Are you making the mistake of living as a dry drunk?

Red Umbrella, 01/10/2014

Are you making the mistake of living as a dry drunk?


If you have stopped using alcohol or drugs, but are finding life tough and unfulfilling then you could be suffering from “dry drunk syndrome”. Here, we explain why it exists and how to recognise the signs.


“I actually preferred life with my husband when he was drinking”, a caller told us the other day. “Daily life was far from easy, but at least he was predictable. Now our relationship is in tatters and I just don’t know how he will react next, I think divorce is our only option.”


This is a typical “dry drunk” scenario. After 20 years of being married – the last ten saw the husband descend into alcoholism – this couple will more than likely separate unless the husband seeks professional help. Six months before he had quit alcohol thinking it would transform their failing marriage, but it actually had the opposite effect.


After making the courageous step to stop drinking or taking drugs, it is easy to think that you’ve won the battle. But really it is just the beginning.


What exactly is a dry drunk?


Removing the substance you’re dependent on, without addressing the underlying reasons for using it – and living “clean” or “dry” instead of “sober” – means your life will never be as happy as it could be. You’re officially in recovery, except you’re not actually recovering.


Many addicts use substances to mask negative feelings or aspects of their life that they aren’t content with. When you remove alcohol or drugs, you’re back to dealing with the same painful problems, with nothing to shield you from them.


When you escape addiction, without receiving treatment, negative emotions can return. It can feel like a new kind of hangover, but one without an end. You may be full of resentment and anger, and your family may feel you’re almost as hard to be around, if not harder, than when you were drinking or using drugs.


What are the symptoms of dry drunk syndrome?


  • You become restless and discontented – little things start to annoy you.
  • You becomebored and dissatisfied – the initial elation of recovery has been replaced by frustration.
  • You feel listless or over-react – you think that life is dull or explode angrily at an everyday situation.
  • You feel euphoric when you think about the days when you were using.
  • You lose your motivation for ongoing recovery and self-improvement.
  • You find that old attitudes are returning – maybe you think that you’ve been good for so long that one drink won’t hurt.


What to do if you are living “dry” not “sober”


It’s important to remember that recovery is not about returning to how life was before your addiction. Instead, it’s about starting a new way of life, and employing new skills and behaviors that ensure it is better than anything that went before.


You can’t eliminate stress from your life, it’s all part of the human condition. What you can do, however, is find new ways of coping with your problems that allow you to live a happy and positive life without feeling the need to return to the drugs you depended on.


Dealing with anxiety, depression, sadness, interacting with people all these are necessitates of daily life. Going through recovery and getting the right support will ensure you can deal with these difficulties and stay sober.

The problems from your past will take time and effort to resolve. So you shouldn’t beat yourself up if you’re finding your own personal battle a tough one. The most important thing to do is to seek help, so that you can start feeling happy as soon as possible.


At Red Umbrella, we understand how hard it is in recovery and want to help you find a way to live a positive and happy new life.


Give us a call on +44(0)300 002 0061 or send us a message through live chat to find out how we can help you leave dry drunk syndrome behind and get sober.