What Is a Dry Drunk?

dry drunk syndrome

Quitting drinking is a significant milestone, but it is only one part of the journey toward healing from an alcohol use disorder and regaining your mental, physical and spiritual health. While you can be proud of yourself for sustaining a prolonged period of sobriety, your accomplishment does not equal recovery if you are still exhibiting many of the self-destructive tendencies of active addiction.

One obstacle standing between you and your goal of remaining alcohol-free is called “dry drunk syndrome.” This phrase originates from the Alcoholics Anonymous program. It refers to someone who has quit drinking, but who is still grappling with the emotional and psychological issues at the heart of their substance use disorder. Some people’s dry drunk tendencies can signify a chronic condition called post-acute withdrawal syndrome.

Identifying Dry Drunk Behavior

Though the phrase “dry drunk” may have somewhat pejorative connotations, it’s crucial to understand that dry drunk syndrome is an acknowledged health condition. Dry drunk syndrome has some typical warning signs that can help you recognize whether you are having this problem.

  • Using maladaptive coping mechanisms to deal with challenging emotions, rather than confronting them directly
  • Feeling angry and resentful toward caring friends or family who encouraged you to quit drinking
  • Fear of making a positive, long-term change
  • Jealousy of anyone whose drinking is not problematic
  • A lack of motivation to attend one-on-one therapy or group meetings
  • Irritability or negativity surrounding the ability to maintain sobriety
  • Replacing alcohol abuse with a behavioral or process addiction, such as shopping, gambling or sex

Once you have become reliant on alcohol to get through each day and your drinking habit begins to seem like an extension of your personality, quitting drinking can result in complex feelings such as grief and loss. Without the crutch that insulated you from life’s daily realities, you might find yourself unsure where to turn or how to cope. The everyday challenges of confronting emotional hardships can become overwhelming, leading you to develop dry drunk syndrome.

How to Get Help for an Alcohol Addiction

Addiction is a chronic disease characterized by cravings and relapses. If you have repeatedly tried to quit drinking on your own, only to return to substance abuse in response to stress or adversity, it might be time to enter a professional addiction treatment program. At Rising Roads Recovery, we help women overcome substance use disorders by equipping them with the tools they need to avoid a relapse and maintain a substance-free lifestyle.

There is no shame in admitting you have a problem you can’t solve by yourself. Dry drunk behavior can be complex, especially when paired with a co-occurring disorder that makes you believe you are unworthy of achieving long-term success in recovery. However, with compassionate support and counseling strategies, it’s possible to restore your health and happiness. Contact us today to learn more about our programming and levels of care.

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