How to Survive Post-Acute Withdrawal With Mindfulness

Evidence for mindfulness being a key element in recovery is growing every day! Here’s how mindfulness can help an often overlooked aspect of recovery–PAWS.

Have patience. Your addiction wasn’t created in a day, it obviously won’t go away in one day. You can’t hurry recovery. Some days will fly by, others may seem to crawl by at an agonizingly slow pace, but if you get caught up in the desire to be anywhere else but in your own body, experiencing whatever and wherever you are NOW, you will exhaust yourself. When you are exhausted, your level of consciousness lowers and suddenly, using may look like a solution again.

Give yourself a break. It can be easy to get frustrated with where you are, easy to look back to the past or ahead to the future about where you think you should be instead, but cut yourself some slack. Every day, every moment, you’re taking care of yourself the best way you know how, so be good to yourself. Put one foot in front of the other, and rest when necessary in things you have identified as healthy breaks such as taking a hot shower or long bath, going for a walk, expressing yourself through art, music, or writing, or cranking up the speakers and dancing. Progress, not perfection!

Notice and relax into it. In emotions, what you resist becomes stronger and withdrawal symptoms are no exception to this! The more you resist, the harder it will seem. Take a deep breath, acknowledge the discomfort and remember that the dis-ease is temporary. It may not seem easy to “relax” into the discomfort, pain, and frustration of withdrawal, but it is certainly easier than fighting it or giving in to the urge to use again.

Get ready for the maybe, then forget it. You may have weeks of good days where you feel on top of the world, and then suddenly hit a wall. It’s baffling, it seemingly comes out of nowhere, and it happens to most people. Understanding that it may happen allows you to recognize when it does, so prepare yourself mentally that it may come….but don’t dwell on it or look for it around every corner! Enjoy your good days, but if you’re aware that rough times may happen, you hopefully won’t be bewildered by them when they do, and you can bounce back with more ease.

Get in touch with your bodily signals. In addiction, we often drown out the signals our body is sending out about pain, loneliness, anxiety, or anger. Without substances, these signals may seem deafeningly loud and overwhelming. Take some time to get to know your emotional self again! Practice daily moments of quiet reflection, do short body scans to become aware of any tension, stress, or pain you may be holding in, and when you experience sensations, become curious about them. What do you feel? Where is it? Can you breathe into it? Does it subside or grow bigger? Simply being curious about these emotional signals can help you no longer be afraid of them.

Remember. As paradoxical as it may seem, the symptoms of PAWS are a sign that your brain is recovering from your addiction, it’s “coming back online” to your new level of health and clarity. Accept that this is part of your journey, and move through it with your head held high—you’re moving in the right direction!

If you’re interested in learning more about our mindfulness-based approach to addiction recovery, give Centered Recovery a call today! 800.556.2955