Makana Path Blog

March 26, 2021

What is a Dry Drunk?

dry drunk

You may have decided on your own to give up drinking. Although you may think you have been successful when you have not touched alcohol for several days or even months, your addictive behaviors are still disrupting your life and the lives of those around you. You have a syndrome that is known as a dry drunk, a sign that you need to seek professional treatment for your addiction to alcohol.

Term Coined by AA

The phrase and the description of dry drunk syndrome originated with Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), to refer to the traits and behaviors of alcohol use that continue into an individual’s recovery. You are actually sober but still act as though you are drunk, with the same addictive behaviors, and you are probably still dealing with the same issues that led to your drinking and addiction. Dry drunk syndrome can occur as part of a condition known as post-acute withdrawal syndrome.

Mood and Behavioral Symptoms

Symptoms associated with dry drunk syndrome can be similar to the feelings and behaviors you experience while drinking. They can also resemble alcohol withdrawal symptoms that are not managed appropriately. Being a dry drunk can affect your mood, which may change quickly or drastically. You will probably find it hard to express your emotions, which can lead to more frustration and mood changes.

Changes in your mood and emotional state can include:

  • Impatience or restlessness
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Negative or hopeless feelings
  • Irritability or anger
  • Frustration
  • Anxiety or worry, especially about your ability to stay sober
  • Resentment, toward yourself and toward others who continue to drink, particularly if they want you to quit.

You might also experience certain behaviors that can affect your mental and physical health, and could even be dangerous for yourself and others around you, including:

  • Having trouble sleeping or having nightmares
  • Being aggressive
  • Exhibiting impulsive behavior
  • Judging or blaming yourself harshly
  • Getting frustrated with trying to stay sober
  • Being dishonest to yourself and to others in your life
  • Turning to other destructive behaviors in an attempt to cope with your abstinence.

These physical and emotional symptoms, when coupled with depression or other mental health issues, could complicate the situation for you and make you feel even worse. You may be tempted to return to alcohol use, especially if you are trying to manage your sobriety on your own without having helpful coping strategies in place.

Sobriety but Not Recovery

The dry drunk syndrome is most often seen in individuals who quit using alcohol on their own, without the support of addiction treatment professionals. Although you are no longer drinking, you are still trying to deal with the issues that led to your drinking and to your addiction. You have not truly changed your attitude or the behaviors that accompanied your addiction.

In fact, a dry drunk is considered to be a set of negative habits and attitudes. It is also often a signal that you may be in danger of relapse, even if you have been sober for years. When you are sober, you are not drinking but you are not necessarily in true recovery from your addiction.

Finding the Underlying Causes of Addiction

True recovery happens when you address the underlying causes of your addiction. Simply giving up alcohol on your own can be dangerous for you, mentally and physically. You may experience severe withdrawal symptoms and you have not faced the issues that caused you to start drinking or that led to your addiction.

Some people begin drinking as an attempt to cope with traumatic events. Unfortunately, if you are in this situation and the trauma itself has not been addressed, you will still have to deal with the mental health issues it may cause, in addition to the struggles over your addiction to alcohol. Seeking professional treatment and supervised detox will help you overcome your addiction and your dry drunk syndrome, as you move forward toward a true recovery.

Find Intensive Healing at Makana Path

Healing on a deeper level is possible. At Makana Path, we work with you to help you regain control over your life by addressing the underlying causes of your addiction. Our intensive healing program gives you the gift of healing from within.

We also understand the challenges of staying at home and social distancing during COVID-19 and remain open to provide the help you need during these challenging times. To learn more about our substance abuse treatment program, contact Makana Path today by calling 1-866-313-0978.

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