Oct. 10, 2020 – Getting through those months was tough. I came up with every excuse I could think of to go back to drinking. I considered throwing in the towel and resigning myself to a life as a drunk.
The one thing that kept me going was hearing that tons of other recovering alcoholics had experienced the same thing. Although there’s still a dearth of academic research on the topic, Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS) is a common experience among people in their first two years of sobriety.
PAWS is characterized by feelings of depression, a lack of mental clarity, and feelings of exhaustion. As the name suggests, it sets in after the immediate, acute symptoms of withdrawal have passed. Unfortunately, it can last for up to two years.
The one good thing about PAWS is that it does eventually end. My first year sober was an awful year, but I am forever grateful that I stuck with it. Although it felt like quitting drinking hadn’t helped me at all, I actually just hadn’t given it enough time.
During my second year sober, I stopped feeling as depressed and even became optimistic about my future. I started to notice some of the positive changes that sobriety had made in my life: losing weight and saving money, for example. I also realized that I finally had the free time and clarity of mind needed to start pursuing even more meaningful changes.