Two people talking about dry drunk syndrome

What Is Being Dry Drunk?

If you are in recovery from alcohol use disorder (AUD) or know someone who is, you may have heard of the term “dry drunk.” But what is the meaning of “dry drunk”? Is the person sober, or have they relapsed and resumed drinking? The term can be confusing, so continue reading to learn about the definition of dry drunkenness, the symptoms of dry drunk syndrome, and how you can help yourself or a loved one maintain sobriety.

If you are worried that a loved one in recovery may be at risk of relapse, it is best to get support sooner rather than later. Reach out to Promises Brazos Valley at 979.426.0086 to find out how we can help someone you care about strengthen their commitment to sober living. And in the event of relapse, we also offer an alcohol detox program to help them get back on track.

What Is the Definition of “Dry Drunk”?

The meaning of “dry drunk” can be confusing since dry and drunk tend to insinuate opposite things. Dry drunk syndrome refers to a person who has quit drinking alcohol but has not yet addressed the contributors to alcohol use disorder. Essentially, they are sober but at high risk of relapse.

Is Dry Drunk Syndrome Dangerous?

Dry drunk syndrome should not be overlooked as it can endanger a person. So, why is it a problem even though the person abstains from alcohol? The primary concern about dry drunk syndrome is that the person is at a high risk of relapsing. This is because:

  • They may still have intense cravings for alcohol.
  • They have not dealt with stress or mental health disorders that led them to self-medicate with alcohol.
  • They may lose motivation to maintain their recovery.
  • They do not have healthy coping skills to manage daily stressors.
  • They are more likely to revert to unhelpful coping mechanisms when encountering problems.

Stopping drinking is just one component of recovery from alcohol use disorder. To overcome addiction in the long term, one needs a comprehensive treatment program that consists of therapy, medication, and support. People struggling with dry drunk syndrome often miss the treatment and support they need for a successful, lasting recovery.

How to Know If Someone Struggles with Dry Drunk Syndrome

You may be proud of your loved one for refraining from alcohol, but you should look for signs of dry drunk syndrome. Recognizing these signs can help prevent someone from derailing their recovery and relapsing:

  • Having drastic mood swings
  • Denying how one’s alcohol misuse affected others
  • Feeling envy or bitterness toward people who seem to be enjoying a sober lifestyle
  • Making negative comments about sobriety
  • Reminiscing over past alcohol misuse
  • Having a victim mentality
  • Skipping treatment sessions or support group meetings

Dry drunk syndrome can indicate that a person is slipping and may be headed toward relapse. This condition should be addressed immediately to get the person back on their recovery course. Make an extra effort to support your loved one’s sobriety, and encourage them to talk about their feelings and alcohol cravings with their addiction counselor or at support group meetings. 

Get Help for Dry Drunk Syndrome at Promises Brazos Valley

If you or someone in your life shows signs of dry drunk syndrome, you may need to reconsider your treatment plan. For some people, this may mean enrolling in a higher level of care that includes more frequent treatment sessions. It can also mean attending support group meetings more frequently or finding a sober buddy to provide support as needed. For more ideas on preventing relapse and dry drunk syndrome, contact Promises Brazos Valley today at 979.426.0086.

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