it does last that long the symptoms are intermittent. For the first few months, you feel really crappy. Then things start to get better, but you may wake up one day feeling like you’re in the throes of full-blown PAWS. It will last for a day or two and then it will clear up. I don’t think the 2 years means a continuous 2 years of crappy PAWS, or else nobody would stay sober because it’s awful!

    runningonsober said:
    July 30, 2013 at 3:14 pm

    A friend shared this several months ago on the stages of abstinence from alcohol, but it goes hand in hand with what you shared Maya.

    I felt physically better at 90 days.
    Halfway normal at 6 months.
    Like a sober person at 1 year.
    Comfortable in my skin at 2 years.
    I’m at 2 yrs 3 mos now and never want to go back to my drinking past.
    The alcohol really is a symptom. The hard part is usually dealing with why we chose to drink in the first place.
    It gets easier. And it’s so worth it.

      Maya June responded:
      July 30, 2013 at 3:23 pm

      I really like the idea of “mooring lines.” I will sit down and make a chart tonight. Great share! Thanks!

        runningonsober said:
        July 30, 2013 at 5:11 pm

        You’re very welcome mj!

    themiracleisaroundthecorner said:
    August 4, 2013 at 8:35 am

    I am really just repeating what everyone else has said, but… I promise you, it does get better! The fact that you are writing about it at 35 days sober has you leaps and bounds ahead of me at 35 days sober!

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