dry drunk syndrome

What is Dry Drunk Syndrome?

Dry drunk syndrome makes it easier to relapse and also prevents you from living your best life. Recovering from an alcohol use disorder can be a long, tiresome process. But this doesn’t mean that you will feel this way every minute. You will also be learning about yourself, healing past trauma, and discovering new ways to cope all while improving your self-esteem, confidence, and relationships. 

However, when you choose to stop drinking, there’s more to the process than giving up alcohol. One potential challenge is dry drunk syndrome, which refers to stopping alcohol use but still acting impulsively. Dry drunk syndrome makes it easier to relapse and also prevents you from living your best life. 

What Does it Mean

When you enter addiction treatment, the goal is to stop drinking. Breaking away from these destructive patterns of behavior is the first step in the process, but there is a long road that lies ahead. Some people are able to stop using alcohol but the traits and behaviors that led to the abuse still persist. 

The term “dry drunk” was originally coined by the creators of the 12-step program, Alcoholics Anonymous. People who have dry drunk syndrome are no longer drinking but they’re dealing with the same issues as when they were drinking. 

While the phrase “dry drunk” is used in the 12-step community, it’s important to realize that it’s a true psychological phenomenon that can happen to anyone. Also, some people are sensitive to this term because it can have a negative connotation, so it may be better to identify specific symptoms instead. 

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Dry Drunk Syndrome? 

Mood symptoms 

  • Irritability
  • Trouble focusing 
  • Hopelessness 
  • Negativity 
  • Boredom 
  • Low spirits 

Behavioral symptoms 

  • Impulsive behavior
  • Trouble sleeping 
  • Dishonesty
  • Daydreaming about alcohol use 
  • Skipping meetings or counseling sessions 

Does Dry Drunk Syndrome Happen to Everyone? 

No, dry drunk syndrome does not happen to everyone. Recovery is highly personal, with no two people having the same experiences. However, it does appear that some people are more at risk for being a dry drunk

For example, those who leave treatment too early or do not address the underlying reasons for the alcohol use have a higher chance of experiencing dry drunk syndrome. Those who have a co-occurring mental health disorder or lack of social support are also more likely to have symptoms of dry drunk syndrome. 

How to Cope with Dry Drunk Symptoms 

It’s important to know that dry drunk syndrome is a common and normal part of the recovery process, though it only happens to some people. If you do notice signs and symptoms, get in front of them, treat them early and set yourself up for success. 

Here are some of the best ways to cope with dry drunk syndrome: 

  • Connect with others. Talk and share with others as much as possible. You are not alone in your recovery. Lean on your support circle and the members of your 12-step group.
  • Commit to self-care. Take care of your basic needs so that you can fight urges more easily. Exercise daily, eat nutritious meals, get enough rest at night, spend time outdoors and manage your stress levels. 
  • Learn new coping methods. Having new coping methods helps you manage distressing emotions. Yoga, meditation, journaling, drawing, breathing exercises, etc. are all great ways to cope with stress. 
  • Identify your reasons for drinking. Through therapy, you can uncover the reasons why you turned to alcohol. For many people, it’s unresolved trauma or low self-esteem that brought them down this path. 
  • Give yourself grace. Recovery is a process. You’ve admitted your problem and are getting help, and that is what’s most important. Be gentle with yourself and give yourself lots of self-love. You deserve it. 
  • Follow your aftercare plan. Make sure you’re getting the help you need as you recover from alcohol addiction. Your aftercare plan will cover the different ways to support yourself such as by attending therapy and your 12-step meetings. 

Get Back to Healing and Feeling Whole at Awakenings Treatment Center

Recovery is more than just quitting alcohol. It involves healing on a deeper level and changing the patterns and behaviors that led to the abuse. To start your recovery, contact Awakenings Treatment Center. We can give the help and resolution you need to not just stop drinking but heal on a mental, physical and spiritual level.