The Phenomenon of the Dry Drunk

The Phenomenon of the Dry Drunk

A dry drunk sounds like a contradictory term and, in many ways, it is. Psychologists and addiction experts define dry drunk as a person who has overcome alcoholism, but retains many of the negative thoughts, feelings and behaviors she had when she was drinking. In other words, the alcohol is gone, but the symptoms are still there. The same phenomenon can occur with a drug addict, but the term dry drunk is still used. If you have a dry drunk in your life, you must encourage her to continue with her treatment for addiction.

Why Do Alcoholics Become Dry Drunks?

Recovering addicts and their loved ones often find themselves in this situation. The alcohol is gone, and yet the problems are still there. It can be very frustrating to both the alcoholic and the loved one. For years you have struggled with her drinking. You suffered her mood swings, dishonesty and other negative behaviors. Finally, she has gone through a private addiction treatment program and she is sober. So why are the problems still there? Why is your relationship still strained?

What happens in these situations is that drinking was a symptom of a larger, more complex psychological issue, one that has not been fully addressed. Getting sober is just one piece of the treatment puzzle. The dry drunk needs more treatment and therapy to sort through all of the underlying problems that led to alcoholism. She also needs to learn how to live a completely new kind of life. The transition from heavy drinker to teetotaler can be overwhelming and difficult.

What Is the Dry Drunk Personality?

It may be obvious that you are dealing with a dry drunk, but, if it isn’t, take a look at the characteristics of a dry drunk to see if they match with what your loved one is going through. Dry drunks tend to resent the person or situation that led them to stop drinking. They often feel depressed with the realization that their drinking held them back from life goals, including having a family or being a good parent. They may worry that it is too late and that they have ruined certain aspects of their lives.

With all of these worries and concerns, dry drunks are often angry and may find it difficult to accept all of the time they wasted on drinking. They may become angry and withdrawn and fear trying anything new because of the possibility of failure. Dry drunks are also jealous of people who seem successful and strong, and who have realized their dreams and goals. All of these feelings cause dry drunks to act out in negative and hurtful ways, especially toward loved ones.

How Can You Help a Dry Drunk?

The best way for you to help your dry drunk is to lend your support and unconditional love. Also know that the situation will not improve unless she gets help. Encourage her to start seeing her therapist or drug counselor again to work through the issues she is having. Let her know that you will be there for her as she struggles to find a way to live a normal and happy life. With perseverance and support from loved ones, she can get better.

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