Recovering from alcohol addiction or an alcohol use disorder can be a long and challenging process. Getting sober is not just about giving up alcohol but also giving up all of the behaviors that led up to that addiction. One potential challenge of recovering from alcohol addiction is dry drunk syndrome, which is a term coined by Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) to describe the traits and behaviors of alcoholism that continue in recovery. Today we’re sharing some common dry drunk syndrome symptoms and coping methods that can make alcoholism recovery a bit smoother.
Author R.J. Solberg defined “dry drunk syndrome” in his 1970 book, The Dry Drunk Syndrome, as “the presence of actions and attitudes that characterized the alcoholic prior to recovery.” In other words, a dry drunk is someone who still struggles with the underlying factors that initially contributed to their addiction, such as emotional problems, strained or toxic relationships, and unhealthy habits.
Also referred to as a dry alcoholic, someone with dry drunk syndrome may continue to maintain strained relationships and unhealthy habits. Simply put, they may have failed to address the emotional and social problems that contributed to their alcohol use in the first place.
Dry drunk syndrome is most common among people who quit alcoholism on their own, as they don’t have a professional support team to guide them through the recovery process. Those who undergo professional alcoholism treatment are less likely to go through dry drunk syndrome.
However, while the phrase “dry drunk” has been used flippantly by some members of the 12 Step community, it’s important to note that dry drunk syndrome is a legitimate psychological phenomenon that can occur in anyone struggling with alcohol use disorder. It’s not the result of a failed program, nor is it a sign of failure.
With that said, you can overcome dry drunk syndrome. It simply requires a willingness to uncover the root of one’s addiction and implement a major change in one’s habits.
Dry drunk syndrome is also referred to as “white-knuckling.” If you’re experiencing this, then you may still feel on edge or crave alcohol but not be receiving treatment. You may also struggle with any emotional or psychological issues that led you to drink in the first place.
Often, people who don’t deal with their addictions in recovery replace it with other types of addictions, or they relapse. Dry drunk syndrome is also commonly caused by post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS), which are several alcohol withdrawals that occur longer than expected. This form of protracted withdrawal can be uncomfortable enough to promote relapse.
Because dry drunk syndrome is often an early sign of relapse, recognizing it ahead of time can contribute to the person’s long-term success. Some common signs and symptoms of a dry drunk syndrome include:
Dry drunk behavior can strain your relationships, especially the ones that were already affected by your alcohol use. Additionally, if you have any underlying mental health conditions, symptoms may worsen in the case of dry drunk syndrome. For this reason, dual diagnosis treatment helps people with co-occurring disorders in their recovery.
Although dry drunk syndrome doesn’t happen to everyone, it is important to address any issues that contributed to your addiction to prevent relapse and achieve long-term sobriety. If you suspect that you’re dealing with this syndrome, don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s a part of the recovery process for many people, and there are things you can do to manage your symptoms.
Some tips on coping with dry drunk syndrome include:
Recovery is a tough and complex process. For most people, simply quitting drinking isn’t enough. There needs to be a complete change in their lifestyle, habits, and mental health to create an internal and external space that’s conducive to their recovery. Many people who struggle with dry drunk syndrome never reach out for assistance or support, but one of the best ways to recover is to seek out professional help.
Our drug rehab in Naperville, IL, offers assistance for alcoholism and dry drunk recovery that can improve your or your loved one’s chances of getting and staying sober. Our partial hospitalization program is designed to guide patients as they transition back to a sober lifestyle.
Our PHP is a great level of care for someone who’s in recovery, but needs further assistance in avoiding relapse and establishing a sober-friendly routine and environment at home. From therapy programs to aftercare services, our Chicago drug and alcohol rehab can give you the additional support you need to overcome dry drunk syndrome and any other issues you face in recovery.