Dry Drunk Syndrome

Medically Reviewed By Kayla Loibl | Last Edited:  JANUARY 22 ,
2021 | 3 Sources

Dry drunk syndrome

What is a dry drunk? Dry drunk syndrome is when a former alcoholic is being despondent about life and continues to behave as if they are still drinking.

Those with this syndrome express feelings of unhappiness and it may look like when they were drinking. People who go through this syndrome experience emotional issues and not physical issues.

Dealing with this syndrome is one of the hardest parts of getting over being an alcoholic.

The act of being dry drunk means is a set of personality traits attached to a feeling of hopelessness or a loss of joy. Many alcoholics may have exhibited these behaviors while drunk and now, while sober, the feeling may be intensified.

Dry Drunk Syndrome

What is a Dry Drunk?

The person's demeanor is key in spotting the dry drunk condition. People typically exhibit behaviors that show self-important or detached. The past alcoholic may be very self-absorbed and completely ignore the needs or emotions of others around them.

Alcohol is often defined as a downer, so some people who used to get drunken likely exhibited signs of depression or feelings of detachment as well.

Detachment can become a major issue for suffers of the syndrome. Detachment can lead to boredom, feelings of, and becoming easily distracted. Both can be disastrous when attempting to detox from alcohol, especially for those who wish to commit to sober living. 

Coping and Adjustment to Sobriety

Another sign that a person could be dry drunk is that the individual is having a hard time coping and adjusting. This usually means that the person is impatient, faults others about the issues that they may be having, and impulsive or indecisive behavior.

Not thinking long-term is a well-known issue with those who are suffering through being dry drunk. Displays of impatience and deflection are usual for family members of former alcoholics to notice from dry drunks.

Most people commit to helping their loved ones stay away from alcoholic drinks. This process is likely to be difficult, and the former alcoholic family member may become agitated, impatient or have outbursts.

This behavior may be seen as a part of the individual who has detoxed from alcohol. It is important not to normalize certain behaviors, as they may be suffering from dry drunk.

Some of the severe effects of the syndrome are feelings of nostalgia for drinking, no longer going to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, and neglecting the 12-step programs. Longing for the days of binge drinking and abusing alcohol can send former drinkers spiraling back towards alcohol.

Neglecting support meetings will only exacerbate the feelings of missing drinking. Once the dry drunk syndrome issues reach this level, gaining back control becomes critical.

Making a Plan

If you notice that a loved one may suffer from dry drunk syndrome, encouragement is one of the best routes to choose. You must initially confront them about their behavior and explain where their behavior may stem from.

Be prepared, as the primary question will be 'what is a dry drunk?' Former alcoholics who are suffering from this syndrome may feel that going back to drinking is one way to escape from their current reality.

Helping them understand that they have a true diagnosis may present them the option of feeling more hopeful about receiving help. Getting the person back into their meetings, finding a sponsor, and helping to support the individuals with building a fresh start will combat the symptoms of dry drunk syndrome and help to create a new reality for that fight against alcoholism.

Lead Writer/Reviewer : Kayla Loibl

Licensed Medical Health Professional 

I am a Mental Health Counselor who is licensed in both New York (LMHC) and North Carolina (LPC). I have been working in the Mental Health field since 2015. I have worked in a residential setting, an outpatient program and an inpatient addictions program. I began working in Long Island, NY and then in Guelph, Ontario after moving to Canada. Read More

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