Last Updated on December 13, 2021 by Dr. Alberto Solà

Finally, you or someone you love has broken free from the bounds of frequent bouts of alcohol abuse and from full-blown alcoholism in general. For years, this was a struggle. Alcohol can take hold of someone for years or even decades, so when someone quits drinking for once and for all, it’s something to celebrate.

However, even though the years of your drinking or your loved one’s drinking is now behind you all, you realize that the problems that went along with it did not magically dissolve. Some things improved, but there are still some very obvious symptoms of alcoholism that seem evident – even though affected individual is no longer drinking.

This is not rare, or even uncommon. When someone who is recovering from alcoholism still presents with many of the negative symptoms of the disease even after quitting drinking, he or she may be suffering from what some call “dry drunk” syndrome.

What is a Dry Drunk?

Someone who is considered a dry drunk is someone who use to abuse alcohol, but managed to stop somewhere along the way. He or she may have gone to a rehabilitation center, may have attended meetings, or may have quit independently.

Unfortunately, some people who quit drinking still have many of the same issues now that they are sober that they had when they were drinking heavily.  Although they are no longer getting drunk, they may still act recklessly or impulsively.

There are a number of behaviors that dry drunks may exhibit even though they are no longer drinking alcohol.  Some of these may include:

  • Lying to work or to people they love.
  • Lashing out at others for even small things.
  • Feeling as if no one understands them or ever will.
  • Getting into physical fights or acting with violence.
  • Visiting bars and clubs and associating with alcoholics or binge drinkers.
  • Feelings of anxiety or depression in recovery.
  • Showing lack of interest or value in sober relationships.
  • Outward expressions of frustration.

Unfortunately, people suffering from dry drunk syndrome have managed to overcome the physical dependence to alcohol, but still have many issues to work on. They have not fully committed to a lifetime of recovery and sobriety.

In many cases, people suffering from dry drunk syndrome to end up returning to alcohol abuse. The bottom line is they were likely not committed to recovery and in time, they end up being drawn back into the darkness.

Dry Drunk Syndrome & Dual Diagnosis

One of the most likely causes for dry drunk syndrome is a missed dual diagnosis.  Most addiction professionals today now realize that more often than not, addiction is the result of untreated and unaddressed mental illnesses. Many people turn to alcohol and drugs to alleviate the pain they feel from depression, anxiety, PTSD, a difficult childhood, or other issues.  According to a 2014 National Survey on Drug Abuse and Healthy, 7.9 million people in the United States suffer from both a mental illness and a drug or alcohol addiction at the same time.

As a result, a large number of addiction recovery programs seek to determine the co-occurring disorder and treat it alongside and at the same time as the addiction treatment itself. It is impossible to have success in one of the two realms without also treating the other. Someone who has depression will likely soon return to using drugs or drinking if his or her depression is not treated, and someone who continues drinking and using drugs will not cover much ground in his or her depression treatment if these substances remain in the picture.

Not every addiction recovery program is equipped to deal with two issues at once, though. Some still focus just on the addiction and encourage their clients and participants to seek mental health treatment elsewhere. Some also may miss a clients’ need for both, which may lead to lack of treatment for the mental illness.  Still others may become dry drunks because they quit drinking on their own, and they themselves may not be aware of their own need for mental health care support and services.

In all of these cases, the individual may not understand why his or her problems continue to be such a plague even after giving up alcohol.  The person may blame himself or herself for still demonstrating unsatisfactory behaviors, and as a result, may return to drinking to deal with these feelings.

This story is tragic because if these people only understood that they are suffering from more than just an addiction to alcohol, treatment could be sought for the co-occurring disorder, and great success could be experienced.

How to Avoid Becoming a Dry Drunk 

Whether the issue is with you personally or with someone you love, becoming a dry drunk is something that can be avoided. If you feel that you or your loved one is experiencing any of the above feelings or symptoms, psychological care should be pursued. If the individual has not been in an addiction recovery center, or was in one that did not have extensive mental health services built into the program, he or she will benefit greatly from speaking to a mental health professional.

Once you or your loved one has been evaluated by this professional, the real work can begin, By getting to the bottom of the deep-seated, lifelong issues that lead to addiction, a bright future, free from alcohol and the pain that caused the abuse lies ahead. Hope is out there. Focus and treatment will set you free.

At Clear Sky Recovery, we want to help you break free of your addiction, and we can help you to take the first steps.  Our iboga therapy is innovative and effective, and is administered by our very experienced and highly trained staff at our facility in Cancun, Mexico.  Ibogaine can help you to get to the root of your addiction, and many of our patients report no withdrawal symptoms after treatment.  Help us help you; give us a call today.  Our intake specialists are standing by to answer your questions and to help you determine if Clear Sky Recovery is right for you!