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

Anyone who is hoping to recover from addiction, anyone who loves someone who is hoping to overcome addiction, and anyone who works with people working on their recovery from addiction must make sure that they are aware of dry drunk syndrome. It’s very common and it’s crucial that anyone working on his or her recovery from addiction to drugs or alcohol is conscious of it. Recovery is an ongoing and neverending process; it’s likely that most people will experience some symptoms of dry drunk syndrome on their path.

Definition of Dry Drunk Syndrome

So, what is dry drunk syndrome, anyway?

Someone may be called a dry drunk because he or she has detoxed from alcohol and has stopped drinking and using drugs, yet he or she has never dealt with the issues that caused them to become addicted to drugs or alcohol in the first place.

After many years of research, we now know that most people who struggle with addiction do so due to various reasons that have nothing to do with drugs or alcohol. These reasons can include mental illness, trauma, a family history of addiction, and others. 

Today we know that it’s difficult, if not impossible, for someone to truly recover from drug and alcohol addiction without also treating the root issues that caused the addiction.

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.