Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS) and in Weed Withdrawal

Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS) and in Weed Withdrawal

When individuals decide to quit using weed, they may experience a variety of withdrawal symptoms. One of the potential challenges they may face is Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS). PAWS is a condition characterized by persistent withdrawal symptoms that can last for months after stopping drug use. In this article, we’ll go over the effects of post acute withdrawal syndrome and weed withdrawal. We will discuss the symptoms, causes, duration, and strategies to cope with PAWS during the journey to recovery.

Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS)

Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS) is a phenomenon that occurs during the second stage of the withdrawal process. While acute withdrawal symptoms primarily involve physical discomfort, PAWS is characterized by psychological and emotional symptoms. The severity and duration of PAWS can vary depending on the individual and the extent of weed use.

Immediate Withdrawal (First Week):

Initial symptoms typically emerge within the first 24 to 72 hours after stopping weed use.

Immediate symptoms may include irritability, anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, decreased appetite, and mood swings.

Physical discomfort such as headaches, sweating, and digestive issues might also occur.

Early Withdrawal (First Few Weeks):

Symptoms may intensify during the first week and gradually subside over the next few weeks.

Psychological symptoms like cravings, depression, and difficulty concentrating may persist.

Sleep disturbances, such as vivid dreams or nightmares, might continue.

Acute Withdrawal (First Month):

The acute phase of withdrawal typically lasts up to a month for most individuals.

Physical symptoms may start to diminish, but psychological symptoms can persist.

Cravings may remain strong, and mood swings may continue, though with decreasing intensity.

Post-Acute Withdrawal (Months to Years):

Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS) can extend beyond the acute phase, lasting for months or even years.

Symptoms during this phase are typically less severe but can be persistent and fluctuate in intensity.

Common PAWS symptoms include mood swings, anxiety, depression, sleep disturbances, and cognitive difficulties.

The duration and severity of PAWS vary widely among individuals, influenced by factors such as the duration and intensity of prior weed use, overall health, and individual differences in brain chemistry.

Long-Term Recovery (Beyond PAWS):

With time, most individuals experience a gradual improvement in symptoms and overall well-being.

Strategies such as therapy, support groups, healthy lifestyle changes, and developing coping mechanisms can aid in long-term recovery.

While some individuals may continue to experience occasional cravings or mood fluctuations, many achieve a state of sustained abstinence and improved quality of life.

It's important to remember that withdrawal experiences can differ significantly among individuals, and not everyone will experience every symptom listed. Additionally, seeking support from healthcare professionals or addiction specialists can provide personalized guidance and assistance throughout the withdrawal and recovery process.

Symptoms of Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome during Weed Withdrawal

The symptoms of post acute withdrawal syndrome during weed withdrawal can be diverse and may include…

Insomnia or sleep disturbances: Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, disrupted sleep patterns, or waking up frequently during the night.

Irritability: Easily provoked or annoyed behavior, heightened sensitivity to frustration or annoyance.

Anxiety or panic attacks: Feelings of nervousness, worry, or fear that can range from mild to severe, potentially leading to panic attacks characterized by sudden intense fear or discomfort.

Depression: Persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or loss of interest in activities once enjoyed, often accompanied by changes in appetite or sleep patterns.

Impaired concentration: Difficulty focusing, sustaining attention, or completing tasks, cognitive fog or confusion.

Lack of motivation: Decreased drive or enthusiasm for engaging in activities, feeling apathetic or indifferent.

Mood swings: Rapid and intense changes in mood, shifting between periods of euphoria and irritability or sadness.

Fatigue: Persistent tiredness or lack of energy that interferes with daily functioning.

Increased sensitivity to stress: Heightened reactivity to stressful situations, feeling overwhelmed or unable to cope with stressors.

Cravings for weed: Strong desires or urges to use marijuana, often triggered by withdrawal symptoms or environmental cues associated with drug use.

Vivid dreams related to drug use: Intensely realistic or vivid dreams involving past drug use experiences, possibly reflecting subconscious cravings or processing of withdrawal effects.

Causes of Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome during Cannabis Withdrawal

PAWS occurs as the brain readjusts after prolonged weed use. Chronic marijuana use can disrupt the brain's natural chemical balance, and when the drug is discontinued, the brain needs time to restore equilibrium. PAWS is a result of this readjustment process and the brain's attempt to correct chemical imbalances.

Duration of PAWS during Weed Withdrawal

The duration of Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS) and weed withdrawal can be quite variable among individuals. While some individuals may find themselves experiencing PAWS for a relatively short period, lasting just a few months, others might endure its effects for a more prolonged duration, extending up to two years or even longer. Throughout this phase, the intensity and frequency of symptoms commonly associated with PAWS, such as mood swings, sleep disturbances, and cognitive difficulties, typically tend to decrease gradually as the brain undergoes a process of adaptation and healing.

Nevertheless, it's essential to emphasize the uniqueness of each individual's journey towards recovery. Factors such as genetic predispositions, overall health, duration and intensity of prior cannabis use, as well as the presence of any co-occurring mental health conditions, can significantly influence the trajectory and duration of PAWS for each person. Thus, while general patterns may exist, it's crucial to recognize and respect the diversity of experiences encountered by individuals undergoing weed withdrawal and subsequent recovery.

Coping with PAWS during Weed Withdrawal

Coping with PAWS during weed withdrawal can be challenging, but there are strategies that can help individuals manage their symptoms and reduce the risk of relapse.

Support System

Building a strong support system is crucial during this time. Surrounding oneself with understanding and empathetic individuals, such as friends, family, or support groups, can provide much-needed encouragement and assistance in navigating the challenges of PAWS.

Healthy Lifestyle Choices

Engaging in activities that promote overall well-being can be beneficial. Regular exercise, a balanced diet, and sufficient sleep can contribute to improved mood and reduce the severity of PAWS symptoms.

Therapy and Counseling

Seeking professional help through therapy or counseling can be highly effective in managing PAWS symptoms. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and other evidence-based approaches can help individuals develop coping mechanisms, address underlying issues, and build resilience during the recovery process.

Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques

Practicing mindfulness and relaxation techniques, such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, or yoga, can help individuals alleviate stress and reduce anxiety associated with PAWS.

Avoid High-Risk Situations

Avoiding triggers and high-risk situations is crucial during weed withdrawal and PAWS. This may involve avoiding environments where weed is present, distancing oneself from individuals who continue to use, and finding alternative activities that promote sobriety.

Patience and Self-Compassion

Recovering from weed addiction and managing PAWS requires patience and self-compassion. It's important to acknowledge that healing takes time and setbacks may occur along the way. Being kind to oneself and celebrating small victories can provide the necessary motivation to continue the journey to recovery.

Seeking Professional Help for PAWS during Weed Withdrawal

If the symptoms of PAWS during weed withdrawal become overwhelming or interfere with daily life, it is important to seek professional help. Addiction specialists, therapists, and healthcare providers can offer guidance, support, and appropriate treatment options tailored to each individual's needs.


Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS) and cannabis withdrawal can both be intertwined during recovery. Understanding the symptoms, causes, duration, and coping strategies for PAWS is essential for individuals who are on the path to recovery. By building a strong support system, making healthy lifestyle choices, seeking therapy, practicing mindfulness, and avoiding high-risk situations, individuals can effectively manage PAWS and achieve long-term sobriety. Remember, recovery is a unique journey, and with patience, self-compassion, and professional help, individuals can overcome the challenges of PAWS and embrace a healthier, drug-free life.


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