Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Post Acute Withdrawal and Vitamin B

Day 121.

Isn't that a great number? Like a swan swimming down a stream.

I digress. I'm having another attack of the PAWS. Luckily, I have this blog, and a handy post entitled Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome.

I re-read it. PAWS is often viewed as cyclical - occurring approximately monthly. And, spookily, my last 'episode' ended almost exactly a month ago.

I did beat myself up a bit about becoming obsessed - believing that everything had to be about alcohol. After all, everyone has ups and downs and attacks of the 'blues', not just recovering alkies.

But what makes PAWS different, at least in my experience, is that the general ennui is accompanied by extraordinary tiredness and a bizarre brain fug.

Despite sleeping a solid 7 hours, I wake up really tired and 'heavy' and desperate for another sleep by mid afternoon. And I constantly do things like walk into a room and forget why I'm there.

I completely forgot that #2 had a dress up day at school a couple of days ago. There are mothers at the school who run companies turning over gazillions of pounds, yet their sons turned up in homemade Viking invaders kits. I don't even have a proper job.

This isn't like me at all. Even in my days as a high-functioning-alcoholic I managed to keep all the balls in the air by way of endless lists and sticky notes all over the front door.

Here's some of the PAWS symptoms listed in my previous post: tiredness, low enthusiasm, irritability, memory lapses, anxiety and variable concentration. Tick, tick, tick to all of them.

Then I remembered fabulous Anne (ainsobriety) commenting on my last PAWS post that Vitamin B can help, and I found this article on livestrong.com.

Apparently, alcohol dependence is a major cause of B vitamin deficiency, as your liver burns through these vitamins when it metabolises alcohol. B vitamins include folic acid, riboflavin and niacin.

Eating more foods rich in these vitamins plus taking a B complex vitamin supplement can hugely aid detox and recovery, in several ways. Here's what they say:

Niacin (vitamin B-3) can make withdrawal easier, while thiamine (vitamin B-1) is used to decrease fatigue and to increase effective brain functioning and memory. Pantothenic acid (vitamin B-5) helps rid your body of alcohol and supports adrenal function....

..... B vitamins help alleviate the intensity of PAWS. For example, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine) aids in the production of melatonin and serotonin, chemicals that help in improving sleep and decreasing anxiety....

.....Due to a B-vitamin deficiency caused by alcohol dependence, your body may begin recovery with some deficits, including an inadequate iron level and neurological difficulties such as poor memory, depression and confusion. The vitamins B-6, B-1 and folic acid (vitamin B-9) are vital in your body's ability to create and maintain adequate iron levels and in avoiding neurological problems.

Funnily enough I've been craving foods recently that are rich in these B-vitamins - smoked mackerel, salmon, pistachio nuts, avocados, endamame - all foods that I used to eat only occasionally, but are now firm staples of my diet. It's amazing how - once we're sober - our bodies can tell us what they need.

I've been through this before. I know it'll only be a few days before I hit another 'up cycle'.

In the meantime, like that swan in 121, I'll keep madly paddling below the surface while seemingly gliding along it.

So start supplementing your vitamin B levels, and have a great day!

SM x


  1. Keep on trooping SM you are doing wonderful. I have noticed the same thing happening to me, at the same time every month give or take. I realise it's hormonal. This is a dangerous time so I have to be extra vigilant. Hormones could be playing a big part for you too? Look after yourself my dear. X

    1. Hi Newleaf! Might be linked to hormones, but not at the right time to be PMT. Ho hum. Hugs to you xxx

  2. Thanks for the advice, I have been losing concentration, forgetting words(!) and generally wandering around in a fog....I will try Vitamin B immediately - if i can remember how to get to the store, lol x

  3. Hope you are feeling better soon SM. It's amazing how alcohol can affect you for so long after stopping. no doubt I will experience PAWS at some stage too. Congrats on day 121. A x

  4. I was so forgetful for a while I was worried.
    In the end, I decided I had been hyper vigilant while drinking. I never wanted to miss something and draw unwanted attention to myself. See, I was fine, functioning, doing it all!!

    Once I accepted I wasn't, I stopped being so obsessive. But it took time to find a good balance.

    We are human. And vitamin B is a good addition!

  5. Hey SM, do you think PAWS could effect someone who only drank 2-3 nights a week? I can't seem to find any research on that. xxx

    1. I don't know! Jason Vale says that if you drink every 2 or 3 days you are constantly being affected by alcohol, so I guess so....

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