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Post-Acute Withdrawal in Outpatient Rehab

Avoiding Behaviors in Rehab - Bergand Group

If you’re working through outpatient rehab, then the road is far from easy.  A common stigma within our society is that “upon completion of detoxification or acute withdrawal, life will get noticeably better and ‘normal’ functioning will return.”  This makes things much more difficult for those who are working toward recovery as it puts added pressure and unrealistic expectations on their shoulders.  Struggling with detoxing is not the fault of the patient and, really, the experience can be much greater of a challenge than is commonly believed.  What many people don’t know is that there is more than one part to the process and that understanding the truth of these misconceptions can help you to feel better as you work through outpatient rehab.

A Better Understanding for a Better Recovery

As with many addiction-related issues, there are a lot of pieces of false information that are accepted as fact by patients, their friends and families, and even some professionals.  For example, there isn’t just one “withdrawal process” with its difficulties and symptoms that vanish once you’ve made it through to the other side of outpatient rehab.  Really, what most people think of as detoxification involves two major pieces: acute withdrawal and post-acute withdrawal (commonly referred to as PAW).  “Depending on the length and intensity of active addiction—that is, how frequently, how much, and for how long an individual has used mind- and mood-altering substances—this second phase can last for weeks or even months after someone has stopped using.”  Obviously, this can be much longer than a person might expect if they believe there to be only one hurdle between him or herself and recovery.

Instead, the outpatient rehab process should begin with acceptance and understanding; there will absolutely be hardships to overcome, but learning more about the steps and separating the facts from the fiction can help to ensure you know more realistically of what to expect.  Once other traces of alcohol or drug abuse have been flushed from the system, PAW will persist and incite symptoms that can make recovery that much more difficult.  There are a number of these symptoms associated with this second phase of withdrawal, such as “impairments in energy, concentration, attention span, memory, sleep, appetite, and mood—most commonly anxiety, irritability, anger, and depression.”  They usually range in type and intensity depending on the kind of addiction that you are working through and can be complicated in that they often rise and fall in intensity, perhaps bringing questions of whether they are gone for good or simply waning for the time being.

The good news is that this is all part of the recovery process.  Your body will struggle to overcome the conditions that it’s gotten used to while it heals, producing negative symptoms on the road toward the positive outcome of true detoxification.  “Post-acute withdrawal is a consequence of the significant changes to brain anatomy and chemistry take place during active addiction. The brain’s reward system is turned on its head, and its natural ability to cope with stress is undermined.”  It makes sense, but not many people are prepared for the long-term and often tumultuous effects of PAW simply because they don’t have enough information about what really happens within outpatient rehab.  The imbalance of chemicals in the brain kicks off a number of the above symptoms which are experienced differently by each patient, but all of which can impede the progress of an individual working toward recovery; “it can take four weeks to up to six months” for this inequality to right itself.

With a clearer understanding of how your body will change and respond during outpatient rehab, the rehabilitation will be that much easier.  Too often, post-acute withdrawal isn’t recognized as part of the process and is therefore not addressed, leaving many patients confused and distressed when they have to face the symptoms without any guidance.  Be as prepared as you can if you or someone you care about is having difficulty moving forward from addiction; for more information on outpatient rehab in Towson and Harford County, get in touch with The Bergand Group. The Bergand Group is Maryland’s leading addiction recovery center, and offers support for those struggling with addiction and mental health issues.

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About The Bergand Group:

At The Bergand Group in Baltimore and Harford County, Maryland, our therapists have more than twenty years of experience in the mental health and addiction fields. Our focus is on providing comprehensive mental health care and appropriate care for addictive disorders. We offer both alcohol rehabilitation and drug rehabilitation. If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol or substance addiction, there is help available. We also offer several other services, including family therapy and counseling. We can help. Contact us today.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

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