What is a dry drunk?

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Emotional Work Key to Avoiding a Dry Drunk Behavior

When your loved one stops drinking, you may be thrilled, but you may also be confused if you notice signs of continued dysfunctional behavior, such as chronic irritation or annoyance, continued raging or secretive conduct. Those could be the signs of a dry drunk.

When a person stops abusing alcohol, many of the physical ailments accompanying the drinking are resolved, such as hangovers, lack of appetite, vomiting, black-outs, liver or heart problems. But according to Psychology Today, unless a recovered individual works on the emotional aspects that can trigger relapse, he or she may not be able to cope with the difficult feelings or situations that alcohol used to address. Unless new coping mechanisms are not only learned but used, an individual addicted to alcohol may wind up acting the same way as when actively drinking, engaging in dry drunk behavior.

What to Do When Facing a Dry Drunk

When facing a dry drunk, it can be hard to know what to do. You may be tempted to nag, browbeat and criticize, which may be what you did when your loved one was abusing alcohol. That would make two of you acting out in dysfunctional ways. It’s why your own program of recovery, such as Alanon or therapy, are helpful while your loved one is drinking, recovering, or engaging in dry drunk behavior. It’s important to detach from the behavior as much as possible and live your own life as fully as you can.

Many dry drunks drink again and have to go through the process of overcoming denial once more, reaching out for help, and perhaps facing treatment for the first time. Some have to return to treatment multiple times if they haven’t picked up the stress management tools provided the first time around. It’s painful to watch someone you love or admire go through the throes of a dry drunk, and it’s annoying, as well. But for those who love an alcoholic, patience is sometimes the most important virtue. Step back and allow your loved one to find his or her own bottom, which may be difficult, but which is the straightest path to recovery.

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