Last Updated on June 10, 2024 by Dr. Alberto Solà

Have you ever heard someone referred to as a “dry drunk”? 

You may have heard the term before, but you may not know what it means. Or, you may have some idea of the meaning of the term, but you may not fully understand it. Dry drunk syndrome is an issue that is not uncommon among people who have quit drinking. Also, even though it’s called dry drunk syndrome, it can also apply to people who quit doing drugs as well.

There’s a big difference between sobriety and recovery. Simply because someone is sober from alcohol and drugs doesn’t always mean that he or she is in recovery from substance use disorder.

Does this sound confusing? Does it challenge what you thought you understood about addiction and recovery in the past? Read on to learn more about what the term “dry drunk” actually means and discover how people can overcome it.

Importance of Understanding Dry Drunk Syndrome

Grasping the concept of dry drunk syndrome is a key aspect of successful addiction recovery, not only for the individuals striving to overcome their addictions but also for their loved ones and the professionals assisting them in their journey. Dry drunk syndrome is an all-too-common phenomenon and holds significant implications for anyone striving to heal from substance abuse. It’s important to remember that recovery is not a destination but rather a continuous journey. As such, it’s quite likely that individuals navigating their way toward sobriety will grapple with symptoms of dry drunk syndrome at some point.

Dry Drunk Syndrome Definition

So, what exactly does dry drunk syndrome entail?

The term “dry drunk” typically refers to an individual who has successfully undergone detoxification from alcohol or drugs and maintains abstinence. However, this person has not yet confronted or resolved the root causes that initially drove them towards substance dependency.

Years of comprehensive research have shed light on the multifaceted origins of addiction, revealing that most people grappling with addiction do so for reasons that extend far beyond their substance of choice. These triggers may encompass mental health issues, past trauma, genetic predisposition towards addiction, among other factors.

In the modern therapeutic landscape, it has become abundantly clear that genuine, lasting recovery from drug and alcohol addiction requires more than simply breaking physical dependency. It necessitates addressing and healing the underlying issues that catalyzed the addiction. Achieving lasting recovery without addressing these root causes is challenging, if not impossible.

Characteristics of Dry Drunk Syndrome

While dry drunk syndrome may not be obvious or apparent at the beginning of one’s sobriety, it can increase and grow over time. If left untreated and unaddressed, it could lead to the individual returning to drug or alcohol use and abuse or it could lead to other negative behaviors.

Although everyone is different, there are numerous symptoms that may imply that you or someone you love who is sober is experiencing dry drunk syndrome. 

Emotional and Psychological Symptoms

Emotional and psychological symptoms of dry drunk syndrome are the most common types of symptoms. Someone who is experiencing dry drunk syndrome may have extreme mood swings, fear that doesn’t go away, and anger and resentment toward others. They may romanticize their partying past and may begin to feel anger and resentment toward recovery.

Behavioral Symptoms

Dry drunks may have difficulty concentrating. They may also have a hard time maintaining healthy relationships with others. They might isolate themselves and may become somewhat self-obsessed, too. Dry drunks often have a hard time sleeping, and also struggle with memory, learning, and problem-solving as well. 

Physical Symptoms

Some people who struggle with dry drunk syndrome may substitute their former drug or alcohol addiction with another type of addiction like gambling, sex, or shopping. They may also start to take dangerous risks like driving too fast or not being careful when participating in extreme sports or other aspects of life. They may stop taking care of themselves.

Causes of Dry Drunk Syndrome

Dry drunk syndrome is caused by someone getting sober without addressing the issues that lead to addiction. Whatever these issues may be, the individual must face them and work through them if he or she wishes to truly progress on the path to recovery.

Diagnosis of Dry Drunk Syndrome

If someone has been sober for a long or short time and is experiencing the symptoms described above, he or she may be struggling with dry drunk syndrome. Also, if someone has been sober for a while but still craves alcohol, that can be another sign. To get an official diagnosis for dry drunk syndrome, visit a therapist or psychologist. He or she will not only be able to diagnose dry drunk syndrome but will also be able to help the individual overcome it.

Prevention of Dry Drunk Syndrome

Of course, it’s easy to prevent dry drunk syndrome from the start if someone is willing to seek therapy when quitting drugs or alcohol. Again, recovery is more than just sobriety. It’s crucial that people who wish to get clean and sober also address the issues that led to addiction in the first place.

Treatment of Dry Drunk Syndrome

Fortunately, dry drunk syndrome is very treatable. The person struggling with it just has to decide to get help and has to stick to it. Over time, the symptoms will fade, and then that individual can begin walking on a true and healthy path to recovery.


Psychotherapy can be a huge help when it comes to overcoming dry drunk syndrome. Talking to someone about one’s recovery and the past issues that led to addiction can be all it takes to put these issues in the past once and for all. Experienced counselors can help anyone work through trauma and can help guide individuals through treatment for various mental health disorders and issues.

Medication-Assisted Treatment

If the individual has been diagnosed with depression or anxiety or both, medication-assisted treatment can also help. Anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medications can completely turn a person’s world around. After years of self-medicating with drugs and alcohol, these types of medications can provide immense relief to help anyone regain mental balance.

Support Groups and 12-Step Programs

Because dry drunk syndrome is so common, it’s often a topic of discussion in support groups and twelve-step programs. Anyone struggling with dry drunk syndrome will surely find support and sympathy from others dealing with the same issues, and will also find tips to help stay on the right track.

Clear Sky Recovery

A visit to see us at Clear Sky Recovery at our facility in Mexico can help, too. Our innovative and effective ibogaine treatment is administered at our facility under professional medical supervision. This treatment will help participants to find the root of their addiction independently and will help them to challenge it face-to-face. Our staff will guide the process and will be there for participants every step of the way.

If you’re interested in learning more about ibogaine, we’d love to talk to you. We’re standing by to answer your questions. We can’t wait to hear from you. Contact us today.