Our Blog

What is a Dry Drunk?

Is there a “dry drunk” in your life? The term dry drunk may be familiar to you, even if you’re not fully aware of what it actually means yet. The term tends to confuse some people, too, as it implies being drunk without drinking. The name isn’t universally used as it once was, but the idea behind the name remains important. Today, let’s talk about the behaviors that the term is referring to and how to avoid being a dry drunk.

“Dry drunk syndrome” refers to people with a history of alcohol misuse whose behavior remains erratic and unpredictable after they quit drinking. Because they’re not drinking, they mistakenly assume they’re in recovery. They may miss the signs of dry drunk symptoms, such as being impulsive, making risky choices, or thinking about their drinking episodes of the past. Emotional triggers for the dry drunk’s behavior may come from stress or anxiety, which they haven’t learned to manage in healthy ways. Relapse becomes a serious risk. Help is available for anyone who fits the dry drunk definition provided by addiction specialists.

What does it mean to be a dry drunk?

It’s possible to go through alcohol treatment and stop drinking. But, just eliminating alcohol isn’t enough to stay in recovery. A “dry drunk” may commit to quitting drinking and ignore the rest of the work needed to sustain their sobriety. They may go weeks or months without alcohol, and think they have overcome their addiction.

To others, their erratic and unpredictable behaviors may resemble intoxication. To themselves, they see avoiding alcohol as the sole solution. They may not be aware of how their actions are being interpreted by friends and family.

What are the signs that you are a dry drunk?

There are clues you may see in your own life that suggest the term “dry drunk” could apply to you. You may see some of those clues in social situations. Making unsafe or unhealthy choices might be one. Acting impulsively might be another. Selfish and manipulative thoughts and behaviors are often present.

A repeated focus on talking about your past drinking episodes can also be a warning sign. Frequent negative thoughts, about others or yourself, is another clue that you might be experiencing dry drunk syndrome. You may feel dissatisfied with your life, but not willing to admit that changes need to happen to move forward. Denial, delusion, and other clues, can be a warning sign of a relapse to come.

How do you avoid being a dry drunk?

Avoiding being a dry drunk starts with accepting that mental, emotional, spiritual, and psychological factors led to your drinking. You may have stopped using alcohol but still need to figure out what factors exacerbated your drinking and what areas of your life still need extra care and attention. This step will be valuable in helping you fully recover.

Knowing your warning signs is important. It’s also important to learn healthy coping strategies. When you notice a sign, you’ll want to use a specific action that keeps you from drinking. It’s not a matter of willpower. Everyone needs a variety of strategies to use to reclaim positive mental health and avoid relapse. Your best options for replacement behaviors come from practice and learning what works for you.

Triggers for Dry Drunkenness

Triggers for dry drunkenness can come from inside of you or from the environment around you. Mood swings, anxiety, and difficulty making decisions can derail your peace of mind. Feeling frustrated or angry over your struggle with sobriety can be an emotional trigger, too.

The environmental triggers for dry drunkenness usually come from being immersed in unhealthy relationships. We can allow others’ comments to make you feel a certain way, perhaps resentful if someone mentions your past drinking. What people represent to you can also trigger feelings of worthlessness or insecurity. You may feel jealous of a coworker who seems blessed with qualities you wish you had. Jealousy can become destructive if it fuels critical or hostile comments directed at this person. We need coping skills to appropriately manage these feelings, regardless of our environment.

Origins Behavioral HealthCare is Here to Help

Origins Behavioral HealthCare recognizes the unique needs of someone living with dry drunk syndrome. We help patients create recovery goals that go beyond ending chemical dependence. We introduce new coping skills in individual and group therapy sessions. We encourage patients to devote time to personal growth through hobbies or special interests.

Learning self-care is another essential aspect of treatment for someone with dry drunk symptoms. Origins Behavioral HealthCare emphasizes the importance of proper nutrition, physical activity, and restful sleep. Learning how to connect authentically with peers is another important tool in the self-care needed in recovery.

Origins Behavioral Healthcare is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance use, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We offer renowned clinical care for addiction and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting sobriety. For information on our programs, call us today: 561-841-1296.

Contact Us

Call or send us a message to begin your journey to wellness today.

If you or someone you love has a substance use or mental health disorder, Origins Behavioral HealthCare can help. We will work alongside you to provide the most comprehensive treatment available.