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Help with PAWS. 70 days sober.

Old 05-07-2018, 05:11 PM
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Help with PAWS. 70 days sober.

Hello all,

Just a little back story to begin. I'm 39 years old and I had been drinking pretty heavy for the last 12 or 13 years. Some days I'd drink 3 or 4 beers some days I'd drink 20. Most days I'd average 10 or 12 beers. I had a Xanax prescription (.5mg a day) for about a year and was able to quit that cold turkey in November. In my younger days I dabbled in cocaine every now and then but luckily never got hooked.

Believe it or not I maintained a pretty active workout routine most of those years while I drank and my job requires me to walk quite a bit. However the last year and a half I had suffered from severe panic attacks (hence the Xanax) which was one of the deciding factors in getting sober. I've had every test you can take under the sun and apparently I'm physically fine. My last round of blood work came back great.

So I'm roughly 70 days sober and I've noticed what I can only imagine is paws. Ears ringing, anxiety, cognitive fog, out of body experiences, sometimes sheer panic bordering on an attack, tight Jaws, muscle aches, racing repetitive thoughts, and impending doom. Heart palpitations... they really ramp up my anxiety. They scare me the most. These symptoms come in waves and last days at a time.

My question is simply this... Is this all normal? Any long term drinkers have any experience with this? It's very scary. I've maintained a pretty vigorous workout routine and proper nutrition. Any advise would be awesome.

Ha also on a lighter note I dream about drinking most nights of the week and my sleep has started to even out. I still feel pretty tired most days though.

Justin
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Old 05-07-2018, 05:41 PM
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I had some of the same symptoms as you describe early in recovery. If you had good lab results, that's a good thing. Try not to worry too much. My experience with PAWS was that it comes and goes. I hope you feel better soon.

The other thing I'd suggest is that you practice gratitude every day. Gratitude will make you feel happier. It strengthened my recovery and improved my whole attitude.

https://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/22/o...pier.html?_r=0
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Old 05-07-2018, 05:50 PM
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Hi Justin, and welcome to SR,

I had a lot of the same symptoms. For me at least, they lasted a lot longer than 70 days. As you say, they tend to come in waves. For me, the waves very gradually got less severe and farther apart until they were mostly lost in the background noise of everyday life.

The good news is, if you stay the course, you WILL eventually feel better. It sounds like you're already doing most of the right things. Try to be patient. If you drank hard for 12 or 13 years, it may take a bit more than 70 days for your brain and nervous system to reset.

If the anxiety itself is a particular problem, why not look into treating it specifically? Along with the exercise and nutrition you're already addressing, there are many useful techniques for managing it.

Good luck, and glad you're here!
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Old 05-07-2018, 05:56 PM
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I had lots of that stuff a little while back and Iím currently right in the middle of what I assume is PAWS round 2 (100 days sober tomorrow). If I told you I had an anxiety attack at 5 this morning where my body felt like it was made of concrete, no word of a lie, you might think I was exaggerating, but nope: it happened. I also have headaches, a sense of impending doom and a general feeling of existential malaise; oh, I also have nausea. I had a full physical a month ago and I mostly checked out in rude health with the exception of slightly elevated cholesterol. Some say that PAWS is a result of untreated alcoholism (dry drunk syndrome, for want of a better expression), but Iím willing to bet the symptoms that a fair few of us have directly relate to the neurological sh*tstorm that happens when we stop filling ourselves full of booze. There has to be a readjustment as alcohol has a significant impact on neurotransmitters and the brain needs to re-find homeostasis.

That was a bit long-winded, so to be more concise: your symptoms donít sound of the ordinary so you can probably be reassured that things will get better eventually (and particularly if youíve checked out OK physically). Even if PAWS is not an actual thing, itís kind of a moot point: alcohol is filthy poison and, if you fill yourself full of it for long enough, damage will be done and the body canít heal itself overnight. But with time it will, so either way youíll likely start to feel better soon. Hang on in there!
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Old 05-07-2018, 05:58 PM
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Originally Posted by least View Post
I had some of the same symptoms as you describe early in recovery. If you had good lab results, that's a good thing. Try not to worry too much. My experience with PAWS was that it comes and goes. I hope you feel better soon.

The other thing I'd suggest is that you practice gratitude every day. Gratitude will make you feel happier. It strengthened my recovery and improved my whole attitude.

https://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/22/o...pier.html?_r=0
This is great advice. You have given it to me previously and it really does help.
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Old 05-07-2018, 07:31 PM
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Yup. All that and more. Rampant anxiety, heart palpitions, muscle cramps/twitches, bad sleep. And...Doooooommmmm! Impending, but since nothing bad ever happened, my mind twisted it into all the bad things that could go wrong.

It did get better. Still is. Neurobiology of withdrawal from substance abuse is no joke man!
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Old 05-07-2018, 07:39 PM
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It's very common for those of us with severe anxiety disorders to start abusing alcohol. It sounds like you need to start seeing a therapist regularly if you aren't already.
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Old 05-07-2018, 08:45 PM
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Justin,

Ime...it takes years to normalize. I am still a bit messed up.

I call it PAWS. It might be getting used to normal.

I have never been rx any anxiety pills, but I hear it is a new level of hell on earth to break free of the mixed addiction.

Suffering is my go to word. Obessing equals suffering.

I treat myself like I am a relapse away from the looney bin.

Addict for life. Treating myself like this helps keep me from forgetting the hells I have endured getting this clean.

We are lucky to have the knowledge, sr, to help us break free.

Some folks never catch on and then they just go crazy or die.

Thanks.
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Old 05-07-2018, 09:53 PM
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This article helped me a lot. But only because I used it as a basis for taking action rather than just aquiring knowledge. It's full of great suggestions of what we can DO. As someone else said, ways to treat our alcoholism. There are other suggestions for this on this forum as well on the threads about working on a recovery plan. (Ő also agree that gratitude is a great tool in recovery).

Anyway - it's worth a read.... https://digital-dharma.net/post-acut...r-immediately/

Hope you feel better soon.

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Old 05-08-2018, 03:57 AM
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Good advice here already - welcome Justin

D
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Old 05-08-2018, 07:01 PM
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Help with PAWS. 70 days sober.

Thanks guys for the advice and encouraging words. I didn't have anxiety or panic attacks until I really started hitting the booze hard. I can deal with all the other symptoms but the heart palpitations are something that really shakes me up. I used to get them when I'd really tie one on but always assumed alcohol was to blame. I'm hoping it's something that passes the more time I get behind me.
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Old 05-09-2018, 12:01 AM
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I have had issues with episodes of heart arrhythmia (palpitations) all of my adult life, before, during, and after my drinking years. They were much worse during periods of withdrawal, and for a while after I finally quit drinking for good. I remember I had an especially bad bout at around a year sober. I had them checked out several times over the years, and each time was assured that they were benign. That didn't help me much when it felt like my heart was going to bang right out of my chest, or stop beating entirely! I still have the episodes, but they have calmed down considerably over the years since I got sober.

You might ask your doctor about a beta-blocker such as Inderal (propranolol). It helped reduce the severity of my arrhythmic episodes.
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Old 05-09-2018, 12:14 AM
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I'm in the 70s too. Anxiety, tiredness, swings in appetite, BOREDOM and mood changes.
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Old 05-09-2018, 03:17 AM
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I got all this when I has spent ten weeks in hospital for alcoholism, without much in the way of treatment and then tried to go it alone out in the world. It didn’t get better, it got worse until I eventually drank to get relief. I was doing nothing recognised as a treatment for alcoholism.

Second go I was following the aa program. In the early days I quite often got the impending doom thing. I had been using a very good sponsor who helped me unravel this and the racing thoughts and anxiety. Essentially, I found they were self inflicted. I had a particular way of thinking and acting that set me up for it.

Once I realised what was going on, I was able to take steps to remove the problem. I began to behave differently and the bad feelings went away.

“When we straighten out spiritually, we straighten out physically and mentally.” It seems to go in that order.
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Old 05-16-2018, 11:19 AM
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Just an update for anyone going thru some of the same stuff. I'm still feeling anxious and out of it. Detached from the body and repetitive thoughts. Believe it or not I feel more hungover in the mornings that I used too. Having said that the heart palpitations have faded away and the ringing in my ears has subsided unless I feel a "spell" coming on.

I think things are looking up a little. Still a long way to go but there is hope. Stay strong.
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Old 05-16-2018, 02:24 PM
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Thanks for the update! I have a similar history as you (quit at 39, now 27 mo sober, and 10 or so years of abuse) and it took me quite a while to heal as I was very sick when I quit. Pretty much everything (maybe more!) that PAWS often entails.

You are right- we just have to keep going. Even with the physical (not to mention mental and emotional) ups and downs, it WILL get better the longer we are in recovery.

Keep going!
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Old 05-16-2018, 02:50 PM
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I'm glad to hear things are a little better Justin

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Old 05-16-2018, 04:45 PM
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PAWS can mess with your mind big time. I had it bad for over a year. Moody, depressed, brain fog, just waiting it out is really all you can do. Makes me realize how much I was screwing my head up!
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Old 05-18-2018, 02:09 AM
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There's actually a fair bit we can do to ease the symptoms of PAWS. Sure we can just try to wait it out but we can choose to take some action. That's why I put the link to the PAWS article on here. Because there are some very good suggestions about action we can take. They are suggestions that made a big difference to me and to others I know.

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Old 05-18-2018, 03:04 AM
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^^ Agree.

And i posted more about it on the thread with the person at 51 days - the loop of drinking -->anxiety/depression-->more drinking, on and on and on is a reality for many of us. And some of us, like me, experienced extreme PAWS, and as we got sober dealt and continue to deal with underlying physical, mental, and emotional issues- easier to face and accept and treat when we get further away from the drink.

Taking care of ourselves, taking action as most of us have mentioned, using all the tools we can (ie, drs, a program, time-fillers to deal with things like the boredom mentioned above....) to get sober and stay that way, whether at 2 days, 70 or 818 (me, today).
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