Is Adderall a Study Aid or Legal Meth?

How Dangerous is Adderall?

Although this might seem like an obvious question with an obvious answer, stop and think about it for a second. Is Adderall as dangerous as the media has made it out to be?

dangers of adderall

Okay, you’re right, it is! Still, there seems to be this narrative around the drug that blogs, news stations, and newspapers have constructed. Adderall is demonized as “legal meth” or “meth-lite.” While these are true to an extent, there’s much more going on than meets the eye.

This is true of most aspects of life. It’s also especially true for women in recovery! So, lets take a closer look at what Adderall is, the dangers it presents, and the benefits it offers for those struggling with ADHD.

I’d also like to share my personal story of Adderall abuse and how it affected my addiction to drugs and my eating disorder.

What is Adderall?

For most people reading this, I don’t have to tell you what Adderall is. You know! Still, I think it’s important to understand exactly what a drug is before we start condemning it.

Adderall is a prescription drug that’s commonly given to individuals struggling with ADD, ADHD, and narcolepsy.

It’s also a central nervous system stimulant. Its generic name is simply “amphetamine,” though it’s actually made up of four amphetamine salts. These are amphetamine aspartate monohydrate, amphetamine sulfate, dextroamphetamine saccharate, and dextroamphetamine sulfate.

The above is a very important point! People often call Adderall legal meth. I know I’ve been guilty of using that name before! While legal meth has a catchy ring to it, it simply isn’t true. Adderall is an amphetamine, not methamphetamine.

Adderall Abuse: My Story

I abused Adderall throughout my teenage years. I bet most of you reading this can identify! Although I was never a full-fledged “Adderall addict,” I used it to control my weight and to catch a buzz.

See, like many other women in this world, I suffered from poor body image and an eating disorder. I’d take Adderall to keep from eating and to give myself energy (remember no food = no energy).

The first time I took Adderall, or Ritalin for that matter, I was fourteen. I’d started smoking and drinking two years earlier, and had been restricting for three. I remember the feeling that stimulants gave me was amazing. All of a sudden I didn’t care what other people thought of me (of course, I really did but I FELT invincible).

Over the next five years my addiction and eating disorder got worse and worse. I didn’t use Adderall much after I discovered other drugs. Still, whenever I needed a quick boost, this was my go to drug.

After getting sober, my thoughts began to return to Adderall. I was trying my best to live a spiritual way of life, but I was scared! I was scared of my weight, of what others thought of me, and of what boys would think of me. I was scared of everything!

Thankfully, I didn’t pick up a drug. I came close a couple of times though. I’d rationalize that Adderall was harmless because I wouldn’t use it to get high. I’d be using it to lose weight. Of course, that’s just as damaging. Plus, we all know that after we take one…we don’t stop.

Dangers of Adderall

The above is the real danger, I believe, of Adderall. The drug itself is dangerous, after all it is an amphetamine. Still, the idea that Adderall somehow isn’t as dangerous as other drugs makes it even more dangerous!

Addicts and alcoholics can be lulled into a false sense of comfort by our sick thinking. We can justify and rationalize everything and taking Adderall in recovery is no exception.

That’s where we run into trouble. Thinking that a prescription drug is somehow safer than a street drug is simply wrong! This is true of prescription painkillers, Adderall, benzo’s, or any of the hundreds of other controlled medications.

Is Adderall a Relapse?

Well, is it? The short answer is of course! Remember what I said above about there being more going on than meets the eye? This is a perfect example. In some cases, some rare cases, it’s okay to take Adderall in sobriety.

is adderall a relapse

I’m talking, of course, about taking Adderall for a medical condition. Now there’s a very important caveat here. You need to take it as prescribed and only after consulting with a doctor, your sponsor, and a Higher Power.

It’s also important to check your intentions. Do you want to take Adderall for legitimate reasons, i.e. for a medical condition? Or are you trying to push the limits of your sobriety, i.e. having a freelapse?

If you’ve done all of the above, and have a doctor’s approval to take Adderall, then it’s okay. If not, then don’t take it!

What do you all think? Let us know on social media!

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Happy Birthday to the Big Book!

Happy 76th Birthday!

the big book aa

image via Wikipedia

Just a few days ago, April 10th to be exact, the Big Book celebrated its 76th birthday!

How cool is that? One of the most influential books of all time (if I do say so myself!) has been around for over seventy-five years. It’s helped millions of alcoholics recover from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body. It’s restored families, saved marriages, and offered hope to so many people.

The Big Book is my favorite book and that’s coming from someone who LOVES books. I started and finished The Bell Jar this week and it’s only Thursday! Still, no other book compares to the Big Book. Perhaps that’s because no other book has literally saved my life (although a few have impacted me pretty substantially).

Anyway, that’s just my personal opinion of the book. Guess what? It’s gotten all sorts of other accolades over its seventy-six years! A quick Google search turns up some interesting details:

    • The Big Book is one of the best selling books of all time. It’s thought to hover right around the 50th place mark. It’s sold, in total, over 30 million copies (yes, I said million!)


    • The Big Book is included in Time’s list of the 100 most influential books of all time


    • The Big Book was recognized by the United State’s Library of Congress as one of the eighty-eight “books that shaped America”


  • Early after its release, one reviewer called the Big Book “the greatest redemptive force of the twentieth century.” The New York Times said the book was unlike any other book ever published. Another reviewer “called the book extraordinary and stated that it deserved the attention of anyone worried about the problem of alcoholism.”

And that’s just what a quick search turned up! Yeah, it’s safe to say the Big Book is one-of-a-kind and has changed addiction treatment forever.

How the Big Book Changed America

That’s a bold claim, right? Saying that the Big Book changed America isn’t just a statement. It’s a declaration and it needs to be backed up with fact. Well, guess what? It did change America.

The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous changed how America views and treats alcoholism and addiction. Before that fateful day in April of 1939, alcoholism was thought of in the same way it had been for hundreds of years. That is to say, alcoholism was viewed as shameful secret, a moral problem, and a personal failure.

Around the time AA was founded in 1935, doctors all over the country were starting to measure alcoholism by scientific, rather than moral, standards. The Big Book is an example of the right thing at the right time. Its publication coincided with an increasingly medical and scientific view of the disease of alcoholism (emphasis on the word disease).

After April 10th, 1939, alcoholism and addiction as a disease began to be widely accepted. Certainly this wasn’t only because of the book, but it galvanized thousands, and eventually millions, of people to see alcoholism in a whole new light.

Equally as important as the Big Book changing the paradigm of alcoholism treatment, is how it changed that paradigm. Remember, those in the medical community were already starting to think of alcoholism as a disease, but what about normal women and men? What about the wife up the street with an alcoholic husband? What about the store clerk with an alcoholic wife? What about the worried parents with an alcoholic child?

The Big Book spoke to these people directly. It used simple, everyday language to explain complex ideas. It spoke of spirituality in a way that made even the most agnostic or atheist person say, “Well, maybe they’re right.” It tackled issues of guilt, shame, remorse, sex, lies, and so much more with grace and dignity. In short, it gave a human touch to alcoholism.

Let’s all take a moment to be thankful it did. If the Big Book wasn’t written, well, I wouldn’t be typing these words. I’m willing to bet you wouldn’t be reading them. I’m indebted to this book and, of course, to Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob. It’s with the deepest respect that I take off my metaphorical hat and say Happy Birthday!

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The Link Between Money & Eating Disorders

New Facts about Eating Disorders

According to a recent study done by researchers at the University of Southampton and the Solent NHS Trust, women experiencing financial difficulties are more likely to develop an eating disorder.

eating disorders and money

This study, led by clinical psychologist Dr. Thomas Richardson, examined college age women in the UK. The results, published in The International Journal of Eating Disorders, are a telling look into an often misunderstood area of mental health.

What the Study Found

The study itself was conducted on more than four hundred undergraduate college students from across the UK. Researchers complied information on family affluence, current money troubles, and attitudes towards food (measured using the Eating Attitudes Test).

Participants completed research surveys between one and four times at intervals of three months apart. It’s safe to say Dr. Richardson and his researchers were thorough.

Perhaps the most interesting piece of information uncovered by this new study is the “vicious cycle” aspect of financial insecurity and eating disorders. This came to light when researchers determined that not only do financial difficulties increase the chance a woman will develop an eating disorder, but extreme attitudes regarding food are indicative of future financial trouble.

In layman’s terms, this means that a lack of money can trigger an eating disorder and an eating disorder can further contribute to a lack of money. This may lead to a vicious cycle of financial insecurity, harmful eating, and further financial insecurity.

Aside from the interesting cyclical nature of eating disorders and financial troubles, researchers also discovered:

  • Alarming eating attitudes occur more frequently in women from lower income families
  • In fact, a lower median family income led to increased potentially harmful eating behavior in later surveys
  • Increased financial insecurity in initial surveys led to troubling attitudes towards food in later surveys
  • The higher an individual’s Eating Attitudes Test score was initially, the higher their level of financial insecurity in the second survey
  • All surveys indicated that financial troubles and eating disorders are linked in women, but not in men

Dr. Richardson had the following to say about his findings,

“There may be a ‘vicious cycle’ for these students, where negative attitudes towards eating increase the risk of financial difficulties in the short term, and those difficulties further exacerbate negative eating attitudes in the longer term” (Medical Express).

Recovery Options

So, what does this information mean for recovery from eating disorders? After all, it’s easy to identify a problem, but fixing it is a bit harder!

Well, this new study shows just how much power money has in our culture. If worrying over money can increase a woman’s risk of developing an eating disorder, well, then something needs to change.

So, women struggling with disordered eating should be able to receive financial assistance. While this is sometimes the case, thanks for family support or treatment centers offering scholarships, it’s not always the case. Let’s change that! Let’s petition the government, or other federal resources, to offer financial assistance for those in early-recovery!

Obviously, this can get dicey. An addict in early-sobriety doesn’t need access to large amounts of cash. With the proper oversight, though, this could be a valid option for decreasing financial trouble for women in early-recovery!

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Advice for Justin Bieber: Sober Up, Kid!

The Roast of Justin Bieber

The roast of Justin Bieber. Ah, the roast of Justin Bieber. It was funny…but not very helpful. This guy, the Bieber, actually needs help. So, I decided I would roast him from the point of view of a sponsor…that he will one day need!

Listen Up, Justin

Thank you for having me here tonight, Justin. It’s really not an honor to be here because if you’d lived your life in a different way, no one would care enough to spend two-hours making fun of you.

You drive too fast, say stupid stuff, act like people you aren’t, and think that you’re God’s gift to twelve-year olds. You act the same way Michael Jackson did. He had a monkey. So did you. Michael Jackson is dead.

The point here, little buddy, is that if you don’t change your actions, thought, and behaviors, you’ll die too!

I know from the top of the mountain everything looks pretty great. Why stop now, right? Well, see you can shut down that part a few years early and start building credibility, respect, dignity, and a life of purpose. You can start being of service and making those around you and the world a better place.

I mean you could do all that and use your immense popularity to solve problems. But why do that? It’s much easier to run around looking like six-year old doing an impersonation of an adult, wearing adult close, and making ten times an adult’s salary.

Keep it up buddy! If you wear a cool looking hat, tomorrow millions of kids will be wearing that hat. That must make you feel good. You could wear a t-shirt with a logo of the American Cancer Society on it, tweet about donating money to fighting cancer, promise to match the donations of your followers, and actually bring some good to this world. That, though, probably wouldn’t make you feel as good as a fat wallet and huge ego.

We have two choices, Beebs. We can chose to take what God has given us and help other or we can take what God has given us and help ourselves.

You chose the “I’m going to be a tiny famous mess route.” That’s cool. A lot of people went that way too. I’m talking about Judas, A-Rod, and Hitler. I guess you feel it’s better to have it all for a couple of years than to have dignity and respect forever.

Again, it’s your choice Beebs. If you’d chosen to do the right thing, we wouldn’t be here tonight. If you’d chosen to do the right thing, you probably wouldn’t be rich. If you’d chosen to do the right thing, your mom wouldn’t have money. So, I can see why you chose selfishness.

If you did choose the right path, though, you’d probably have more money in the long run, more respect and dignity, and your mother would have money and a son that people respect.

Goodnight and God Bless!

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An Unfiltered Portrait of Beauty

By: Tim Myers

Can You See REAL Beauty?

Take the lens cap off your face. Remove the rose colored tint from you eyes. Stop looking at women from the grocery store check out pedestal where you were raised and start looking at women as God intended them to be – beautiful, perfectly imperfect, flawed and pure works of art.


Next time you’re bumping into the slow walkers at the mall or rolling your eyes at the woman bagging your french fries, take a minute to pause and really, really see these women. Look at the curves, the texture, the emotion and the light.

Women are beautiful just the way they were made, without the airbrush, without the make up and without the stereotype. I know this, but Brian Cattelle proved it.

Unfiltered & Real

Once the maroon hazed lines cleared from his eyes and the fumes of booze were five years behind him in the rearview mirror, Brian Cattelle picked up his camera and began to show us how beautiful women really are.

He didn’t set out on a self-righteous quest and wasn’t fueled by injustice or a particular cause. He just wanted to see if he could make the oldest star in the sky shine a little bit brighter. In his attempt he may have just invented a whole new way to look at women. Bare. Not naked, but Bare.

He found the areas of the United States that had already been stripped of their glamor, their paint, and their plastic values. He traveled many hours, climbed thirty feet in the air on rusted and crumbling steel, through rivers, snow and garbage, and when he got where he was going…she took off her clothes.

The delicate, original skin of the women in his photographs jump off the page and into your memories. Vogue, Vanity Fair, and every other red lips, white teeth, offensive, “hey girls, lose some weight” Wal-Mart magazine will never feature women as beautiful as the ones found in Brian Cattelle’s work. You know why? They’re just too real.

A Forgotten Portrait

The forgotten structures, the dark eyes of his subjects, and the innocence of a woman thrown into the world that tries to steal her soul on a daily basis, pushes his women to the edge of the photo threatening to dissolve them forever. Brian’s photographs make these women look like the world has sent them away to be reproduced in mass quantities.

When you look carefully, though, you can see they are still there, crouched just outside the darkness, alive, vibrant, and more beautiful than ever.

Once you see her, you’ll never lose her again. Once we all see these photos, we’ll never be fooled again. Never fooled into thinking that a woman should or could look a certain way. We’ll realize that each woman is created equal. Each woman is perfectly imperfect and that’s what makes her…Perfect.

Once you see these images you’ll never forget Brian Cattelle. A man whose been chipped, scuffed up, bruised and beaten, yet found a way to rise, to shine and in the process he made the world a little bit brighter. Take a look for yourself!

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Small Time Heroin Dealers Face Long Prison Sentences

Heroin Addict or Heroin Dealer?

I just read the story of Matthew, a twenty-four year old heroin addict from Texas. Matthew, like many of today’s addicts, was brought up in a solid middle-class household. He’s from a suburb of Dallas and went to a good high school.

heroin drug laws

Matthew has also been in prison for three years for the sale and distribution of heroin. As of writing this, he’s probably a free man. The article I read was written in mid 2014, just as he was about to be released.

Matthew, I hope you’re free from actual prison and the self-imposed prison of addiction!

Matthew’s story resonated with me because his story could have easily been mine. To hear him tell it, he only sold heroin to support his own habit. How many of us addicts and alcoholics have been in a similar situation? I know I sure have!

While I never sold heroin, I did engage in illegal activities to support my addiction. I’m not proud of that fact, but it’s the simple truth. I’m pretty certain I’m not alone in my actions either. In a society that marginalizes addiction, what other option do addicts have?

While reading it, Matthew’s story raised a number of questions. Should addicts be treated the same as high profile drug dealers? Should addicts be sent to jail instead of the treatment we so desperately need?

Find Matthew’s story below. I hope it touches you all as much as it touched me!

A Quick Downward Spiral

Matthew was introduced to heroin in high school. This was the mid-2000’s and a drug called “cheese” was all the rage. Cheese, for those who may not remember, was a popular form of black tar heroin mixed with Tylenol PM.

After becoming addicted, Matthew started selling small amounts of cheese to support his habit. He’s quoted as saying, “I started selling twenties, thirties, whatever. Mainly to friends and people at my high school. Just some small-time dealing” (Huffington Post).

I can relate to that! Again, I never sold heroin, but I certainly wasn’t a saint during my addiction. I lied, stole, and sold whatever I could get my hands on, narcotic or otherwise.

As his addiction grew, Matthew began to inject heroin. He’s quoted as saying, “I went from snorting to shooting in like six months. I never thought I’d be using a needle. People started off looking for powder and before you know it, you’re going to upgrade” (Huffington Post).

Again, I can relate. I started out swallowing pills. Before long, I moved to sniffing them. Not long after, I was introduced to heroin and fell prey to the needle, as so many addicts do.

Matthew was selling cheese to maintain his personal habit. He soon sold to the wrong buyer, though. The Huffington Post reports,

“It ended when he made some sales to an undercover agent who infiltrated his circle of friends. The DEA was targeting dealers selling to high school students…He’d been using and selling for little more than two years.”

I was addicted to heroin for two years too. From seventeen to nineteen, my life was a train wreck of dishonesty, broken promises, petty crime, and disappointment. Thankfully, I didn’t end up in prison like Matthew, though it was a very real possibility.

Treatment Not Jail

At nineteen years old, I went to an inpatient treatment center. It was my second in as many years. I was spared the punishment Matthew received. I was afforded a real chance at the so-called rehabilitation that prisons claims to offer.

Imagine if all those who need treatment received it! Imagine if instead of prison, addicts were offered substance abuse treatment! What a difference that would make!

Sadly, that’s not the world we live in. It is, however, a worthy goal to work towards. Organizations like Faces & Voices of Recovery are advocating for addiction laws to be changed nationwide.

And that’s just one advocacy group! There are thousands more like them across the world, all with one common goal – to break the misunderstanding and stigma surrounding addiction and recovery.

substance abuse advocacy

What a great goal! If even a small number of these groups succeed, I believe we’ll see a real shift away from jailing addicts and towards offering affordable treatment options.

Imagine if Matthew was placed in rehab instead of jail. Then, maybe he’d be writing this essay today. Maybe he’d be offering his experience and strength to the still sick and suffering addict. We can only hope.

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More Than a TV Show: The ABC’s of a Successful Intervention

How to Have a Successful Intervention

how to stage a successful intervention

Those who need help the most, still sick and suffering addicts and alcoholics, often don’t want it. They don’t believe they have a problem. They don’t think they need help to quit drugging and drinking. They’re scared to stop.

Whatever the reason, many addicts and alcoholics are unwilling to get better on their own. This is where interventions step in and become a truly invaluable tool in effecting long-term recovery.

That’s right folks, interventions are more than just that emotionally manipulative TV show! I’m sure I’m preaching to the choir here. I know I’ve experienced firsthand what an intervention is like.

For those of you who haven’t had that pleasure, find some tips and tricks for how to organize and run a successful intervention below!

Learn about the Drug(s) Being Abused

There’s nothing that will make an addict or alcoholic tune out faster than being lectured by someone who has no idea what they’re talking about! Can I get an amen!

So, before staging an intervention for your loved one, make sure to learn about whatever drugs they’re abusing. And I mean more than a simple Google search.

Reach out to addiction treatment centers (which you should be doing anyway!) and speak to the experts. Talk to friends and family who’ve struggled with similar addictions. You can even go to an open AA or NA meeting and ask some members for information about various drugs.

Seek Professional Help

This one should be obvious. If you’re going to stage an intervention for a friend or family member, hire a professional interventionist! They exist for a reason!

Nothing’s worse than finally gathering the courage needed to confront someone in active addiction and the confrontation going south. Emotions run high in interventions. Tears will be shed and four letter words will be uttered. Be prepared!

That’s where an interventionist becomes vital. They’ll be able to smooth any outburst and get the intervention back on track. They’ll be able to organize everything efficiently and maximize the potential of your loved one accepting help.

Have a Backup Plan

What’s the plan if your loved one doesn’t accept treatment? What are the potential consequences? What are the very real risks? How can you, as a family member, friend, or spouse, best prepare for the worst-case scenario?

This is where a backup plan becomes invaluable. Figure out the consequences if your loved one refuses treatment. Figure out what proactive measures you’ll take for yourself. These can be things like seeking individual therapy, attending a support group, or even taking legal action.

It’s important to come up with a realistic backup plan, one that you can stick to should the worst happen. Let’s say you decide that if a family member doesn’t go to treatment, you’ll cut all ties. Is that realistic and doable? What about family gatherings?

These are all things to keep in mind while formulating a backup plan.

Patience, Tolerance & Love!

Finally, we come to practicing patience, tolerance, and love. This is the glue that holds interventions together. Remember, even though anger may be running high, we love our addicts and alcoholics!

This is especially important to keep in mind because addicts are masters at manipulation! During my intervention, I tried everything imaginable to change my family’s mind. Thankfully, they’d hired an interventionist who saw right through my tears and yelling!

If my parent’s hadn’t practiced patience, tolerance, and love, I don’t know if I’d be here! So stay cool before, during, and after any intervention and remember, we can all change!

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Recovery Isn’t Easy…It’s Worth It!

Recovery Isn’t Easy

On of my favorite sayings goes a little something like this – I’m not telling you it’s going to be easy, I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it.

recovery is worth it

I’m not sure who first uttered those words. Maybe it was an athlete or a coach or somebody like that. What I am sure of is that saying applies 100% to recovery.

It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about recovery from addiction, from an eating disorder, from self-harm, or from anything else. Recovery is difficult. It’s fraught with emotional valleys and tough terrain.

Of course, recovery’s also filled with the most wonderful moments I could ever imagine. In my experience, though, we remember the challenging times more than the good ones. I think that’s just how life is.

Recovery is Worth It

Even though it’s difficult at times, recovery is SO worth it! I’m preaching to the choir here, I’m sure, but let’s explore some of what makes sobriety so wonderful.

First, and most importantly, there’s the freedom! Imagine being imprisoned for so long that you forget you’re imprisoned. Imagine forgetting what the outside looks like. The sun, the breeze, the bright blue sky…you don’t remember what any of those are.

That’s what active addiction and alcoholism are like! We’re stuck in a self-imposed prison of fear, anger, resentment, self-pity, and selfishness. We’ve been stuck there so long that we’ve forgotten freedom even exists!

So, to get sober is to be free. Even during the tough times, the times when a drink or drug is screaming our name, we’re still free. We’re bathed in the sunlight of the spirit, to quote the Big Book.

Then there’s the relationships recovery gives us! Did you know I never once had a real relationship before getting sober? Well, with the exception of my parents and grandparents. I had selfish motives in mind, coconsciously or unconsciously, during every other interaction with a human being.

And then I got sober. I suddenly realized there was an entire world (really, the entire world!) of people I could help. There was an entire world of people I could talk to with nothing selfish in mind. I could do something for someone and except nothing in return!

That was an eye opener to say the least!

What other blessings did I receive as a result of recovery? Well, they’re pretty much endless! I gained acceptance. If something doesn’t go my way, well, I don’t have to like it. What I do have to do, though, is accept it.

I could never do that in active addiction and alcoholism. I could never accept anything, good or bad! Today, I can accept anything. Sometimes it takes a little kicked and screaming (remember, recovery isn’t easy!), but I’ll eventually feel the truth of it in my bones.

I gained love, which goes back to being selfless. I learned how to love someone with my entire heart. Want to know the secret? It’s as simple as putting someone else’s needs before your own. That’s love! Of course, then we have to watch out for codependency, but that’s an article for another time!

I gained emotional stability. I’m no longer a rollercoaster of up’s and down’s. I’m no longer angry, scared, happy, and sad all within ten seconds! Today, I’m able to experience an emotion without running from it. I’m able to embrace everything this world makes me feel.

Sometimes these feelings are good and sometimes they’re bad. But guess what? I’m able to sit and experience each one. What a blessing!

So remember, it’s not going to be easy, but it’s going to be so worth it!

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What is PAWS Anyway?

Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome

Ah, good old Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome! Maybe you’ve heard of it. If not by that name, I bet you’ve heard of PAWS. If you’re anything like me, that acronym left you scratching you, wondering why people were talking about animal feet!

post acute withdrawal syndrome

Most women in recovery know Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome all too well. It’s the reason we were a bit off the walls in early-sobriety. Well, okay, one of the reasons!

For those who aren’t familiar with PAWS, sit back and learn the in’s and out’s of post acute withdrawal. Being prepared and knowing how to best mitigate Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome can be a HUGE help in early-recovery.

After all, anything that gives us a proverbial leg up is welcome. I hope you all enjoy and this helps!

PAWS Symptoms


Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome symptoms can range from mild to serious. It’s important to remember two things when reading the following list. A) I’m not a doctor, but rather a recovering alcoholic with firsthand experience of PAWS. B) Everyone’s body is different. You may not get all the following symptoms (fingers crossed!).

Find a list of common Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome symptoms below:

  • Anhedonia

this is when activities which used to be pleasurable no longer are. The best way I can describe it is like a strange form of apathy. I know I should be happy to be at the beach (because, duh, I love the beach), but I’m simply not.

  • Depression

depression as a result of alcoholism or addiction makes sense. I mean, many drugs are depressants and alcohol definitely is! I’m going to make a very unscientific claim here and say that depression is the number one side effect of prolonged drug use.

  • Anxiety

again, no surprises here. Being sober after using drugs and booze to medicate is scary! So it makes sense that anxiety is a common PAWS symptom. Sometimes post acute withdrawal anxiety is low-level and constant. Other times, it comes in sharp bursts known as panic attacks. Either way, trust me when I say it gets better!

  • Trouble Concentrating

I was convinced that I had ADHD in early-sobriety. It turns out I had no such thing. Prolonged drinking and drugging impact the frontal lobe, the area of our brain that controls concentration, pretty hard. So, it makes sense that I had trouble concentrating.

The frontal lobe also controls judgment, inhibitions, our emotions, and organizational skills. Watch out for trouble in all of those areas during Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome!

  • Irritability

I was basically a huge mess in early-sobriety. While this was largely due to PAWS, it was also due to some of my character defects! One thing that straddled the fence between both was irritability. Watch out for this when you’re counting days. Trust me, it’s better to catch yourself before you say something stupid, than to make amends afterwards!

  • Mood Swings

ah, mood swings! These are probably the most recognizable aspect of PAWS. Your emotions in early-sobriety will often go a little something like this

10:00a.m. – I’m happy! OMG, life is so good!

10:01a.m. – This is so annoying, I can’t even deal right now.

10:02a.m. – No, I just need to chill. Life is really pretty amazing. I can’t believe how blessed I am!

10:03a.m. – I’m so angry! Someone stole my parking spot, don’t they know what I’m going through!

And listen, ladies, if you think I’m poking fun at you, think again. I’ve experienced the above scenario thought for thought…some are sicker than others!

  • Strange Sleep Patterns

another one of the most common symptoms of post acute withdrawal is disturbed sleep. It’s uncomfortable and, since sleep affects most other areas of our lives, has far reaching implications. It’s for this reason that many doctors recommend taking non-narcotic sleep aides in early-sobriety. Of course, that decision is ultimately up to each woman, her doctor, and a God of her own understanding.

  • Cravings

having drug cravings in early-sobriety is perfectly normal. In fact, it might be stranger if someone freshly sober didn’t have the occasional, or quite frequent, craving. Unfortunately, this doesn’t make them any easier to deal with! The good news is that the longer we stay sober, and the more work we do on ourselves, the less intense and frequent cravings become!

Beating PAWS


Now that we know the more common symptoms of post acute withdrawal, let’s figure out how to overcome it! The answer is surprisingly simple – take good care of yourself!

This can mean different things for different people, but there are some general guidelines on how to practice good self-care.


First, eat healthy! Avoid processed food, high fructose corn syrup, and taking in large amounts of refined sugar. Stick to fish, whole grains, fiber rich foods, natural sugars, and fresh vegetables. Although this sounds tough (and expensive!), it’s actually pretty easy. Once you start feeling the benefits (thinks like increased energy, a better/more stable mood, and increased concentration), you’ll want to stick with it.

Second, practice meditation! There’s nothing better to keep you in the moment than practicing staying in the moment! That may sound a bit cliché and corny, but I promise it’s true. Plus, mediation helps alleviate mood swings, irritability, anxiety, and poor concentration.

Next, get plugged in with a support group. Support groups can range from twelve-step fellowships, to “rational recovery” groups, to group therapy, to plain old friends. They’ll do wonders for your overall mental health and cravings. A support group also fosters a sense of belonging that’s vital to long-term recovery.

Finally, do some work on yourself! Although this is one of the harder suggestions to implement, it’s also one of the most beneficial. Working on ourselves is the first positive step many addicts and alcoholics take. It’s the doorway through which we walk to freedom and recovery!

Powerd by Lighthouse Recovery Institute: Leaders in Gender Specific Addiction Treatment.
You or someone you love struggling with addiction? Our addiction professionals are here to help.

The Science Behind AA

Spirituality & Science…Together?

We all know that AA and other twelve-step fellowships work. Most women in long-term recovery are living, breathing, and awesome proof of it! What we don’t know, though, is why AA works.

science behind AA

Let me clarify, we don’t know scientifically why AA works. While it’s easy to say that the twelve-steps work because of God, that answer doesn’t satisfy most scientists, researchers, or academics.

The first question you may be asking yourself is who cares what scientists think? I know I certainly asked myself that more than once! My opinion, our opinion really, doesn’t matter in this case, though. After all, think of how many suffering addicts and alcoholics would flock to AA if it were better understood!

(I know, I know, recovery is for people who want it and do it, not for people who need it. That fact aside, we can all agree that a better understand of AA, NA, CA, etc. would benefit the public at large. Remember, our lives today are about how we can best help everyone!)

Well, a substance abuse and mental health counselor named Joe Nowinski set out to understand the how and why of Alcoholics Anonymous. Find out what he found out below!

A Surprising Introduction


In the 1980’s, Joe Nowinski worked in student health at the University of Connecticut. One day, he went to a training at Hazelden, one of the country’s oldest and most respected treatment centers.

Of his introduction to AA, Joe says,

“I looked up at a large poster on the wall. It was the 12 steps. My eye was immediately caught by the word God that appeared there a number of times, and my gut reaction was something like, “Oh no! I’m a cognitive-behavioral therapist! I don’t believe in God!” (The Fix).

Sounds like someone had a little contempt prior to investigation!

After spending a week at Hazelden, Joe soon changed his mind. He was able to experience firsthand the power of twelve-step recovery. He saw the change it brought over people. He saw the benefits of honesty, open mindedness, and willingness!

Research into 12-Step Recovery


Following his auspicious introduction to Alcoholics Anonymous, Joe participated in something called Project MATCH. This was a study that looked at the outcomes, or rates of abstinence, quality of life, etc., of various therapies. It was also, to date, the largest psychotherapy outcome study ever conducted.

The results were astounding to researchers and clinicians alike. It turns out that “Twelve-Step Facilitation Treatment,” aka becoming involved in a twelve-step fellowship, kept more people sober!

William R. Miller, a therapist involved in Project MATCH, wrote,

“On at least one time-honored outcome measure—the percentage of patients maintaining complete abstinence—those in the Twelve Step Facilitation treatment fared significantly better than did patients in the other two conditions—a substantial advantage of about 10 percentage points that endured across three years” (The Fix).

I’ll stick with something that gives me a 10% better shot at staying sober!

Various other studies have examined the effectiveness of twelve-step recovery. “Twelve-Step Facilitation Treatment” was compared to something called Motivational Enhancement Therapy. The results showed that those involved with “Twelve-Step Facilitation Treatment” (really, can we just call it working the steps!!) stayed sober for longer.

Another type of therapy that includes twelve-step principles is called MAAEZ (which stands for Making AA Easier). MAAEZ has been shown to lead to higher rates of abstinence than Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, long considered the gold standard of addiction treatment.

12 steps and science

So, it’s abundantly clear that twelve-step based therapies work! It’s obvious, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that twelve-step principles work. What Joe Nowinski also found out is that all self-help groups help people.

Organizations like SMART Recovery and Women for Sobriety (not to be confused with us, Sobriety for Women!) also help boost rates of abstinence and improve quality of life.

What Joe didn’t find out was exactly why AA and other twelve-step fellowships work. While that’s unfortunate, all he had to do to get an answer, however unscientific it might be, was ask a member of twelve-step recovery!

The twelve-steps work because they take me outside of myself. They allow me, through a God of my own understanding, to become selfless, honest, and strong. They allow all of us to experience real freedom for the first time!

Powerd by Lighthouse Recovery Institute: Leaders in Gender Specific Addiction Treatment.
You or someone you love struggling with addiction? Our addiction professionals are here to help.