Thoughts on PAWS / Life from an old member

Postby lmcbride » Mon Aug 31, 2020 9:37 pm

Hey guys, not sure if anyone would remember some of my old posts from back in 2016 during my pretty rough battle with PAWS.

I had given up cannabis after 10 years of pretty heavy use which was not fun! Here's one of my older threads for more on that - viewtopic.php?t=95921

Anyway, since that quit back in 2016 ,I have to admit that I have started using cannabis again, albeit much less frequently and in much smaller quantities (I guess that's what being married with kids will do to you :lol: )

I'm actually about a month into another quit, and my experience this time has been drastically less intense than my quit in 2016, which has led to me to have new feelings about PAWS and why some people have a horrible time vs. those who don't, sometimes with no correlation to how heavy or how long the habit.

I'm now starting to think that PAWS is a direct result of how far you distanced yourself from your true emotions and feelings during those months/years/decades of being a smoker, getting stoned and blocking or forgetting about everything that makes you feel sad, anxious, etc.

I can say for sure that when I quit back in 2016, the anxiety, stress, depersonalization, and derealization that I endured afterwards was something I never had to deal with before as I would just toke up and have no worries. Then all of the sudden I had to process those feelings and face them head on, and it took me damn near 6 months to finally be able to really do that somewhat effectively without freaking out.

Now that I'm over a month in to this quit, I can look back and see how bad I was doing back in 2016 at this stage, versus where I'm at now. Now I know what stress and anxiety is, and how to deal with it, whereas before I had no idea what that really felt like and would just get stuck in this endless loop of thinking something is wrong with me and my life is ruined like so many of us do.

Anyway, just some food for thought :)

Sending positive vibes to all dealing with PAWS. As someone who went through the hell of PAWS for months on end, I can tell you that there is light at the end of the tunnel, and it is all worth it in the end!
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#1

Postby imondayXX » Tue Sep 01, 2020 9:38 am

Thanks for your post. I'm really curious to see how you feel at the 3 month point and see if you still feel the same.

I recently quit for 9.5 months and felt free from PAWS at the 8.5 month point, then smoked for a month and had to start the process all over again, I'm nearing the 8.5 month point again and feeling the PAWS lifting. The symptoms were less this time around, but the timeline was the same. I definitely have faced more emotions and things you mentioned this time around so it's an interesting theory.

Look forward to your updates after 90 days. Thanks for your post. :)
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#2

Postby lmcbride » Tue Sep 01, 2020 4:39 pm

Hi Monday,

Congrats on another 8.5 month again, that is awesome.

Glad to hear you have faced your emotions this time around. I think that understanding how to recognize and deal with them is the most important step in freeing yourself from PAWS.

When I say I’m doing so much better this time around when compared to my first quit, I’m not saying I’m totally symptom free or perfect by any means.

I definitely had a 2 day stretch of rough anxiety last week which came out of the blue. In my first quit I had no idea what anxiety was, and thought that I was losing my mind which puts you in an endless negative feedback loop. Knowing what I know now, I was able to recognize that it’s just anxiety and to not look so far into it, just let it go and it will pass.

I’m wondering if you still had some healing to do when you started up again for that month. During my initial quit, I think I went about 2 years before picking up the herb again.

My ultimate goal is to just keep the smoking to weekends only. It will require a ton of mental fortitude but I think I can do it. For now, I need to clear out my system to get a better life insurance rate :) crazy that they classify weed smokers the same as tobacco users....

Keep up the good fight everyone!
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#3

Postby imondayXX » Tue Sep 01, 2020 5:02 pm

Oh I envy you but think why do that to yourself if you've come this far. I can't go back. I definitely had some healing to do. I'm just out of the woods again so we'll see what the future has to bring. Keep in touch, all the best.
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#4

Postby lmcbride » Tue Sep 01, 2020 5:33 pm

Haha that is a good question....why do it to myself again? I’m really not sure. Maybe I am just confident in my newfound ability to process and handle stress, emotion, and anxiety.

Or maybe I just love to torture myself. :D

Who knows!

Wishing you the best in the future.
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#5

Postby tokeless » Tue Sep 01, 2020 7:23 pm

Knowing what I know now, I was able to recognize that it’s just anxiety and to not look so far into it, just let it go and it will pass.

This...
The battlefield is your mind.
Well done btw
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#6

Postby imondayXX » Tue Sep 01, 2020 9:05 pm

Tokeless you think PAWS is just anxiety? The crazy waves of fatigue is caused by anxiety?
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#7

Postby lmcbride » Tue Sep 01, 2020 9:57 pm

imondayXX wrote:Tokeless you think PAWS is just anxiety? The crazy waves of fatigue is caused by anxiety?


I don’t think PAWS is JUST anxiety, but for me, a lot of physical and mental anguish can stem from simple anxiety.
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#8

Postby tokeless » Wed Sep 02, 2020 6:15 am

imondayXX wrote:Tokeless you think PAWS is just anxiety? The crazy waves of fatigue is caused by anxiety?


I think PAWS is what you make it. Yes, there are some withdrawal effects when you stop doing something with chemicals for a long period, as with nicotine from smoking. Yes, some effects are worse than others, but in my smoking career which was long, I have never known anyone who stopped, has complained of the symptoms I read on here. They had cravings, irritability and some sleep disturbance with vivid dreams for a week or two, then nothing. Some said they'd kill for a spliff because of memory recall and melancholy but nothing more than that. Hence, PAWS is what you make it in my experience. I've had my arguments over the years, I've been accused of all sorts on here by those who disagree. I'm not really arsed. My experience is just as valid as anyone else's and I'm just putting it out there.
I have never counted the days, barring the first week or two. I accepted my symptoms for what comes from stopping. I lived as a non smoker and just moved on.. feel free to disagree but I wish you all well.
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#9

Postby Brudenski » Thu Sep 03, 2020 7:10 am

Well done for stopping.
I want to emphasize that some people have serious physical symptoms that can last for years. I am one of them.
For the ones that only lasted for a week or few consider yourself lucky.
But for the ones that lasted longer like myself consider yourself luckier because:
Did they hold me back to be a non smoker, well no.
Did they hold me back to achieve in those 2 years more that what i achieved in 2 decades of toking, well no.
Did you find any post of me renting about what i feel, well no.
Because when i was wounded i refused this label and did choose instead wisdom.
Yeah when you're wounded you can transform it to wisdom.
Even though the struggle is real and longer for some just consider yourself luckier because it's an opportunity to built your inner self on some solid foundation.
Well done for everyone who choose sobriety and just keep walking and let go.
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#10

Postby SparkleFly12 » Fri Sep 04, 2020 3:16 pm

@Imcbride - thank you for posting! I am very interested in your experience; as I do hope to smoke one day again as you have. I have no trouble controlling myself. But; I will give up smoking for good if It triggers PAWS again.

Im curious how often you smoked this time around; you said your PAWS was waaay less intense than before; but how much did you smoke that gave you paws still?

@Imcbride and @imondayxx - Ive been on the PAWS train for about 2 years now. But a big part of it is because I smoked again; and my symptoms came back. I quit a heavy habit sept 2018; after a month I was feeling slightly better and smoked a few days; BOOM back to square 1. Quit for 3 months; felt a little better; smoked for about a week; BOOM back to square 1. Quit for another 3.5 months; smoked for less than a week; BOOM back to square 1.

Each of these times, I knew I still had healing left. And I was smoking concentrates, which I now beleive make things infinitely worse than herb (I only had mild paws before when I smoked herb). Each time I started again, I could still feel many paws symptoms; although they had improved. So from Feb 2019 I stopped smoking; and was planning on waiting till my symptoms were gone. This took over a year; in June this year I finally started to have some days where I was symptom free; but it wasnt every day so I wasnt completely healed. I smoked again; only 1 night (I was super stressed from work) - it did wonders for the stress, but it set my PAWS symptoms back about 3-4 months. I only took 2 tokes. And it set me back 3-4 months. So here I am today, symptoms feel similar to how they were last May.

Im wondering - if we give time for our brains to completely heal - and we used weed very occasionally - would it trigger PAWS? Or are our brains so damaged from weed overuse that we will always get PAWS when we smoke anything? I know that I have more healing to do - I am planning on waiting until I have no symptoms for many months before I even think about smoking again; but Im scared to even try at this point for fear that PAWS will return. 2 tokes causing a 4 month setback is just...very extreme.

@tokeless I too have many, many stoner friends; none of whom suffer from anything like PAWS when they quit. Most dont even get acute withdrawal. I certainly thought there were no withdrawal symptoms from weed (and didnt even know what PAWS was) before i quit; and it took me a quitting a few times before I even accepted that I had any withdrawals at all. But PAWS it is real even if it only affects a small percentage of people. You know those drug commercials (if you live in the US) and they list all the side effects that are "rare" or "very rare" at the end? that is paws; for weed users.
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#11

Postby tokeless » Fri Sep 04, 2020 4:01 pm

I would suggest avoiding concentrates at all costs. Smoking 80%plus THC is asking for problems just as drinking 80% proof alcohol would be worse than a good beer... it seems like every BOOM you had was using concentrates. That should tell you something. Now weed has become commercially available, it wouldn't surprise me to find it's been modified to create dependencies? Would you now accept weed can cause some to have withdrawal rather than weed causes PAWS? Similar to schizophrenia in some but not all..
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#12

Postby lmcbride » Fri Sep 04, 2020 8:12 pm

My first quit I had been strictly smoking concentrates for a year or 2 and I definitely think they make PAWS symptoms worse once I stopped. On this quit, I had only been vaping bud occasionally, not every day, and not a ton. I did buy a cartridge or 2 of concentrate during this stretch of a year or so but I feel like that is a lot more moderate than dabbing.

Your question on how if we let our brains heal completely before smoking again kind of goes back to my over all theory on the severity of PAWS being more of a reflection of how disconnected from yourself and your mind and your feelings you still are. I guess you could call that healing, I think of it more as learning and gaining an understanding of how your mind works. For some people that can take years, other months.

You could look at it as your brain still healing and that's why you're getting PAWS symptoms, but to me, I think it's more along the lines of you are still learning how to process and negotiate with these new emotions and stressors that are smacking you right in the face now that you don't have weed to deflect it.

I think that I was able to quit with minimal PAWS symptoms this time around for 2 reasons. Primarily, in my first PAWS battle, I learned a ton about dealing with anxiety and stress and emotion. It took me at least 8 months to get to a point where I became comfortable with that. Second, my rate of consumption has been much more moderate during this span, so I don't think I strayed too far mentally from my normal self.

Wishing you well!
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#13

Postby SparkleFly12 » Sat Sep 05, 2020 4:21 pm

@Imcbride There is definitely a learning curve to handle the PAWS symptoms better; especially anxiety and depression. In fact, I found that just knowing "this is temporary, it will get better in time, its just PAWS" was enough to get me through lots of the anxiety and depression. I may not have felt great, but from an outside perspective it was hard to tell anything was wrong.

But, in my case most of the symptoms are physical - headache, sore muscles, swollen lymph nodes, lack of interest in sex (ED). In fact, I only got depression and anxiety for the first few months; and I learned how to handle them. As far as I have seen the past 2 years, I havent found a way to make the physical symptoms any better through mental toughness or learning.

In my experience, acute withdrawal and PAWS intensity are directly tied to how much time you spent high per day/week; and how intense the high was. When I quit smoking herb back a few years ago; I got PAWS but it was very mild; mild enough for me to not even think it was caused by weed (I attributed it to other life stresses). I was high a lot before then; 6-12 hours a day but only herb. Then I switched to concentrate pens (and herb); and my next quit is when symptoms went off the deep end. The headache was the worst part; but all those physical symptoms were not overcome-able by mental toughness; in my case at least.

I am waiting for my brain to completely heal before even considering to smoke again. That will probably be at least 6 more months for me. I know smoking occasionally helps a lot with stress for me, but I am worried that these symptoms will come back; even from an occasional smoke. The fact that 2 hits of weed set me back 4 months is...scary to say the least.

@tokeless yeah I will never be using concentrates again. But I did hope that the two tokes of herb I took wouldnt set me back as far as they did. That makes me think I may never be able to smoke again without symptoms coming back. If so, then thats fine. And I agree, concentrates are more addictive than herb; Id say the body forms more of a chemical dependency with concentrates, so quitting hurts more and is harder. That can be seen as more addictive, sure.

And maybe PAWS is the wrong term for what Im going through - Ive read no medical sites about PAWS that describe my symptoms as I feel them. But it is the closest term I can find; and all medical research on PAWS is related to alcohol or other drugs, not weed. Acute withdrawal is definitely a thing with weed in some people; but there are certainly long term protracted symptoms as well for us unlucky few.

Anyways, thanks for the conversation and for listening Imcbride and tokeless. Hope you guys/gals are doing well. Im finally starting to be able to get a full nights sleep and am almost where I was in June before those two fateful tokes I took. Cheers.
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#14

Postby lmcbride » Sun Sep 06, 2020 5:14 am

I do hear you on the physical symptoms. In my first quit I had super bad pains and aches down my back and my sides for months.

If I recall correctly, the first month or 2 my head felt pretty jacked up too. Tons of pressure and seeings spots and circles and all that. It was awful.

I do think daily usage of concentrates played a big part in those symptoms.

I’ll stick to the occasional j or vaping bud if/when that day comes.
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