Are you a dry drunk?

Does this scenario sound familiar? You or a loved one recently quit drinking alcohol. However, recovery is not going as smoothly as anticipated. The person trying to stop is irritable and not very fun to be around.

Although alcohol is no longer in the picture, its presence is felt more strongly than ever. Though you’re no longer drinking, you’re still feeling angry, resentful, and fearful about relapse.

Perhaps your loved one has quit drinking — but replaced alcohol with new, harmful habits. Instead of healing, there is anger, resentment, cloudy-thinking, and belligerent behavior.

If this description strikes a chord — for either yourself or a loved one — you may be feeling confused and let down. You may, in fact, be struggling as a dry drunk.

Who’s at risk? How can you spot the symptoms? And how do you get help?

Dry Drunk vs. True Sobriety

It’s important to understand that true recovery from alcohol abuse disorder and other drug abuse disorders is completely attainable. With help, guidance, and the correct therapy, you can achieve a comfortable level of sobriety.

However, it’s also important to recognize the prevalence of dry drunk syndrome.

First identified by R.J. Solberg in his book The Dry Drunk Syndrome, this recognizable disorder strikes those who are physically abstaining from alcohol.

Despite the fact that they’re not currently drinking alcohol, individuals with the dry drunk syndrome may retain many of the same negative or harmful practices and behaviors that defined their previous lives. In fact, loved ones may notice certain behaviors becoming even worse than they were while the person was still drinking.

For those suffering — and those loved ones supporting them — this can be a very emotionally, mentally, and physically trying time. In many cases, there’s a feeling of helplessness and frustration. If you’ve stopped drinking, then why are you still suffering the negative effects of drinking?

Dry Drunk & Its Relation to PAWS

The emotional and psychological aspects associated with dry drunk may be exacerbated by post-acute withdrawal syndrome.

When individuals with alcohol use disorder quit drinking, they often suffer from immediate, acute symptoms. Although these vary from person to person, symptoms are physical and often include nausea, tremors, sweating, and rapid heart rate. Usually, these very severe symptoms stop after two weeks.

However, people can also suffer something called Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS), which strikes months to a year after quitting. Symptoms of PAWS may include anxiety, cognitive impairment, depression, fatigue, and high levels of apathy. For those in recovery, PAWS can intensify dry drunk syndrome, adding withdrawal symptoms to an already-complicated and unsettled state of mind.

How to Spot the Signs & Symptoms of Dry Drunk Syndrome

If you suspect that you or a loved one are experiencing a dry drunk, it’s important to know some of the signs and symptoms. Carole Bennett, author of the book Is There a Dry Drunk in Your Life? outlines some of the main signs and symptoms of a dry drunk:

  • Expressing resentment towards friends or family members who pushed a person to stop drinking
  • Upset that they can’t drink anymore, and even romanticizing their past with alcohol
  • Feeling afraid of failing at sobriety
  • Sad about all the years, opportunities, and life passions they may have lost over the course of their alcohol use disorder
  • Jealousy over the accomplishments of others
  • Replacing alcohol use with other destructive habits

Unfortunately, if you have a loved one going through this difficult time, you may feel that their behavior is at times even worse than it was while they were drinking.

Their constant irritability and anger mean that you’re both having difficulty moving on with your lives and establishing the peaceful life of sobriety you’d anticipated.

Burning Tree West Transitional Living

It is common to struggle after going to a 30 or 60-day drug or alcohol treatment center. Often we are thrown back into our old lives and expect to remain completely changed. However, if we are not continuously treating this chronic disease, we will relapse or become dry.  If you want a transitional living program that can help you or your loved one better transition into society, give us a call.

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