Detox without Treatment = Dry Drunk Syndrome
Many individuals addicted to alcohol think that they can get sober by detox alone. The long and painful withdrawal should be enough to never go back, right? In most cases, it’s not. Treatment for alcoholism goes much farther than refraining from drinking, it’s about discovering underlying causes of addiction and confronting them. Those that abuse alcohol do so to run and hide from emotions they don’t want to feel, boost self-esteem, or just simply escape from the monotony of life. Without addressing the reasons why a person seeks to drink, they are likely to hold resentment and anger about quitting. Those who refrain from drinking yet still retain thoughts and behaviors of an addict are said to experience “dry drunk syndrome”.
What is Dry Drunk Syndrome?
If you’ve ever been to rehab, you know the dry drunk. They’ve stopped drinking, but act like treatment is hell on earth. The only change that is present in their life is the removal of alcohol, yet they still keep the same tendencies and behaviors as if they were drinking. They are unable to see the positive side of recovery, so they choose to dwell in the past and hold anger for having to sober up. The dry drunk may be unresponsive during meetings or therapy sessions and seek isolation in treatment. The term dry drunk originated from common 12-step programs. The term identifies those who refused to walk away from their addictive behaviors.
Grieving the Loss of Alcohol
For many, dry drunk syndrome develops at the very start of sobriety. They look back at their life and realize that alcohol was woven into the fiber of their being. Resentment can sprout in these individuals for realizing what they’re giving up, and that they can no longer depend on the bottle for emotional support. Grieving the loss of alcohol is a real thing for these addicts, as they have become dependent over the years. Anger arises through this grief, and for the dry drunk, it may never leave. Treatment can provide strategies and methods to attaining acceptance of the loss of the alcoholic lifestyle and prepare a person to live without their dependence to drinking.
Characteristics Seen in the Dry Drunk
- Those with dry drunk syndrome tend to build resentment towards an individual that has suggested that they seek drug or alcohol addiction treatment.
- Individuals feel broken and burdened by the complete responsibility they must take to remain sober.
- They remain angry that they cannot drink to release stress or numb problems as they used to.
- They develop anger towards people that can handle sobriety with more ease and also hold resentment for those that can drink without fearing addiction.
- The dry drunk will be unwilling to take risks, as the fear that without alcohol they will have nowhere to turn upon failure.
- They deny and are unhappy with the fact that their addiction to alcohol has stolen from their potential to succeed in life.
Get the Most out of Treatment
So, how does one prevent dry drunk syndrome during recovery from drugs or alcohol? It starts by making a decision that when you detox, you will also enter treatment. Detox alone will not give a recovering individual the necessary tools to deal with emotions that are underlying causes for addiction. Additionally, treatment will provide much-needed information about how to copy with stress after leaving the facility. Treatment provides a community of support, guided therapy sessions, and useful education that detox cannot provide by itself. Along with deciding to go to treatment, an individual in recovery treatment can practice a few techniques to prevent dry drunk syndrome including:
Developing a hobby: Keep your mind active so that you are not focusing on resentment and anger throughout recovery. You can play the guitar, join a gym or read at your local library.
Meditate: This peaceful state will give you some self-perspective so that you can sort out your emotions. Ask yourself if you are holding yourself accountable for your actions. Focus on accepting the things that you cannot change in your life. Meditation can bring a sense of inner peace, along with giving you some quality “me time”.
Focus on your health: A healthy diet and exercise are shown to improve moods; it’s also particularly helpful for people in addiction recovery. Additionally, drugs and alcohol take a toll on the body, so it doesn’t hurt to help the immune system fight back during recovery.
Get support: Don’t be afraid to share your emotions with others, especially peers that know what you are going through and counselors that can guide you. Having an ear to listen can reduce stress levels and give you another perspective. Also, having supportive people around will motivate your recovery and allow you to prevent boredom and loneliness.