The Dry Drunk, Explained

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dry drunk

Taking the brave first steps towards recovery for an alcoholic by quitting the bottle is a daunting and impressive feat by any means. However, true recovery for an alcoholic is much more than just not drinking every day. The journey to find long term healing in recovery goes beyond this and requires addressing the emotional issues that lead to addiction in the first place. When a person does not take this extra step to address their emotional baggage, an issue known as “dry drunk syndrome” may emerge.

Defining the ‘Dry Drunk’

Dry drunk syndrome happens when a recovering alcoholic still carries with them the emotional issues that lead to their addiction. Dry drunk syndrome is more commonly seen in individuals in recovery who chose not to seek any professional help or formal programs for their addiction, so they never received the proper guidance that these programs offer to help them navigate the complexities of their significant life change. 

Their many negative behaviors demonstrate the unaddressed emotional baggage ‘dry drunks’ harbor. Strained relationships are a common display of ‘dry drunk’ syndrome, specifically by showing feelings of anger, resentment, or jealousy towards others not struggling with addiction. Dry drunks may also substitute new vices in place of their previous alcohol addiction, be plagued by anxiety and depression, or be self-obsessed.

Is Dry Drunk Syndrome Only for Alcohol Abuse?

While the terminology of “dry drunk” is sometimes ridiculed in the addiction community, the phenomenon is still valid and is not limited to individuals in recovery for alcohol use; drug users may also exhibit the same negative mentality as alcoholics in dry drunk syndrome. However, there’s good news for individuals who suffer from dry drunk syndrome. These negative behaviors can be remedied by the appropriate treatments like therapy or a 12-Step Program. Since in these treatments the individual confronts the root emotions causing them to turn to alcohol in the first place, those suffering from dry drunk syndrome can overcome their harmful behaviors by addressing the root cause of their addiction.


Dry drunk syndrome creates strain in relationships and makes long term recovery increasingly difficult. It’s never too late to get the help you need in your addiction recovery. If you or someone you know is being affected by dry drunk syndrome, contact Avalon Malibu for treatment options. At Avalon, we offer comprehensive treatment options that will allow you to address the underlying emotions fueling your addiction. Call us today at (844) 857-5992 and you can overcome the dry drunk mentality and be on the road to optimal well-being. 

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