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Dry Drunk Syndrome: What it is, and How to Treat It

dry drunk syndrome

If you’ve noticed that your loved one isn’t quite the way they used to be, this article’s for you. We’ll explain “dry drunk syndrome” and help you find long-term treatment for people with drug and alcohol addiction.

Are you worried about a friend or family member who’s suffering from alcohol addiction? Do they seem angry or depressed, even though they’re not drinking anymore?


There are almost 10 million men and 5 million women who binge drink. That’s not counting the underage drinkers or the people who don’t report their addiction.

What can be confusing is that people can lash out when they stop drinking. They can be aggressive, angry, and hurtful.

What is Dry Drunk Syndrome?

The term “dry drunk” means that a person has stopped drinking but still acts like a stereotypical alcoholic: unreliable, impatient, angry, and self-isolating.

Dry drunk syndrome is a psychological and emotional condition. It means that a person is experiencing the after-effects of years of alcohol addiction.

They may be angry because they’ve lost so much money to their addiction over the years. They may be sad because they’ve let important relationships fall to the wayside.

Not drinking doesn’t seem like a big deal to someone who doesn’t drink, but drinking may have been your loved one’s main leisure activity and social outlet.

People who are recovering from an alcohol addiction may be angry at job opportunities they’ve missed or trips they didn’t take. Alcohol addiction can cost thousands of dollars each year, especially if they drink at bars.

Symptoms of a Dry Alcoholic Personality

Psychologically, a dry alcoholic can be fragile. They should explore their illness and recovery with the help of a therapist, but not everyone wants to go to therapy.

People who have completed a detox from alcohol can be physically exhausted as well. Alcohol withdrawal can include vomiting, sweating, hallucinations, and even seizures.

If your loved one seems to be lashing out right after the detox, they’re probably exhausted. You may have a lot of sympathy for your friend or family member, but it’s okay to want a bit of distance as well.

The problem with dry drunk syndrome is that it can continue for months or years after detox is complete. Until and unless addicts deal with their emotional and psychological problems, they will continue to act out in a destructive way.

How to Deal with a Dry Drunk

If you’re wondering how to deal with a dry drunk, the answer is patience and understanding. It can be hard to relate if you’ve never struggled with addiction.

It’s worth it to try to get through to your friend or loved one. They may not want to talk about their addiction, or they may start reminiscing about all the times they drank.

Dry drunk syndrome is not always predictable. Experts recommend that treatment include going to therapy and AA meetings.

If you’ve never been to an AA meeting, you should know that you’re allowed to go to support your friend. People share their stories of recovery, their relapses, and their journey towards health.

Your friend or loved one doesn’t have to stand up and share if they don’t want to. It might just be enough to be surrounded by people who understand them.

People who are recovering from an alcohol addiction can find friendship and support at these meetings. They can also connect with a mentor, a person with several years of sobriety who provides a listening ear.

Is My Family Member Addicted to Alcohol?

If you suspect that your friend or family member is still using alcohol, there are some signs that can help you spot the addiction.

They may joke around about their drinking, but get angry if you try to have a serious conversation. They don’t necessarily have to drink for hours at a time, but they probably drink every day.

They might also have a very high tolerance for alcohol, which they’ve developed over many years as an addict. You may be surprised at the alcohol tolerance that some underage drinkers have.

Anything more than five drinks at a time for men could be an indicator of hidden alcoholism. For women, anything more than four drinks at a time or eight drinks during the course of a week could point to an addiction.

If you or a loved one “blacks out” after several drinks, that’s also an indication of alcohol addiction. Missing work due to hangovers and over-spending at bars can also indicate a problem with alcohol.

How Likely is a Relapse?

About half of all people with an alcohol addiction relapse in the first 12 months. That’s not a reason to avoid detoxing, but it is a reminder that support systems are urgently needed.

When you talk to friends or loved ones who struggle with addiction, try to focus on their goals. Look for the positive steps they have taken to improve their lives but understand that you might have to go through a detox process again.

If you or a loved one needs treatment for alcohol addiction, it’s time to find a detox center that can work with you.

Get Started with a Detox and Treatment Plan

In a strange way, dry drunk syndrome is a positive step towards healing. Your friend or loved one has stopped drinking and is now facing life without the protection of alcohol.

Getting away from alcohol means that your loved one has to change their entire life. They may have to make new friends and imagine a new future for themselves.

We have a comprehensive detox program that includes massage, aromatherapy, and medication. We offer nutritious meals that are prepared by a personal chef, and we offer luxurious accommodations for our clients.

Detox is all about clarity. We help you get back to who you were before you started drinking. We can also help you transition back into your normal life.

No matter who you are, you deserve to experience hope and forgiveness. Send us an email or give us a call and we can arrange a confidential tour of our facility.