Dry Drunk Syndrome

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dry drunk

The term “dry drunk” was first coined in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), and is used to describe someone who has quit drinking but who has not taken any additional steps to heal on a mental, emotional, or spiritual basis. For many, experiencing the symptoms of dry drunk syndrome is an early indication of an eventual relapse (an eventual return to substance use). In order to understand what it means to be a dry drunk, it is important to thoroughly understand the difference between sobriety and recovery. Individuals who are sober are abstaining from mood and mind-altering substances. Individuals who are in recovery are sober and they are actively working on developing the tools and skills they need to become the best versions of themselves.

If you or someone you love is experiencing the symptoms associated with dry drunk syndrome, taking additional measures to prevent relapse might be necessary. Many people find that ongoing involvement in a 12 Step program makes a world of difference, helping them stay actively engaged in their recovery. To learn more about the benefits of 12 Step program involvement, contact 12 Step East Coast today.

What is a Dry Drunk?

A dry drunk is someone who has stopped drinking, but who is still engaging in self-destructive behaviors and who has not yet developed healthy coping mechanisms. In order to begin living a life of recovery it is important to do more than simply white-knuckle your way through each day. You must address all underlying issues — the reasons you turned to alcohol in the first place.

Symptoms of Dry Drunk Syndrome

Common symptoms of dry drunk syndrome include:

  • Irritability and agitation.
  • Significant changes to mood for no apparent reason.
  • Feeling like you are the victim of every unfortunate situation.
  • Picking fights with loved ones for no reason.
  • Difficulties with communication/having a hard time expressing yourself.
  • Feeling resentment towards people who encourage you to stay sober.
  • Finding reasons to talk yourself out of sobriety (for example, it is boring or isolating).
  • Neglecting your self-care routine.
  • Romanticizing alcohol use.
  • Being defensive about alcohol and the problems it caused.
  • Feeling jealous of people who seem to have it “all figured out.”
  • Self-sabotaging.
  • Refusing to accept help or constructive criticism from others.

How to Overcome Dry Drunk Syndrome

What steps can you take to successfully overcome dry drunk syndrome? The most important step you can take is getting involved in a 12 Step program like Alcoholics Anonymous. This isn’t difficult to do — all you have to do is find a meeting list in your area and start showing up to meetings when your schedule allows. For more information on AA meetings on the East Coast, contact us directly. We encourage you to participate in meetings — raise your hand, ask questions, introduce yourself as a newcomer. Additional steps you can take include:

  • Seeking individual therapy from a licensed therapist in your area.
  • Addressing any underlying mental health concerns.
  • Finding healthy ways to work through stress and uncomfortable emotions.
  • Develop healthy coping mechanisms and relapse prevention techniques.
  • Acknowledge your personal limits and set and maintain healthy boundaries.
  • Do things that make you feel good about yourself, like volunteering or calling up old friends.
  • Talk openly about your emotional hardships and any challenges you face.

Signs & Symptoms of Alcohol Use Disorder

If you are still reconsidering your relationship with alcohol and you have not yet taken the necessary steps to get sober, you might be wondering if recovery is really necessary. How can you tell whether or not your relationship with alcohol has taken a turn for the worse? Not everyone who struggles with problematic drinking patterns is an alcoholic. Some people who drink alcohol on a daily basis will be able to easily walk away from alcohol once a good enough reason presents itself. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5) outlines a list of diagnostic criteria that must be present in order for an individual to be officially diagnosed with an alcohol use disorder.

  • You begin to feel powerless over your relationship with alcohol. You can no longer control how often you drink or how much you drink.
  • You start to neglect activities that you previously enjoyed as a direct result of your alcohol use. You step away from a range of hobbies and social activities that used to be of interest to you.
  • You face problems at work or at home as a direct result of your drinking.
  • You continue to drink regularly despite related issues. These issues could be interpersonal, financial, legal, or health-related.
  • You have a desire to cut back on your alcohol use, but you find it difficult to do so despite repeated attempts to control your drinking.
  • You have been engaging in high-risk situations while under the influence, like driving while intoxicated or combining alcohol with other chemical substances.
  • You spend a significant amount of time obtaining alcohol, drinking alcohol, and recovering from the effects of alcohol.
  • You experience symptoms of withdrawal when you stop drinking suddenly (the symptoms of withdrawal are often confused for the symptoms of a bad hangover).
  • You will continue drinking in order to avoid the symptoms associated with a hangover (headaches, nausea, loss of appetite, dehydration, fatigue).
  • You have developed a tolerance over time, meaning you need to drink more than you used to in order to feel intoxicated.
  • You experience cravings for alcohol when you are not drinking and when alcohol is not readily accessible.

Entering into a 12 Step program like Alcoholics Anonymous following treatment often means the difference between continued sobriety and eventual relapse. If you or someone you love has completed a multi-staged treatment program in the East Coast area and would like to incorporate 12 Step meetings as part of their aftercare plan, 12 Step East Coast is available to help. Not only do we offer a comprehensive meeting guide, helping connect Illinois residents with 12 Step meetings in their area, but we are available to offer guidance to those who are still interested in finding a higher level of care. At 12 Step East Coast we have long-standing professional relationships with several reputable medical detoxification centers and residential treatment programs in the area. If you would like more information on how to get started on your personal journey of recovery, contact us today. We look forward to speaking with you soon and answering any additional questions you might have.

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