PAWS – “post acute withdrawal syndrome” – is a big reason that so many addicts fail to make it to the other side. It is characterized by lethargy, depression and a lack of motivation. I’m a hardcore silver lining optimist and PAWS still got me down for the first year of recovery.
I’ve said many times on this site that it simply takes time for the brain to rewire. However, there are herbs that can help. One that helped me immensely was Mucuna Pruriens.
Known in Africa and Asia as Velvet Bean, Mucuna naturally contains L-Dopa, which is basically the building block of dopamine. Unlike taking drugs, ingesting Mucuna does not produce a high. It is more like ginseng in the sense that it is an adaptogen, restoring balance to your system.
When I went through PAWS, I could sense that my dopamine levels were not normal. I had a bad mood that I couldn’t shake for several days each week and I could not focus on work that I wanted to get done. Lifting weights would kill the bad moods but they would return within several hours of my gym sessions.
It’s not hard to understand how years of alcohol or drug abuse can deplete your neurotransmitters. Dopamine is the pleasure chemical in your brain; low levels impair your functioning enormously. Dopamine isn’t a luxury – it’s absolutely necessary for proper functioning.
In my case, a professional recommended antidepressants and benzodiazepines. I’ve refused to take any prescription drugs since I kicked booze and I didn’t want to give up too soon.
Because I had success treating bouts of anxiety with herbs like passionflower and chamomile, I did some independent research and decided to try out the Keter Wellness brand of Mucuna.
I was sitting on my bed, laptop on my lap desk, when I took the first capsule. Within ten minutes I felt more relaxed and the words I wanted to write seemed to flow from my fingertips. The dark cloud of PAWS seemed to have been lifted. That night I slept like a hibernating bear and woke up in the morning feeling more refreshed than usual.
Since that night, I’ve taken Mucuna on average once per month. As with passionflower, there have been periods that I’ve taken it up to three days in a row. I have a habit of cycling supplements that have any noticeable effect on my system. I don’t want to build up a tolerance for anything, including natural herbs.
I’ve read articles about Mucuna’s potential for abuse. This seems to be a hypothetical concern and it does not reflect my experience at all. On the contrary, this herb has helped people recovering from even the most destructive addictions.
As PAWS became less of an issue over time, I took less Mucuna. It’s been about 2 months since I’ve taken it as of today. I keep a bottle of capsules in my drawer in case I go through a period of low motivation.
I see nothing wrong with keeping a supply of herbs that actually work in case you need a holistic fix and don’t want to turn to meds.
I didn’t say “in case you need a high” – a holistic fix is a guilt-free, natural substitute that balances your system so that you DON’T turn to the dangerous things that almost destroyed you in the past.
Passionflower, lemon balm, chamomile and Mucuna are the herbs I’ve had the most success with.
Herbs aren’t marketed by Big Pharma because there’s no money in it. Herbs can’t be patented. Asian and South American cultures have understood the benefits of herbs for thousands of years. We’ll never see any commercials for them, which is a tragedy because some of them work better than meds and don’t come with dangerous side effects.
I’ve considered the possibility that my brain might not have normalized as quickly without taking Mucuna. There are people who take multiple years to recover from addiction because their neurotransmitters are permanently lowered, unable to rebound from years of depletion. Don’t stress about whether you fall into this category. Work out, sleep, eat well and give Mucuna a shot!
Obviously, I can’t guarantee that you’ll have the same results I had with Mucuna. But I can direct you to the brand that I used in the hope that you have a similar experience. Keter Wellness has a great reputation and this product is cleaner and more pure than its cheaper competitors.
PAWS is a terrible affliction and I can’t say enough good things about Mucuna for fixing those low-energy, low-motivation days.
Good luck and keep enduring until you make it to the other side. You’ll see that it’s not all pain and torture once you get there.
PS – The Ketter Wellness brand of mucuna pruriens may have been discontinued. However, CalmSupport contains this awesome herb!
Sam-e and alcohol withdrawls
You can read about SAM-e here.