In sobriety, the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors show significant change along with total absenteeism from alcohol consumption. However, this is not the case always. Sometimes a person even though does not consume alcohol, may act or behave obsessively and compulsively. Such a situation can be called dry drunk syndrome. Here, the person has overcome physical dependency on alcohol but is not able to lead a healthy recovery.

"Dry drunk syndrome" term is usually not used by the mental health professionals rather a term called "patient at high risk for relapse or a slip" is used in general to indicate such a situation.

A person with the dry drunk condition may exhibit the following couple of symptoms:   

  • Low tolerance to stress in the form of irritation and frustration   
  • Impulsive and egocentric behavior
  • Restlessness      
  • Getting nostalgic about old drinking days    
  • Negative thoughts and attitude
  • Loss of interest
  • Denial patterns        
  • Temper tantrums        
  • Unhealthy pattern of communication      
  • Isolation
  • Self-pity

Usually, a person with dry drunk syndrome may try to avoid - treatment follow-ups, AA/NA fellowship meetings, talking and discussing issues with his family and closed ones.

What causes dry drunk syndrome?   

  • Not able to follow the instructions given by the rehab center post discharge     
  • Not able to let go of negative thoughts
  • Life stress
  • Holding unrealistic and overestimated expectations from self and others
  • Not able to use healthy coping behaviors
  • Harboring self-willed behavior

Can one deal with a dry drunk syndrome?

Yes, dry drunk syndrome can be dealt in the following ways:     

  • Restart the follow-up with the mental health professional 
  • Restart revising relapse prevention plan set by the rehab center
  • Rejoin the AA/NA fellowship meetings
  • Set or adjust to real and specific expectations related to initial recovery, in the form of short term goals

To conclude, dry drunk syndrome may be obvious to occur during recovery and it does not necessarily mean that one has lost the chance of sobriety. It only means that one should identify it on time, take the appropriate measures and get back on the track of healthy recovery.