The Dangers of Dry Drunk Syndrome: Understanding the Warning Signals of an Approaching Relapse

Dry Drunk Syndrome is something that is much debated among recovering alcoholics and addiction specialists. There are different views about what these symptoms actually mean or even if there is such a thing as a “dry drunk.” Most would agree, though, that there are usually certain warning signs that occur prior to relapse and if these can be spotted and dealt with then relapse may be prevented.

What is Dry Drunk Syndrome?

Dry Drunk Syndrome is often used to refer to people who are exhibiting many of the same behaviors as a drunk even though they are no longer drinking. Or to put it another way, they are no longer drinking but are not acting sober. This type of behavior could include such things as:

  • constantly complaining about their recovery and appearing overly cynical
  • attempting to justify or downplay their former addictive behavior
  • constantly full of self-pity
  • a lot of anger about being classed as an addict
  • no interest in trying anything new
  • hanging around bars and spending a lot of time watching other people drink
  • always thinking about the good times they had drinking; this is called “romancing the drink”
  • blaming other people for all their current and past problems
  • continued manipulative behavior
  • secretive behavior and isolating from people around them

Exhibiting these symptoms does not necessarily mean that a person is a dry drunk; most recovering addicts will have bad days now and again. Dry drunk syndrome is more to do with a set of negative behaviors that continue over a period of time.

The Importance of Spotting the Signs of Dry Drunk Syndrome

Those exhibiting the signs of dry drunk syndrome may be at increased risk of relapse and this is why understanding what is going on is important. Becoming sober does not turn people into saints and many will continue to have personal issues just like everyone else. However, those experiencing a dry drunk are unlikely to find much satisfaction in recovery and so are at a high risk of relapse unless a change of course is initiated.

In many instances the symptoms of dry drunk can be a great tool because they warn people that they are taking a wrong turn in their recovery and this can encourage them to get back on path. If the symptoms are taking seriously and treated then it can lead to an even stronger recovery afterwards. The real problem occurs when people ignore what is going on and allow things to deteriorate.

Dry drunk syndrome is a group of symptoms that may warn of an approaching addiction relapse. Spotting these symptoms may work a useful relapse prevention tool.

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