dry drunk condition rehab in California

Dry Drunk: Helping Your Loved on Stay on the Path of Sobriety

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

One Day at a Time

In the world of addiction treatment, twelve-step programs urge recovering addicts to take their sobriety “One day at a time.” For the newly sober, each and every day can be a struggle. We often choose to focus on the initial process of rehabilitation without acknowledging the fact that sobriety is an ongoing battle that extends far past the first stages of a residential rehabilitation program. You or your loved one may have shed their alcohol addiction and may be 3 months sober when suddenly they begin to feel anger, restlessness, and anxiety creep back in. This is a serious condition known as “dry drunk.”

What Is Dry Drunk?

There is a difference between being sober and being in recovery. Being sober involves the physical act of sobriety, which means you’re no longer actively drinking. “In recovery” means engaging in an ongoing program of therapy and self-evaluation aimed at treating the underlying reasons behind your alcohol addiction, not just the outward symptom of alcohol abuse.

These two components serve as halves of a greater whole. Without therapeutic treatment of the underlying mental and emotional factors that influence your addictive behavior, you are only partially sober.

Dry drunk occurs when someone kicks the physical habit of drinking without addressing the emotional and mental factors that lie beneath. Their body is clean and free of alcohol, but they haven’t resolved the issues that made them drink in the first place.

What Are the Symptoms of Dry Drunk?

Although it is most common in the immediate months following rehab, the dry drunk condition can occur anytime for a recovering alcoholic. Alcoholism is often the result of maladjusted habits and methods for dealing with stress and anxiety. A recovering alcoholic must erase old habits and develop new strategies for dealing with stress in order for their recovery to be successful.

If a recovering addict doesn’t take the proper steps to form new habits, the following symptoms can occur:

  • A sense of self-importance or narcissism
  • Being overly judgmental towards themselves or their loved ones
  • Increased impatience, anxiety, or depression
  • Sudden mood swings
  • Impulsive or dangerous behavior
  • Romanticizing alcohol and the time period when they used to drink
  • Indecisiveness
  • Withdrawing from, or dropping out of, twelve-step programs and other ongoing treatments

The dry drunk condition can make life awful not only the recovering alcoholic, but also their friends, family, and other members of their support system. Beyond the draining aspect of a dry drunk’s attitude lies a very serious danger. A dry drunk is at an increased risk of relapse. The condition serves as a clear precursor to the recovering alcoholic breaking their sobriety.

How Is Dry Drunk Condition Treated?

The good news is that dry drunk is a treatable condition. It requires a two-pronged approach from family, friends, and the alcoholic’s wider support system.

First, the alcoholic must make a renewed effort to engage in therapy. From attending twelve-step programs to reaching out to professional therapists, counselors, and recovery resources, the alcoholic needs to re-engage with their recovery effort and most importantly, involve others.

While the recovering alcoholic rededicates themselves to their recovery efforts, family and friends can help them by focusing their loved one’s attention on positive, meaningful activities and hobbies. This can help the recovering alcoholic to develop good habits while discharging negative energy associated with their disease.

Continuing Rehab With First Steps Recovery Fresno, CA

People who suffer from the dry drunk condition have a tendency to withdraw from their normal daily life and isolate themselves from their friends and family. As their depressive symptoms increase, their world becomes small and self-centered. Old, unresolved issues that originally lead to their alcohol addiction return.

The professional counselors and therapists at First Steps Recovery can help struggling alcoholics return to a path of meaningful, effective recovery. If you or someone you know in the Fresno, California area is struggling with sobriety, please reach out to us today and get the help you need to lead a healthy, alcohol-free life.

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