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Important Things You Need to Know About the Dry Drunk Syndrome

Things You Need to Know about Dry Drunk Syndrome
Dry drunk syndrome refers to a condition wherein physical and mental symptoms persist in a recovering alcoholic even though he has stopped drinking alcohol. This WellnessKeen write-up explains the symptoms and treatment of dry drunk syndrome in detail.
Smita Pandit
Last Updated: Apr 22, 2018
According to a study conducted by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) in 2012, approximately 17 million Americans in the age group of 18 years and above have an alcohol use disorder.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines alcohol abuse as a pattern of drinking that results in harm to one's health, interpersonal relationships, and ability to work. On the other hand, alcoholism is a chronic disease that is characterized by alcohol addiction. The signs of alcoholism include a strong craving for alcohol, inability to limit drinking, and continued use despite physical, psychological, and interpersonal problems. A large number of people are affected by alcohol abuse across the world. Unfortunately, binge drinkers or individuals who drink alcohol frequently don't often realize when alcohol abuse turns into a full-blown alcohol addiction, which is a grave issue that should never be ignored. The first step to tackle the issue of alcoholism is to acknowledge the fact that you are addicted to alcohol.

Sobriety doesn't come easy. A recovering alcoholic is in a fragile state of mind, which can be easily affected. When a recovering alcoholic displays dysfunctional behavioral traits that are characteristic of alcoholism despite abstaining from alcohol, he/she is said to be affected by dry drunk syndrome.
Symptoms of Dry Drunk Syndrome
The term 'dry drunk syndrome' is derived from the words dry and drunk. While the former refers to the fact that a person is practicing abstinence from alcohol, the latter refers to a pathological condition or dysfunctional behavior that is attributed to alcohol consumption. Being dry drunk refers to being in a state that is often observed in recovering alcoholics who have been able to abstain from alcohol, but have not been able to work through the aspects that are essential for staying sober, and leading a healthy life.
A person might be affected by this syndrome, if he/she has been experiencing the following symptoms:

✦ Irritability
✦ Anger
✦ Intolerance/Impatience
✦ Impulsivity
✦ Indecisiveness
✦ Notions of self-importance or self-pity
✦ Compulsive behavior
✦ Low self-esteem
✦ Judgmentalism (Making harsh judgments of oneself or others)
✦ Blaming others for one's shortcomings
✦ Mood swings
✦ Nostalgia (daydreaming or fantasizing about the joys one associates with drinking)
✦ Detachment
✦ Boredom
✦ Decreased interest in going to Alcoholics Anonymous or other support groups
✦ Dropping out of the support group or sessions with the substance abuse counselor
Basically, a dry drunk just stays physically sober, but he/she continues to have the mindset of an alcoholic. Some individuals use alcohol as a means to escape from the challenges that life throws at them. And even if they manage to overcome alcohol addiction, they might still be full of resentment or frustration due to their inadequate coping skills. Such individuals are very likely to relapse, as they often feel dissatisfied and angry. One of the characteristic traits of such individuals is that they are always rationalizing their irresponsible behavior.
An individual affected by dry drunk syndrome is likely to get stressed easily. Dissatisfied with life, he/she might become depressed, and lose interest in activities that he/she enjoyed earlier. Though such individuals might abstain from drinking, they are in denial about their mental state.
They might not drink, but they might reminisce about the times they used to drink. They might consider those times as good times, which can make them more miserable and more likely to relapse.
They might continue to engage in unhealthy behavior. They might boast about themselves and find faults in others. Such individuals are quick to pass harsh judgments, while they justify themselves, however wrong they might be.
At times, they might start playing the blame game, blaming others for the mistakes they have made in life.
They might become aloof and indifferent, which can become a cause of concern for their friends and family members.
How to Overcome Dry Drunk Syndrome
Denial is the biggest hindrance on the path to sobriety. First of all, the affected person needs to acknowledge the fact that he/she needs help. Here are some tips to overcome this problem:
The objective of groups such as the Alcoholics Anonymous is to help individuals affected by alcohol addiction find ways to cope. Following this 12-step program honestly has certainly helped many alcoholics become sober. Going to the meetings, opening up your heart to your sponsor or any other member might surely prove beneficial.
There are several other support groups that you can join. Sharing your experiences and interacting with other individuals who are trying to quit drinking will certainly give you strength.
You can also consult a substance abuse counselor or therapist who can help you get rid of negative thought patterns and help you cope better.
You can also get yourself enrolled in a treatment center. Attending counseling sessions can help you find ways to prevent a relapse.
Pursuing a hobby or spending time doing something that you enjoy can also help in improving your state of mind.
Venting out your emotions to your family and friends might also make you feel better. Penning your thoughts could also help.
How to Deal with a Person Affected by Dry Drunk Syndrome
Dealing with a person suffering from dry drunk syndrome can be quite difficult. The recovering alcoholics might resist the need for making changes, as they think that there's nothing that needs to be corrected or changed. During this time, they need a strong support system. Family members can certainly help the affected person realize the truth, but they need to be very subtle.
Family members should make themselves available, and be ready to listen to the recovering alcoholic, especially when he/she is feeling vulnerable. The affected individual might not realize this, or may not acknowledge the need for their support, but he/she really needs it. Friends and family members need to be extremely patient and forgiving. Relapse is less likely in case of a recovering alcoholic who has a very supportive family. Here are some tips for family members and friends:
Family members must never alienate the affected person. They should try to keep him/her involved. They must pay attention to what he/she is saying.
It is essential to encourage the person to join a support group, go to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, or stay in touch with their sponsor.
Complacency or disinterest could indicate the possibility of a relapse, which is why family members need to keep an eye on the recovering alcoholic.
Family members should refrain from preaching or punishing the affected individual. They should not emotionally blackmail the alcoholic, thereby making him/her feel guilty. Such feelings of guilt could actually induce them to drink.
At the same time, family members should not protect the alcoholic from the consequences of alcohol addiction. They should not make excuses for wrongful behavior of the alcoholic.
Family members should refrain from preaching or punishing the affected individual. They should not emotionally blackmail the alcoholic, thereby making him/her feel guilty. Such feelings of guilt could actually induce them to drink.
At the same time, family members should not protect the alcoholic from the consequences of alcohol addiction. They should not make excuses for wrongful behavior of the alcoholic.
Don't belittle them by doing their job, or taking over their responsibilities.
The real test of a recovering alcoholic is his/her ability to abstain from drinking in the presence of alcohol. So, don't lock away or throw bottles. However, do keep an eye on them, at places where alcohol is present.
Family members need to be very strong. They should not consider themselves guilty. It is essential to stay emotionally strong so as to help the recovering alcoholic cope and stop him/her from falling back into the vicious cycle of addiction.
Being a dry drunk means that the recovering alcoholic has not been able to bring about the favorable changes in attitude and behavior that are associated with sobriety in the real sense. Being more involved in the recovery program can certainly help alcoholics, as well as sober individuals that are on the verge of relapsing, turn their life around. Such programs can help them identify their stressors or triggers, and help them find ways to resist the urge to drink.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.