What is Dry Drunk Syndrome? | Wellness Retreat Recovery

What is Dry Drunk Syndrome?

Once someone has gone through rehabilitation for their alcohol addiction, they’ve taken several important steps to improve their lives. Not only have they admitted that they have a problem, but they’ve also made lifestyle changes and chosen to get help. They should be proud of this personal achievement. 

That said, some people find that they still feel some of the symptoms of alcohol addiction after they start their recovery. This is referred to as dry drunk syndrome (or DDS). 

But what is a dry drunk? How can you prevent dry drunk syndrome or recover from it if you already have it? 

We’re here to talk about it. Keep reading to learn all about dry drunk syndrome. 

What Is Dry Drunk Syndrome? 

Dry drunk syndrome is somewhat of a negative term that people who go through AA sometimes use to refer to people who won’t actively engage with their own recovery.

It does have negative connotations, so it’s best not to use this term unless you’re the person who’s experiencing it. Remember, this person is going through something difficult and while it may not seem like they’re trying, they’ve already taken an important step. 

In short, people who are “dry drunks” often seem like they’re still experiencing alcoholism even if they’re abstaining. This isn’t uncommon, but there are ways to fix it. 

Signs and Symptoms of Dry Drunk Syndrome 

So how do you know if you or a loved one has dry drunk syndrome? There are a few signs and symptoms that you can look out for, and you’ll notice that they’re similar to symptoms of alcoholism. Keep in mind that if you see your loved one experiencing these symptoms, it isn’t a sign that they’re using alcohol again. 

Common behavioral symptoms of dry drunk syndrome include:

  • Dishonesty
  • Outward aggression
  • Testing out other addictive behaviors (like gambling)
  • Skipping AA meetings or therapy

There are also several emotional or internal symptoms of dry drunk syndrome. They include:

  • Mood changes
  • Feelings of resentment
  • Poor focus
  • Brain fog
  • Anxiety
  • Depression 

Many people get frustrated when they experience these symptoms. After all, they got sober to get rid of the symptoms associated with alcohol. There are ways to mitigate these problems and continue recovery, however. 

Is It a Sign of Relapse? 

It’s normal to think that these symptoms are a sign that relapse is about to happen, but this isn’t often the case. While relapse is considered a normal part of recovery rather than a personal failure, it’s still in your best interest to prevent it. 

That said, not everyone considers a return to alcohol to be the only thing that constitutes relapse. If these behaviors continue and they drive a temptation toward alcohol abuse, it could also be, in a way, a relapse. 

Dry Drunk Syndrome Treatment and Prevention

So how can one prevent dry drunk syndrome, or recover from it if it’s already started? Prevention and recovery options are similar, so regardless of whether you’re worried about the potential of dry drunk syndrome or you have already experienced it, these tips should be effective.

Stay Connected

Whenever someone is suffering from a mental health issue, having support from friends and family members is a great way to overcome it. Stay connected to the people who love and support you.

It’s tempting to self-isolate when you’re going through dry drunk syndrome. This can (and will) make the symptoms worse. 

Talk to other people about what you’re experiencing and let them know that you’re struggling. Many people will be happy to spend time with you if they know that you need help. 

Make an Active Effort in AA and Group Therapy

You’ve been resisting AA and group therapy, we get it. It’s time to make an active effort, even if that effort starts with simply attending meetings and listening to others. It’s better than nothing and it will encourage you to start participating in the future. 

Remember that you’re all there to support each other. By participating, you’re also supporting the other people in those meetings. 

Learn New Coping Skills

You’ve already learned coping skills during your recovery, but if they’re not working for you, it’s time to readjust. 

You could learn coping skills from a counselor (more on that later), but you can also try coping methods at home. Playing games, reading books, and even starting exercise routines are often helpful when it comes to recovery.

You can also try making art or journaling to release some of that emotional energy in a productive way.

Practice Self-Care and Compassion

Remember that what you’re going through isn’t uncommon, even if it’s difficult for other people to understand. Be compassionate with yourself and start practicing self-care.

Take time to relax. Consider giving yourself an at-home spa treatment (or, if possible, visit a “real” spa for a spa day). Let yourself rest when you’re tired and start doing things that you enjoy. 

Seek Professional Care

While you’re likely already in group therapy, dry drunk syndrome is a sign that it’s time to seek out a counselor or therapist for individual therapy and continued care. They can help you get back on track by teaching you new coping methods and getting to the bottom of the issue. 

Your therapist will understand what you’re going through, so don’t be embarrassed. They’re there to help. 

You Can Recover from Dry Drunk Syndrome

Dry drunk syndrome isn’t a permanent condition. There are solutions to DDS that you can try both from home and in a professional mental health setting. Remember, what you’re experiencing is normal.

If you’re struggling with this syndrome, we want to help you. Our outpatient continued care program is perfect for you. Contact us at Wellness Retreat Recovery Center so we can start working together on your recovery today.