How are you finding sobriety? I’m guessing your reaction will be.’It’s wonderful!..(mostly)’. I’d hope you have nothing to regret from choosing a life where you are free from addiction to a poisonous substance, but because you are human, there have probably been some hiccups along the way.
After the initial euphoria, and buzz of ditching the booze and starting to love your life, some of us can ‘hit the wall’ and end up feeling blue, (especially if we don’t get connected and back on track), but interestingly even up to two years into sobriety we can suffer from PAWS…I’d never heard of it either, but it stands for Post-Acute Withdrawal Symptoms. Despite the name there’s nothing cute or puppy like about it, it feels rather as though something has come back ot bite you on the bum when you least expect it. I had assumed that after the initial ten days or so when our body detoxes the physical effects of the alcohol, that it would be plain sailing, but sadly some of us get a ‘second stage.’
PAWS can occur a few weeks after stopping the booze or anything up to two years, (ouch!) but it’s important to know that it’s temporary, and especially if you are prepared, it can be managed and it will pass!
Former drinkers can often have a lot on their plate, in addition to ditching the booze, they have come off anti-depressants or other medication, are dealing with family members who are ill, or experiencing extremely difficult family relationships. Often they are coping well, not craving alcohol, but suddenly and seemingly out of the blue they can feel as though they are on a rollercoaster. Stress can trigger it and so can flashbacks of something that happened during their ‘drinking career’ which triggers feelings of anxiety, guilt and shame.
You may experience cravings to drink again, even though you thought you’d knocked that on the head! You may have anxiety, low energy levels, irritability, mood swings, all of the crap feelings you thought you’d seen the back of!
So what can we do to support ourselves through all of this? A lot comes down to that crucial balance of brain chemistry, we need to naturally producing endorphins, and we need that balance of Serotonin, GABA and Dopamine.
Eating well really helps, you need good nutrients and superfoods, Opt for green smoothies which really pack a punch.
Practice good selfcare. You know you need good restorative sleep, exercise, get out into nature.
Arrange to have some coaching or see a health professional.
Connect with like-minded people who can support and encourage you.
Set boundaries, if certain people drain your energy, stay away from them.
Write down all your thoughts and feelings in a journal. It helps.
‘Switch off’ for a while by listening to a meditation or hypnosis audio.
Write Gratitude lists.
Be Self-Kind. Loving yourself just as you are is critical. (at least try!)
Lets not forget you have had its likely a fair number of years building up your boozy memories and associations, but when it comes to happy experiences linked to not drinking alcohol, well your are still a baby or toddler. Your brain is just starting to form those new neural pathways and its perfectly possible that it may not all be perfect along the way. Keep Going in the right direction. The path you have chosen is NON NEGOTIABLE
So, of course seek help, never suffer in silence. Rest, recouperate and get through PAWS, but do hold on to the knowledge that This too shall pass.