Author: James Anderson

What is a Dry Drunk? Dry Drunk Syndrome

what is a dry drunk

This can sometimes trigger renewed alcohol use, especially in the absence of more helpful coping techniques. Learning the symptoms of dry drunk syndrome as well as a few strategies to better cope can help you or someone you love to move past this stumbling block toward lasting recovery. Originally coined by the creators of Alcoholics Anonymous, dry drunk syndrome can have a negative impact on the process of giving up drinking both physically and mentally. Some people believe the term dry drunk is an inappropriate way to refer to a person who is trying to go through the process of alcohol recovery. Others think a dry drunk is a person who is sober but unwilling to commit to rehab or other forms of therapy.

A person in recovery should also try to focus on the progress that they have made so far. Relapse is something to regard as a temporary setback rather than a failure. If a person experiences symptoms of PAWS, they should not feel defeated. The experience of AUD recovery can vary significantly among individuals. There is no right or wrong way for a person to recover from AUD, so a person should not compare their recovery journey with that of other people. Participating in a recovery support program can provide support, clarity, and understanding into the underlying causes of addiction and how to manage them.

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The goal is to fill the time you once spent drinking with activities that are enjoyable and engrossing. A person dealing with side effects of PAWS actually may look like he’s intoxicated even though he’s been totally abstinent (which explains where the term “dry drunk” may come from). However, having symptoms of PAWS, which can last for up to 2 years following alcohol withdrawal, can put a person at higher risk of relapsing. The symptoms of PAWS can come and go, which may cause a person to believe that they are not making progress. We are dedicated to making alcoholism treatment accessible to every person in need and our admissions navigators are available 24/7 to discuss your options. Other groups include SMART Recovery and Secular Organizations for Sobriety.

what is a dry drunk

They may refer to these people as high-risk patients because they have a high risk of relapse into alcoholism. It is also recommended that if a person finds themselves struggling with the symptoms of dry alcoholic syndrome, they should seek professional help. People struggling with alcohol or drug addiction often have a dual diagnosis, meaning they struggle with mental health issues as well. These individuals will benefit from a rehab program that also offers mental health services. The entire issue with dry drunk syndrome is within the mind of the person in recovery. A person who strives to maintain sobriety can work to overcome this mentality of a dry drunk.

Get Healthy

Talking to loved ones about what you’re experiencing and sharing as much as you feel comfortable with can help them understand your distress. This can also help you reconnect and make it easier for them to offer empathy and support when your feelings and emotions trigger thoughts of drinking. In other words, someone who’s sober might still “act drunk” or deal with the same issues that led them to quit drinking in the first place. Now that you’re no longer drinking, you have a chance to embrace your sober life and redefine your passions. Now is the time to pursue those things you’ve always wanted to learn. There are also a few steps you can take on your own to start enjoying your new sober life as you work toward lasting recovery.

To a person who has struggled to obtain sobriety, this can be viewed as very disrespectful. One potential challenge involves “dry drunk syndrome,” a slang term that originated in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). It refers to traits and behaviors often seen with alcohol use that persist into recovery.

  1. Other times, a treatment center offers treatment options that aren’t quite a good fit for you or your loved one.
  2. It is important to learn how to manage stress, and develop a support system that can help when the stresses of life seem impossible to bear.
  3. A person experiencing symptoms of PAWS should not feel shame or discouragement.
  4. Other groups include SMART Recovery and Secular Organizations for Sobriety.
  5. Some people believe the term dry drunk is an inappropriate way to refer to a person who is trying to go through the process of alcohol recovery.
  6. Some folks assume that people showing signs of this syndrome are about to relapse and drink again, but this isn’t always the case.

They may seem simple and unsurprising, but they do work for many people. If a person has symptoms of PAWS, it does not mean that they are having a relapse. A relapse occurs when a person who has stopped drinking alcohol begins drinking again.

Any of these mutual-aid, or support groups, can be an important component of long-term recovery. The helpline at is available 24/7 to discuss the treatment needs of yourself or a loved one. This helpline is answered by Ark Behavioral Health, an addiction treatment provider with treatment facilities in Massachusetts and Ohio. Specialists are standing by to make sure we find an addiction treatment option that is a good fit for you or your loved one. After a loved one has stopped abusing alcohol, we sometimes expect the worst to be over. However, there can be very real concerns with relapse and how to help them manage their newfound sobriety.

A person who has PAWS may find it helpful to have the support of their loved ones. A person can also find more information about local treatment centers by using sites such as If a person does relapse, they should remember that relapse can be a normal part of recovery.

There are terms that people use that they never consider to be offensive, like alcoholic. Instead, we refer to someone as having an alcohol use disorder or struggling with alcoholism or alcohol addiction. If you’re already coping with depression or other mental health concerns, these symptoms might further complicate matters and make you feel even worse.

What are the symptoms?

Entering a substance abuse treatment program for an alcohol use disorder (aka alcoholism) is a significant step in the right direction. Admitting that a person’s alcohol abuse has become an alcohol dependency can be difficult and complicated. The best way to prevent and/or cope with the physical and mental symptoms of dry drunk syndrome is to stay steadfast in your recovery. The term dry drunk is one way to refer to a person who is sober but not fully committed to recovery from alcoholism. But calling people dry drunks may make them feel stigmatized or alienated. The thought and behavior changes that signify full recovery from alcoholism don’t always accompany sobriety.

If a person is unable to participate in those steps, it is possible for them to develop a dry alcoholic syndrome. It’s best to have some kind of extra support during recovery, whether that’s a 12-step program or a regular appointment with a therapist who specializes in addiction counseling. Other complex factors may also play a role, including underlying mental health issues or a lack of social support. A big part of recovery and your new sober life is making your physical health a priority. Try healthful recipes, join a gym, take up a sport, try yoga (which can have mental benefits as well as physical ones). A person experiencing symptoms of PAWS should not feel shame or discouragement.

Behavioral symptoms

Having helpful coping techniques in place can make it easier to manage distressing emotions and thoughts about drinking. It’s not always easy to open up about alcohol use and recovery, especially to people who don’t have any experience with it, but it’s a crucial part of the process. The characteristics of this phenomenon may share similarities with the feelings and behaviors you might experience while still drinking. Emotionally, a person dealing with PAWS may have mood swings and become depressed, making them tough to be around—maybe even as unpleasant as they might have been when they were drinking. Alcohol used to provide temporary relief from such feelings, but you can’t rely on that anymore.

If some time goes by and you still feel the same way, you can always give a different coping technique a try or explore a new hobby. This part of recovery is pretty common, even if people don’t recognize it as such or talk about it much. If you suspect you might be dealing with this syndrome, try not to be too hard on yourself. When talking to or about someone in recovery, avoid using this term. Take up gardening, start collecting an item you’re truly interested in or fascinated by, learn how to build things and focus on the creative project.