Dry Drunk Syndrome: Know the Signs

Dry drunk syndrome

Dry drunk syndrome, also known as post-acute withdrawal syndrome, is a condition that can develop after someone addicted to alcohol stops drinking. It refers to a set of negative behaviors and attitudes. A “dry drunk” may also act drunk while they’re sober and in active recovery, which can have negative effects on their professional and personal lives.

Alcoholism is a disease that creates a chemical imbalance in the brain. This imbalance can severely impact someone’s physical, mental and emotional health for months or even years after they stop drinking. Experiencing a dry drunk symptom is a red flag that a relapse is potentially coming.

Signs and symptoms of dry drunk syndrome

The most common symptoms of dry drunk syndrome in an actively recovering alcoholic include:

  • Aggressive or impulsive behavior
  • Difficulty sleeping or insomnia
  • Dishonesty
  • Irritability
  • Lethargy
  • Replacing one addiction for another (e.g., gambling)
  • Wobbling, stumbling or slurred speech

How to cope with dry drunk syndrome

If you are in active recovery and suspect you may be experiencing symptoms of dry drunk syndrome, remember it’s part of the recovery process for some people. Here are a few things you can do to help manage your symptoms and minimize their impact on your recovery:

  • Connect with others
    Talk to friends, family members and your sponsor about what you’re experiencing to help them understand your distress and garner their empathy and support when you need it most.
  • Practice self-care
    Self-care can help you cope with many of life’s challenges. Try to do a few things every day to help your mind, body and soul feel good, like outdoor activities, physical exercise, socializing, staying hydrated and getting plenty of restful sleep.
  • Create new coping methods
    These can be as simple as setting aside time every day for your favorite hobby or activity (e.g., painting, drawing, reading, gardening, home improvement projects and solo or team sports).
  • Get professional help
    Addiction is a disease. It’s important to seek the help you need to stay on track with your recovery, whether that’s through talking to a trusted friend or sponsor, attending intensive outpatient rehab, individual or group therapy or a 12-step program.

Recovery is a difficult journey, but you don’t have to do it alone. The clinical team at Miramar Recovery Center is ready to help you navigate any challenges along the way—no matter what stage of recovery you’re in. Your successful and ongoing recovery is our top priority. If you or a loved one is in active recovery and experiencing symptoms of dry drunk syndrome, call (949) 691-5036 to find a location near you. Ask about our outpatient rehab program. We want to help you work through any worrisome symptoms you may be experiencing and provide the clinical relapse prevention and support you need to stay on track.


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