While it may be an additional hurdle for people to navigate even if they experience PAWS, they can still find a way to maintain their sobriety. Tommy Streeter, also a community outreach coordinator for Allendale Treatment and Fort Wayne Recovery says that it took several times after he left rehab to understand that he needed to find ways to maintain his sobriety when he started experiencing the effects of PAWS. “The first 6 times I completed treatment I didn’t want to talk about it afterward, I just wanted to move on with my life and pretend it never happened,” says Streeter. “What I quickly realized was that once I started to experience the craving to use drugs again, I went back to my old habits. It wasn’t until I was able to understand that I needed to continue to work on my sobriety every day and connect with people who were or had struggled with drug and alcohol addiction – that I was able to maintain my sobriety.”
Addiction experts also recommend that people struggling with PAWS try to integrate some of the following habits into their daily lives to help maintain their sobriety:
- Establish a support network including therapy and groups like NA or AA.
- Focus on self-care through diet, regular exercise, finding new hobbies and avoiding trigger situations.
- Reach out to your sponsor when you feel the urge to use substances again.
- Start a journal to collect your thoughts and reflect on your past experiences.
- Try to distract yourself when you start to feel down on yourself with positive behaviors such as talking to a friend, listening to music, or going for a walk.
- Don’t give up. Even if you do experience a relapse, it doesn’t mean you failed. The symptoms are part of your recovery journey and proof that you’re making progress.