PAWS: Post Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome

PAWS: In contrast to acute withdrawal, symptoms of PAWS generally occur 2 months or more after drug cessation and are primarily psychological in nature, affecting a person’s mood, sleep patterns, and response to stress. The symptoms of PAWS generally last for several months in people recovering from addiction, though they can disappear in a matter of weeks or, in rare cases, persist for a year or more.

The term was created to describe the cluster of ongoing withdrawal symptoms, which are largely psychological and mood-related, that can continue after acute withdrawal symptoms have gone away. Although post-acute withdrawal rarely involves aches and pains, nausea, cramping, headaches, or other physical symptoms, it can be just as intense as acute withdrawal and still puts a person at risk of relapse, as they may return to drug use in an attempt to stop the discomfort.


It is Sunday morning and the beginning of Day 19 for me.  I am not so impressed with my 19 days of sobriety– I’ve been here before.  It is around this time that Betsy starts to get really loud.  She starts to say things like, “This is stupid.  What are you trying to prove?  You don’t have a problem, you just had two great happy weeks alcohol free!  What’s a little wine going to hurt?  You deserve this.  I know they say you can’t moderate, but that’s only for those with a problem.  Are you really going to go through the rest of your life without drinking? That’s stupid! There’s no point.”  and so on.

This has been my cycle since May, about 6 months now.  I quit, dump my alcohol, resolve to do better and start counting the days.  For a week or two weeks, I am in a good place.  I’m happy to be AF.  After 2-3 weeks, Betsy starts talking.   They say a craving lasts 20 minutes, so I wait 20 minutes– but she’s still yapping.  I go to bed and wake up happy that I didn’t drink the night before.  However, something throughout the day will trigger Betsy and she starts jabbering relentlessly.  She pipes up the most vulnerable moments, even if I don’t realize that the moments are testy.   For each consideration I silently give, her tone gets louder and more aggressive.  Eventually after a day or two of Betsy’s initial persuading, I give in and she wins.

Although I’ve heard the term PAWS before, I didn’t realize that this is more than likely why I’ve failed after 2-3 weeks.  As my brain chemistry is still returning to normal, parts of my brain are panicking and giving me signals that I need or want alcohol.  Knowledge is power.  Now I know that when I get an urge, it’s not the same as a craving.  It’s not likely to go away after 20 minutes, but likely to stick around for 58-72 hours.

When I first quit drinking in February 2017, I didn’t drink for over 90 days.  Week 1 was really hard, week 2 was easier, but I think weeks 3 and 4 were the hardest.  I was tired and irritable and questioned my sobriety multiple times a day.  I was exhausted and told my therapist that there is no point, since I wasn’t feeling exceptional like I thought I should be.  Why not drink vodka if it makes me feel so much more energetic and happy?  I think if I hadn’t had this conversation with her, I probably would have given up. She helped me see things for what they really were (although she was not an addiction therapist and didn’t mention PAWS). In retrospect I think it was PAWS rearing its ugly head.  I remember things really looking up and life being really good after week 4 four.

Why rehash?   As I’m heading into week 3, I’m realizing that this may be a difficult week to stay sober.  Even though I’ve had 19 overall good and easy AF days (I’ve not really craved very often), this could be the breaking point.

I. Don’t. Want. Another. Day 1.

I’m not going to do it.  This could be a miserable week, but I won’t give in to my inner alcoholic.  There are much bigger things than PAWS, than weeks 3 or weeks 4 or 5.   So, NO Betsy.  I DON’T DO THAT ANYMORE.



The Devil Drinks Vodka, and Eats Cupcakes: Dear Body

Dear Body,

Let me start off by saying this; you are amazing.  You keep going and going, regenerating cells during peace and slumber.  You take nutrients from the vast amount of calories ingested and wisely filter out the toxic pieces.  You have an ongoing internal war– the good bacteria vs the bad bacteria, with stomach acid so powerful it can dissolve metal.  Those nerves on every square inch to give intense warning of forthcoming damage.  And your brain.. the powerhouse of the body, for the conscious and the subconscious has amazing abilities.

Body, despite all of your amazingness, you have been my go-to punching bag.  I have mistreated and abused you for as long as I can remember.  With food, with alcohol, with cigarettes and self induced lethargy.

For what?

I’m not sure, but you took it in strides.  Liver, thank you for working overtime for the past couple of decades.  Stomach, thank you for taking in the good and expelling the bad.  Heart, Pancreas, Kidneys.. you guys did it all– kept going with years of abuse.  I want to blame brain, but know the reasons are not brain’s fault.

I don’t want to continue to abuse this beautiful and miraculous temple that was given to me by God.  It has done SO much for me, and I continued to stomp on it and berate it.

Body, I am ready to treat you like the masterpiece you are <3









The Concert

Yesterday was Day 10 and my first sober concert.

Knowing another first was approaching, I was feeling apprehension going into this weekend.  I wasn’t sure if Betsy would be able to convince me to have just one or two at the show last night.  Happy to report that any persuasion by her was quickly shut down with a fierce, “No, NOT today Betsy!”

I enjoyed the concert far more than I would have if I was drinking.  THIS is what is getting slowly embedded into my brain. Alcohol = Negative effects, Abstaining = Real life experiences, mostly positive, even if uncomfortable at first.

First of all, there was a line to get in.  Well– a line if you wanted a wristband to get drinks.  That wasn’t necessary so we cruised right on in, past the line of drinkers.

Secondly, I enjoyed being fully present during the show.  The beats were intense and I could feel the sounds riveting throughout my body.  It was almost like being in a trance, if I lost focus and let my senses take over my being.  Much better than concerts in the past where I was annihilated– acting like a fool at my best and passed out asleep at my worst– both which I’ve admittedly done before.

I wasn’t bummed out about not being a “rebel” and not drinking. Actually, I felt a little defiant drinking RedBull… but that addiction is to be addressed at a later time.  I enjoyed the red syrupy drink & the way it tasted sweet and sharpened my senses.

Lastly, the end of the evening was much better not completely wasted.  I was steady walking out and finding our car in the city.  I took my time finding the car, taking pictures of pretty landmarks along the way.  Normally, I would be in a super big hurry to get to the car, get home and continue drinking.  It is quite freeing when you don’t have something like alcohol to answer to on a nightly basis.


My Subconscious Screaming at Me

Good Saturday here, after a good Friday, not to be confused with Good Friday.

Will’s birthday was Tuesday and that was my last (and hopefully Last) Day 1.  It’s been a really great week since Tuesday, I mean, I haven’t won the lottery or anything, but I’ve felt good physically and mentally, had some motivating days at work and relaxing evenings complete with walks after dinner with hubby and dog.  I am fully enjoying being present, not having to walk around my need for alcohol and the simple but good  things in life.

Friday night was low key but nice.  I took a nap after work, got into a new show on Hulu (This is Us.. co workers have been raving about it– it is good and I’m so excited to have found a new show to binge on!  We don’t have cable so often there isn’t much to watch), made spaghetti for dinner and took a walk with hubby while the boys cleaned up dinner.  The walk was nice, except we got rained on pretty good towards the end, but that added a little excitement.   Then I drank some yummy decaf coffee while we binged on This is Us (I think hubby kind of got into it too).   We were in bed by 11, and I fell right asleep and slept well until 7.

I had an odd dream that seemed like my subconscious screaming at me.  I was somewhere, at a get together with family.   I was drinking wine and it was getting close to being time to go, so I ate to sober up so I could drive.  Before leaving, I filled my glass up with wine and took it with me.  I had the kids in the car and remember thinking how low I felt and how rotten I was to drink the wine while driving, but I didn’t care, I did it anyway.  I came up to an intersection and needed to stop because another car had the right away.  My foot couldn’t find the break though and I almost crashed.  Luckily, I avoided a collision, but instead of dumping out the wine I continued to drive and sip on it.   Yep, my conscious knows how much of a slippery slope it is when I start to drink.  This is why I need to stay away, completely, 100%.

So, this brings me to Day 4.  I’m doing something a little different this time.  I made a TheDevilDrinksVodka Facebook page and I’m posting numbered daily posts on it, with high points, low points, gratefuls and goals.  It is helping me reflect after each day and I’m excited to see the numbered days increase.  I know I am only supposed to count on today and take it one day at a time, but I really want to make it to a year.  I mean, first things first, looking at the milestones 30, 60, 90, 100 days and counting, but I really want to get to 365!  I am so eager to see how much I can learn, grow and improve myself in a year.  But yeah, for now I am just taking it ODAAT.

Time to get on with my Saturday.  Club Soda cheers to a very blissful sober weekend being fully present and not feeling lousy physically or mentally <3

Addicted to Day 1?

The promises of a new Day 1 is both electrifying and delicious.  The hope that follows is optimistic and promising.  The idea that I don’t have to feel like Sh#% anymore gives me goosebumps.  I reset my counter, examining the date.. looking for something significant, a sign that this time will be the last.

I’m beginning to think that I’m addicted to Day 1.

The last stretch of sobriety was perhaps the best I’ve ever had.  Almost 2 weeks and all but one day were great days.  Great meaning that I was happy, found joy in my everyday work and activities, exercised, slept well and had an overall sense of well being.

What happened?  Life happened.  I had a day that was a good day but the night was frustrating.  It was last Thursday and Anthony had to go help his parents with their home cameras, as they were heading south for 6 weeks the next day.  He was gone long past my bedtime, but I couldn’t sleep.  He was going to be going out with work friends the following night and I just felt so lonely.  The following night was the high school’s homecoming game and I wanted to go but none of my family would go with me.

I layed in bed for hours not being able to sleep and wanting to drink my sorrows away.  Miraculously, the urge to drink was gone when I woke up on Friday morning.  I didn’t feel so lonely either.  I vowed to relax and watch a chick flick, maybe walking up to see the game for a little bit.

Anthony really wanted me to go out with him and his work friends.  That was very nerve racking for me.  It would be mostly guys and I am very shy.  I really would have rather stayed home, but I didn’t want to disappoint him.  When he was urging me, I asked him if I could drink (meaning he would be the DD) and he said yes.

I had a good time, but probably would have had a better time if I didn’t drink.  All of his work friends are Indian and I am so curious about certain things and traditions but could hardly hold a conversation.  They were all very nice and probably think I’m a drunk, I feel ashamed.

Then next night was even more ridiculous.  I picked up a box of wine.  We went to the Astronomy in the Park event later than I had hoped.  We didn’t get home until after 11.  I was pretty crabby there, I just wanted to get home to my wine.  Talk about robbing me of the experience!  So.. it’s 11:30 on a Saturday night, my whole family is in bed and I’m filling my first (of many) glasses.

I drank Sunday and Monday night too, because it was there and why not?  I think my box is about gone now, or close to it.. so I will throw it away and start all over.

This time around was a valuable lesson.  I learned that I will get more from going out with new people if I don’t drink.  It may be uncomfortable at first, but I will make it through and will be able to have a meaningful conversation that I can remember.  I also learned that if I have wine (or anything else) at my house, the anticipation of drinking it will overshadow and ruin any and every experience I have beforehand.

Day 1, again.. today.  I feel oddly excited and hopeful.  I am eager to sleep well and wake up without this awful headache.


During my first try at sobriety I didn’t drink for over 90 days.  I didn’t know what relapse meant, and my journey was fairly shallow.

I listened to The Recovery Elevator Podcast regularly and would hear the interviewer say things to his interviewee like, “I couldn’t string more than 5 sober days together” or “I saw more day 1’s during that bout of sobriety than I can count on all digits.”  I had no idea what that meant or how that could even be possible, it made no sense to me.

Then, in the summertime, I started to go to noon AA meetings.  I heard people say things like “I’ve been sober for 10 years.  Before then, I was on & off again sober for 2 years, I came to AA but my heart wasn’t in it, I wasn’t 100% committed.”   Again, I wondered what that meant, how can you go to AA meetings and not be committed– did you go to the meetings drunk?

My journey has taken me to a place where I get it now.  I know what it’s like to not be fully committed and to have a handful of day 1’s in a month.

I don’t always understand the why.  To help look at it in a scientific fashion, I put together an alcohol and sobriety cost/benefit table.  Looking at the table, sobriety clearly is superior to drinking.

                                             Alcohol Use Cost/Benefit Analysis
Benefits of Drinking Cost of Drinking Benefits of Sobriety Cost of Sobriety
I like the fuzzy brain feeling, especially during the first drink Wake up with headache, other physical ailments, body aches, etc Sleep better Physically uncomfortable when I get urges or cravings
Not having to count days and/or think about sobriety Wake up worrying about what I said or did Wake up feeling good Social anxiety when put in certain situations
Can’t hold a conversation, even if I want to talk about something, physically unable Significantly more time for hobbies & fun activities
Money Less anxiety, generally a better feeling of well being
Increased anxiety Spend more quality time with the family
Alienation from family The ability to drive at any given moment

As I mentioned in other entries, I DO believe that one day I will be 100% AF.  I certainly don’t feel like I’m “white knuckling” it during my periods of abstinence.  I am not miserable, I am happier than ever.  It is clear though, that I’m not working my recovery– or rather my recovery is not working for me.

I will work towards my goals and keep building my toolbox.  No one said that this would be easy & I have to focus on and appreciate the journey.  I have learned & gained so much in the past 8 months and I am grateful <3

Some Days are High, Others are Low

Today, well tonight specifically has been a low night.  Sober, but sulky.

Overall it was a good day at work, a productive morning and an afternoon spent facilitating an empowering IEP meeting.

After work was pretty good as well.  The kids were at their grandma and grandpa’s when I got home, and I got a small cat nap in.  Anthony picked up dinner on the way home, it was so nice to not have to cook, plus I was all caught up on laundry.

It’s 8:48pm, I am fighting to stay awake and feeling sad and miserable.  I just feel left out, all because of this weekend’s happenings.  One of Anthony’s coworkers is leaving and he may go out with friends tomorrow night.   Little Ant’s high school’s homecoming football game is tomorrow night.  He was going to maybe have me take him, but changed his mind.  It just feels like the whole world will be hustling and bustling tomorrow and Saturday and I’ll be stuck home all alone.  On Saturday, Anthony will take William to a scouting trip all day.

What can I do to not feel so lonely?  I don’t know and I don’t have any energy to do anything.  I have a few good friends, but don’t really have the energy to reach out right now and my best friend is over an hour away.

After being unplugged from Facebook for a couple of weeks, I logged back in tonight.  I wonder if that has anything to do with my sadness.   I definitely need to stay unplugged this weekend, otherwise I will feel even more left out.

There is no point to this story– other than this is reality, sobriety is filled with highs and lows.  The reality is that as I am anticipating tomorrow night sucking, my alcoholic voice is already starting to whisper ideas into my head.  I try to ignore, but she is persistent and knows when I am most vulnerable.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.

Amen <3





Today is Tuesday and 1 week alcohol free!  Still going strong, no real desire to drink– the memory of the black shroud is still fresh in my mind.   That memory will fade and I will be tempted sometime in the future, I’m sure.  I don’t want to travel down that road again, it’s such a sad and dark path.  I will try to keep the memories of how awful and lonely it is fresh in my mind.

This week has been pure glee.


Monday was a good day at work, I met with the nicest parents on Monday morning and also had a successful phone conference with my most difficult parent.  I convinced a teacher to let an extremely anxious child forgo math homework for the time being.  The teacher looked at me as though he didn’t agree with a word that I was saying, but said, “Ok, I trust you.” which meant a lot to me.

After work I did some chores/made dinner and then took Jules for a walk in the muggy nighttime air.  It was a great walk up to the high school where the marching band was ending practice.  There was just life and lively souls everywhere.  Then we walked around Fuerst Park, which is one of most serene places around– I especially love it when it’s dark outside.

After my walk I did something crazy, I swam in the pool in the dark.  I don’t know why it kind of freaked me out before, it was SO much fun!!  Anthony swam with me, we were like kids again.  Nighttime swimming is way underestimated– I can’t wait until next summer, I’m going to swim all the time.

I took this morning off work to go to a meeting to develop a 504 plan for little Ant.  He is in high school and was just diagnosed with diabetes last year.  The meeting went well and they put in all of the accommodations that I wanted him to have.  AND it was pretty fast so I was home by 9:30 am.  I had a couple of hours to kill before I had to go to work, so I walked Jules.  It was HOT.  I jumped in the pool after getting home.  Man, it was so nice! I swam back and forth and hardly wanted to get out.  I’ve swam more in the pool this week than I did all summer!  What a great morning, I was pretty happy by the time I got to work, feeling gleeful and fulfilled.

It is 9:25 on Tuesday night and it’s been a nutty night.  I had a union meeting after work and didn’t get home until late, the boys had a scout meeting and William just got done with his homework a few minutes ago.  This is the last night of heat wave, so we’re all about to take one last dip in the pool.  We’ll have to close it in a few days, which means the end of summer is really here.

This. Is. Living. Life.   I must always remember how close that dark path is and how quickly my journey can veer down that long and lonely road.  But right now, I will fully enjoy the glee <3

Purging Causes of Anxiety, Social Media

Today is Sunday and Day 5 AF for me.  It’s been a great sober weekend.   Hubby and teenager were camping Friday night until this morning.  My other son was with his uncle all day yesterday on a trip to Greenfield Village.

Saturday was a great day filled with some really strange occurrences.  First of all, Jules had a vet appointment in the morning.  The boys took the Escape camping, so I had to squeeze him into the backseat of the Mustang. It was fine, until some crazy person passed me on the right and then slammed on his breaks, losing control and then driving off going the other way.  I had to slam on my breaks to avoid hitting him and Jules flew into the front seat.

There were some really odd conversations that day, at the vet regarding a woman who had a racist dog (who hates only white dogs) and at Sam’s Club with the checkout guy joking about having to watch to make sure the nuns didn’t sneak out with any unpaid items.

It was just a wonderful, rosey lovin’ life type day!  After taking Jules to the vet, grocery shopping and cleaning up the house a bit, I read my book while floating in the pool.  We are having a heat wave (Indian Summer) in Michigan and I actually got into the water and swam (rare for me).  William got home around 6pm.  I made dinner, then delicious loaf of banana bread, we ate and cleaned up.  Then I was bored.  While the thought of drinking crossed my mind Friday night and Saturday throughout the day, I was wise to my inner alcoholic Betsy, and was going to stand my ground.

I am so glad I did, I got some GREAT sleep Friday and Saturday night and I am confident that not drinking contributed 100% to my rosey & energetic weekend.  The most dangerous time was Saturday night when I had nothing to do.  It was ok though, I rented a chick flick and found a website that I could write an email to myself and have it sent at a future date.  I will receive it on my 50th birthday!

One thing I want to bring up in this cheery entry is the entity of social media.   For awhile now, I’ve been obsessed, addicted to Facebook.  I check it constantly.  Many things that I see on there make me feel bad in one way or another.  Whether it’s family who is having fun and not including me, or political rants, or just general whininess from people who are so negative, it was overwhelming to me.  I decided last Monday (about a week ago) to temporarily deactivate my account.  I thought I’d try to last a week, just to give myself a break.

I can’t describe how this has affected me in a positive way.  For awhile now, I’ve felt so overwhelmed by social media, the connectivity and technology in general.  I often wish that we could go back to the ’80’s, when you had to actually talk to someone face to face, call them or write a letter to communicate.  It feels like for a long time I was on a merry-go-round that was going faster and faster.  I finally feel like I jumped off the merry-go-round and that life has slowed down.  My facebook addiction is like my alcohol addiction and I have to take it one moment at a time.  I am so happy off it right now, but am not going to look far ahead.

I’m not sure if staying off social media impacted my sobriety in a positive way, but it sure has made me feel happier inside.

That’s all I have to write about today.  I am grateful for my abstinence and ready to tackle this work week bright eyed and bushy tailed.  Club soda cheers to a relaxing Sunday floating in the pool and being fully present on this beautiful Indian Summer day <3

Martini Glasses in the Sky

The long drive was boring and uneventful until we noticed all of the black smoke billowing from various buildings in the city on the other side of the river.   Then we knew, it must be multiple terrorist attacks.  As we drove by, it was apparent that society was quickly losing its cool. Deranged drivers were causing disruptions everywhere and we could see boats of all sizes nearly colliding in the river.

As time went on, we saw more destruction and it became apparent that this was the end. I looked up above the river and saw 2 martini glasses in the glowing sky.  Each cup had a green pudgy olive and one glass was empty, while the other one had liquid.  The olive that was in the empty cup said to the other olive, “I’m going to stay in here, I’m all done drinking.” The olives then realized that the world was coming to an end and that they were going to die in separate cups.  They looked at each other with such sad expressions, it was truly heart breaking.

It was a long night of sleep disruptions.  The cat wanted out sometime around 3am and was meowing loudly.  When I didn’t honor his request, he flopped down on my head.   Then I heard my son coughing and sniffling.  I waited, hoping he would fall back into a deep sleep, subsiding his cough.  I waited & waited but his cold persisted.  I got up and gave him some cold medicine.  It was around 4am by the time I got back into bed and I couldn’t sleep until around 5am.  I knew my alarm would be going off soon and tried desperately to get just a little bit of sleep.  It rudely woke me too soon, right after the olives met their demise.

I got up with enough time to get ready and out a little early to make it to an early morning work meeting.  But of course, the morning wouldn’t go smoothly.   As I was brushing my teeth, my teenager was banging on the bathroom door exclaiming loudly that dad left out a chocolate bar and that the dog ate it.  I became filled with dread thinking that I would need to give him peroxide to make him throw up and then have piles of vomit to clean up.  Luck was on my side and when I figured out how much he ate I found a toxic chocolate calculator for dogs on google and he didn’t eat enough to cause him to have a severe reaction.  Inducing vomiting was not necessary.

I was incredibly thankful to have Day 2 under my belt.  I couldn’t imagine dealing with all that nighttime and morning drama on very little sleep and hung over.  In fact, I had a pretty positive and successful day at work, despite those unavoidable obstacles that robbed me of sleep and triggered stress and anxiety.  The martini’s in my dream seem oddly significant– still working on decoding the message.

Doing well these past two days, but know that can change in a heartbeat, so I am taking it one moment at a time.  I am not drinking at the moment but a slip up is as close as the store, just 2 minutes away.