Can't find something? Search Here.

Understanding Dry Drunk Syndrome

Posted in Relapse Prevention

Recovery is a process. Some recovering alcoholics attend AA meetings for years in order to keep up their will power, share with others who are going through the recovery process, and continue striving to make their lives better. When a person puts down the bottle for the last time, they have started their journey to recovery. But just as in all journeys, the road is not always smooth.

When someone quits drinking yet exhibits unattractive characteristics that resemble their drunken self, they are said to be a dry drunk. Those with dry drunk syndrome have not fully recovered and are trapped in stages of anger, denial, bitterness, and depression. They are at great risk of relapsing into alcoholism again if they cannot find proper coping strategies to accept their “loss” of alcohol.

Going Through the Grieving Process

A person who gave up alcohol gave up something that made them feel good, relaxed, calm, and happy when their personal, financial, or work problems plagued them. When the alcohol made their life even worse, they seemed to forget the unhappy consequences and only remember the happy days of drinking. Losing the drink was like losing a friend. Although the recovering alcoholic knows that it is right of them to quit drinking, they feel that sense of loss in their lives and go through stages of grief similar to stages when a loved one dies.

It is difficult for recovering alcoholics to go through this grieving process alone. Anger, resentment, and depression can eat away at them if they cannot find ways to cope with the daily frustrations of life without reaching for a drink.

Symptoms of Dry Drunk Syndrome

Family members of a person who is experiencing dry drunk syndrome lament that the person is as irritable and disagreeable as they were when they were an alcoholic. The following are some characteristics of a person with dry drunk syndrome:

  • Pity for themselves
  • Loneliness
  • Fantasize about better days when they could drink
  • Deny they have a problem
  • Lack interest in socializing
  • Feel under stress and irritable
  • Have a short temper

Avoiding Relapse

Dry drunk syndrome is usually a temporary ailment that happens in the first stages of recovery. People can be helped with medication, therapy, and with strategies that can help them get through days without the aid of alcohol.

Recovery is an ongoing process. It is hard work and takes patience and perseverance. Taking the alcohol away from an alcoholic changes their daily routine. What had been part of their life is now missing and the recovering alcoholic must find ways to cope with the loss. Some fall into relapse when they find that returning to drinking alleviates some of the problems caused by dry drunk syndrome; however, relapse will only make it more difficult to quit once again.

Through professional help, the dry drunk can uncover problems that may have caused them to begin drinking in the first place. They can keep strong in their recovery from alcohol once they listen to and accept help from professionals and family members who can help them work through their stages of loss and move on to acceptance of a life free from the troubles of alcoholism.