Addiction Treatment

The Dry Drunk: Why Not Using Isn’t Enough

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Medically reviewed: 10/03/2018
Last updated: 05/13/2019
Author: Addictions.com Medical Review

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Recovering from alcohol addiction takes more than just getting sober. While sobriety only requires the cessation alcohol use, recovery takes more. It takes making changes to your negative thinking and actions, your negative self-talk, and your self-destructive behaviors. Trying to maintain sobriety in a life that is the exactly the same as before—just minus the alcohol—creates a state of constant stress, with each day a battle to avoid drinking.

While dry drunks are often seen at the beginning of recovery, among people who don’t get the kind of follow-up treatment recommended after detoxing from alcohol or being discharged from treatment, they may also be a person who has become comfortable in his or her recovery, then complacent, and has slipped back into old, unhealthy patterns.

If you think you may be a dry drunk, here are five ways to tell.

You’re Angry, and You Don’t Know Why

When you’re a dry drunk, it can feel like you’re always angry or mad at the world and you don’t even know why. It’s because you’re not making any changes to your destructive and dysfunctional behaviors. You’re still living a life centered around addiction; you just aren’t drinking.

You’re Glamorizing Your Drinking Days

When you’re a dry drunk, you may feel as if drinking would make you feel better, and you may start to long for your glory days of partying like a rock star. Instead of remembering the hangovers, the cop cars, and the money and time wasted, you glamorize your drinking, only remembering the good times while forgetting the bad.

The Glass Is Half Empty

If you find that you’re always looking at the negative instead of the positive, then you may be a dry drunk. When you’re pessimistic, looking at the world from a glass half empty perspective that is always focused on how things will be in the future you’re not in recovery. Recovery is about being grateful for and present in each day, taking opportunities to grow as they come.

You’re Not Sure the Last Time You Were at a Meeting

When you’re in recovery, it’s important to do the things that support your recovery, and one of those things is going to meetings. You also need to take good care of your mental and physical health. Neglecting any aspect of your wellbeing can cause you to return to old, unhealthy ways of life that will make you miserable and vulnerable to relapse.

You’re Inactive

If it seems as if you’re always laying around, never doing anything then there’s a good chance you’re a dry drunk.  Not only does your body need physical exercise to be healthy, but your mind also needs activity and distraction to be healthy. You need to take action to create a life with purpose and vitality so that drinking no longer holds the same appeal.

Are You Ready for Alcohol Addiction Help?

Recovery isn’t always easy, but it isn’t supposed to be torture. If you find yourself gritting your teeth and slogging through each day of sobriety, it’s time to seek out a long-term treatment program that can help you rediscover happiness and hope.

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