Substance Use

Dry Drunk: What To Know

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Dry drunk is a term used to describe someone who is no longer drinking but still has the same behaviors and problems as when they were drinking. Being a dry drunk can be very dangerous for the individual and those around them. Below we will discuss dry drunk syndrome and how to deal with it if you or someone you know is suffering from it.

What is Dry Drunk Syndrome?

Dry drunk syndrome is a condition that occurs in individuals who are no longer drinking but have not addressed the underlying issues that led to their initial alcohol abuse. Alcohol abuse is a complex issue, and there is still much we do not understand. However, we know that alcohol abuse is often a coping mechanism for individuals struggling with underlying mental health issues or substance use disorders. When someone stops drinking, they may no longer have the numbing effect of alcohol to help them cope with their problems, and this can lead to them feeling agitated, irritable, and even paranoid.

If the individual was an alcoholic for many years, they may also suffer from physical symptoms such as anxiety, insomnia, and shaking. These symptoms occurring over a long period can cause the body to recognize this state as the new normal, making it difficult for the person to function without alcohol as it has become a dependency.

As a result, the dry drunk syndrome is often characterized by a return of those same side effects and problems that the person experienced while drinking. It is important to note that dry drunk syndrome is not a medical diagnosis. Still, it is a term used to describe the behaviors and problems that can occur in someone who has stopped their alcohol addiction but has not yet addressed their underlying issues.

For those suffering from dry drunk syndrome, seeking help from treatment facilities is essential. Without addressing these issues, the person is likely to return to alcoholism or develop other problems. Zinnia Healing is one of the leading treatment centers in the U.S. that offers a variety of programs to help those suffering from dry drunk syndrome, as well as other psychological issues.

The Symptoms of Dry Drunk Syndrome

Symptoms can vary but are similar to those experienced by individuals suffering from addiction or alcoholism. These symptoms can include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Anger
  • Paranoia
  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations

Causes of Dry Drunk Syndrome

There are many different causes of dry drunk syndrome. Some of these include:

  • Mental health problems: Many individuals who suffer from dry drunk syndrome also have underlying addiction or mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, or PTSD.
  • Trauma: Traumatic events can lead to alcoholism and the dry drunk syndrome. The individual may have stopped drinking to cope with the trauma but has not yet addressed the emotional damage.
  • Emotional difficulties: Emotional difficulties, such as low self-esteem or problems with relationships, can also lead to dry drunk syndrome. The individual may have initially kicked their alcoholism to cope with these difficulties but did not do it sustainably or healthily.
  • Not tapering off: Tapering is the process of slowly reducing alcohol consumption to prevent alcohol withdrawal symptoms. If an individual stops drinking alcohol suddenly, they may be more likely to experience the dry drunk syndrome because the body cannot adjust to sudden changes.

Treatment for Dry Drunk Syndrome

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the treatment for dry drunk syndrome will vary depending on the individual’s situation. However, some of the most common treatments include:

  • Counseling or therapy: Counseling or therapy can help the individual address the underlying issues that led to their alcoholism in the first place. Counseling can be very beneficial in preventing a relapse. Therapy can also help the individual learn healthy coping skills for dealing with difficult emotions.
  • Support groups: Though sober, the individual may feel isolated and alone. Support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-step programs can help provide emotional support and a sense of community and belonging. By sharing their experiences of addiction with others, the individual can gain insight and understanding.
  • Medication: In some cases, medication may be necessary to help the individual cope with underlying mental illness. Medication is something that should be discussed with a doctor or psychiatrist.
  • Alternative therapies: Many different therapies can benefit the dry drunk syndrome. Some of these treatment programs include yoga, meditation, and acupuncture. 

If you or someone you know is struggling with dry drunk syndrome, it is essential to seek help. With so many different treatment providers available, it may seem overwhelming. However, healthcare centers like Zinnia Healing can provide the resources and support you need to recover.

Zinnia Healing specializes in addiction treatment and offers counseling, medication, and alternative therapies. If you or someone you know is struggling with the dry drunk syndrome, please reach out for help.

What loved ones can do to help

If you have a loved one suffering from alcoholism or dry drunk syndrome, there are some things you can do to help. Actionable things you can do are:

  • Encourage them to seek help: If your loved one suffers from dry drunk syndrome, it is essential to encourage them to seek help. A stigma is often attached to addiction or mental health, making it difficult for people to seek help. However, reminding them there is no shame in seeking help is essential.
  • Offer assistance: You may also want to offer assistance to your loved one. Assistance could involve helping them with day-to-day tasks or providing transportation to appointments.
  • Listen: One of the most important things you can do is simply listen. Listening means being a sounding board for your loved one. They may need to vent their frustrations or talk about their experiences. Just being there to listen can be very beneficial.
  • Be patient: Recovery is a process, and it can take time. It is essential to be patient with your loved ones and to understand that they may have setbacks. Just remind them that you are there for them and support their recovery.

Prevention of Dry Drunk Syndrome

While treatment is necessary, prevention is also vital. If you can prevent alcoholism or dry drunk syndrome from occurring in the first place, it will be much easier to manage potential symptoms. Some prevention tips include:

  • Identifying triggers: One of the best things you can do is identify triggers. Understanding these triggers means being aware of the things that may have caused you to start drinking in the first place. Once you know your triggers, you can develop a plan for how to deal with them.
  • Building a support system: It is also essential to build a support system. Systems could involve family, friends, or even a support group. Having people who understand what you are going through can be very helpful.
  • Developing healthy coping skills: Another essential thing you can do is develop healthy coping skills. Discovering different coping methods means finding ways to deal with difficult emotions that do not involve alcohol. Some healthy coping skills include exercise, journaling, and meditation.


The dry drunk syndrome can be a complex condition to manage, both for the individual suffering from it and their loved ones. However, with alcoholism treatment and support, it is possible to overcome this syndrome and live a healthy, sober life. Many addiction treatments for dry drunk syndrome are available, including counseling or therapy, support groups, medication, and alternative therapies. If you or a loved one suffers from dry drunk syndrome, it is vital to seek help.

Zinnia Healing can provide the resources and support needed during the recovery process to overcome this condition. Visit our website or give us a call today at (855) 430-9439 to learn more.

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