Many drug users, whether they are abusing prescription medications or taking recreational drugs, experience symptoms of withdrawal when they try to quit using the drugs. However, some individuals who have abused certain drugs such as opioids will develop a condition known as protracted withdrawal syndrome (PWS), which can take months or even years to resolve fully. 

Protracted withdrawal syndrome is a condition that results from the long-term use of drugs such as alcohol, benzodiazepines (e.g., Xanax, Valium), and narcotics (e.g., OxyContin, Percocet). In some cases, withdrawal can happen after just one use. 

The symptoms of protracted withdrawal syndrome can be very severe and may include panic attacks, nausea or vomiting, convulsions or seizures, hallucinations, agitation or irritability, tremors or shaking in hands and feet, and insomnia/excessive sleeping patterns. These symptoms can last for weeks to months after drug cessation. 

Unfortunately, there are no specific medications available to treat this withdrawal. Treatment typically includes supportive care with medications like Valium or Benzodiazepine when needed for acute symptoms like anxiety or insomnia. 

Some people find that exercise is helpful in relieving muscle aches and cramping. If you are experiencing these side effects it is important to get professional help so you can deal with them effectively and safely. 

You should also avoid any stress triggers that might cause your symptoms to worsen. If you think you have an addiction problem, seek treatment at a qualified facility immediately so you can recover more quickly.

Why Does It Happen and What Can Be Done About It?

PWS occurs when an individual has been taking benzos and other medications for months or years and suddenly stops without tapering their dose. 

When this happens, the brain doesn’t get enough of the medication to function properly and PWS can develop. Symptoms of PWS include intense cravings for drugs, intense drug-seeking behaviors, severe anxiety and depression, seizures, sleep problems, and severe tremors. 

These symptoms can be very difficult to manage on one’s own. You may not be able to sleep or eat normally or get any enjoyment out of things that you used to enjoy. 

It’s normal to experience these feelings if you’ve gone through detox before and successfully stopped using drugs, but if it persists for more than a few weeks and becomes severe, there may be another underlying cause. 

If you or someone you know is struggling with PWS, it’s important to speak with your doctor about the medical options available to help recover from this disorder. Medical treatments typically used to treat people suffering from PWS include antidepressant medications; anti-seizure medication; mood stabilizers; and antipsychotic medications. 

However, there are also non-medical approaches that can be helpful in recovering from PWS as well such as joining a support group for people who have struggled with addiction or attending self-help groups such as Narcotics Anonymous.

Typical Symptoms of PWS

Long-term drug users can often experience symptoms of withdrawal when they stop abusing their drug of choice. 

These symptoms can include extreme cravings for the drug, irritability, insomnia, depression, and even suicidal thoughts. The severity of these symptoms depends on the person’s individual experiences with addiction and recovery. 

In many cases, people may feel okay after a few weeks without the drugs or alcohol. For others, it could take months before they feel like themselves again. 

Treatment Methods for Protracted Withdrawal Syndrome

Treatment for protracted withdrawal syndrome can vary from patient to patient depending on the severity of their symptoms. 

Some patients may find relief through medications, psychotherapy, or other types of therapy. There is no one-size-fits-all treatment protocol and every person’s experience with this disorder is different. 

If you believe that you are experiencing the symptoms of protracted withdrawal syndrome, it is important to get help as soon as possible so that your symptoms don’t worsen and become more difficult to treat. 

A qualified mental health professional will be able to provide a comprehensive assessment of the level of severity in order to recommend an appropriate course of treatment.

Protracted Withdrawal Syndrome: Conclusion

Protracted withdrawal syndrome, also called post-acute withdrawal syndrome, is a condition that affects people who have been on long-term alcohol or other drug use. 

It is characterized by serious physical and psychological symptoms that can last for months or even years after cessation of the substance. For this reason, it is important to seek help as soon as possible if you think you might be experiencing protracted withdrawal syndrome. 

If you or someone you know needs help for addiction or co-occurring disorders, please give us a call. Innovo Detox offers the latest in evidence-based medical, psychiatric, and clinical care for those in need of detox and medical stabilization in Pennsylvania and the surrounding Mid-Atlantic area. If we aren’t the best fit for you or a loved one, we will take the necessary time to work with you to find a detox, rehab, treatment center or provider that better fits your needs. Please give us a call at (717) 619-3260 or email our team at For more information on our company or services, please visit our website at