Withdrawal is defined by two different stages. The first stage, the acute stage, lasts up to several weeks in which the individual will experience physical withdrawal symptoms. The second, and less commonly acknowledged stage, is referred to as Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome. During this second stage the physical symptoms mostly subside and give way to a variety of more emotional and psychological withdrawal symptoms.

Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome

Symptoms that most individuals face when dealing with the post-acute stage of withdrawal are very similar for everyone, in contrast to the acute, physical stage, where symptoms greatly vary from person to person. Essentially the post-acute stage of withdrawal is the process of an individual’s brain re-establishing a chemical equilibrium without the presence of drugs.


While the symptoms of post-acute withdrawal syndrome are relatively consistent case by case, the person experiencing the symptoms has usually never experienced a state of such extreme mental variance. At the begging of this stage, symptoms will change by the minute and hour. Some of these symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Disturbed Sleep
  • Tiredness
  • Mood Swings
  • Irritability
  • Low Enthusiasm

As time goes on and individuals continue into their 5th, 6th, 7th month they notice that the symptoms have become much more stable and even predictable. Post-acute withdrawal syndrome usually lasts around 24 months, however, the symptoms become more manageable each day with the greatest hurdle presenting itself within the first several weeks.

The most important thing when dealing with post-acute withdrawal syndrome is to remain as patient as possible. At the beginning it is more common than not to feel as if the symptoms will never subside and this state of mental exhaustion will last forever; this is not true. Go with the flow, find your own pace and understand that with each day your brain is healing a little more.


It is also important to be aware that symptoms of post-acute withdrawal syndrome are a major trigger for relapse. Numbing the mind’s discomfort with, ironically, the same substance that has put an individual in this position is much easier than dealing with the symptoms head on. This is why many healthcare professionals recommend residential treatment for at least three months in which the individual can be properly cared for and kept away from any temptations that will likely end in relapse.

If you would like to know more about withdrawal symptoms or addiction treatment please call The Raymond Hader Clinic anytime on 1800 883 388 for a free consultation with an experienced treatment specialist.