Unraveling the Obscurity of Post Acute Withdrawal

Post Acute Withdrawal is the leading cause of drug and alcohol relapse but is still a relatively obscure condition in the addiction treatment industry. Consequently many addicts receive inadequate treatment that inevitably results in repeated relapse episodes – some lasting for months or years at a time. Despite the easy dissemination of information that is possible in today’s instant-communications-enabled world, post acute withdrawal (PAWS) has yet to receive the public focus it deserves, and there are 4 primary reasons for this:

1.) Draconian Attitudes and Substance Abuse Concepts

Surprisingly, there are still many people – including those who work in the field of addiction and alcoholism treatment – that do not subscribe to the disease concept of addiction. Instead, these people believe that addiction is a moral issue that boils down to a lack of will power. Therefore, any conditions related to addiction are often not taken seriously by this group – especially a condition like post acute withdrawal, which could be viewed as an excuse to relapse.

2.) Revolving Doors of many Drug Rehab Centers

Some, but not all rehab centers are primarily profit-driven. In theory this is a potential conflict of interest considering that if all addicts were “cured” by treatment the first time around and education programs were effective at preventing new addicts, then for-profit rehabs would go out of business. These types of rehab centers are sometimes not concerned with the long term success of their patients; instead the goal is to get them through treatment as quickly as possible in order to open up the next bed at the facility.

Additionally, some treatment centers are so overloaded with patients that they cannot hope to provide thorough treatment. High burn-out rates exist among staff which adds to the “revolving door” effect of many rehab programs. Whether through ineffectiveness or a concentration on profits, critical components of treatment are missed in these situations, including education and ongoing treatment/resources for post acute withdrawal.


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