You’ve poured the last of the liquor down the drain. You’ve stayed away from bars. You have quit hanging around with your drinking companions. Still, you are irritable with your family and friends. You snap at your work colleagues. You feel exhausted. You find yourself isolating, and therefore, depressed. This is the world of the “dry drunk.” Sobriety means more than putting down the drink. It is more than what is called the “white knuckle” approach, which means depending entirely on will power and refusing to change anything in one’s lifestyle. This leads in turn to the “dry drunk,” a life of anger and resentment that a recovering alcoholic can ill afford. Hanging on to old ways of thinking prevents emotional sobriety.

Grieving the loss of alcohol

Alcoholics are not accustomed to recognizing their feelings and dealing with them. They have reached for the bottle instead, ignoring their emotional problems. For an alcoholic, giving up drinking is like losing a best friend. It is normal to go through the stages of grieving, just as one would do with the death of a loved one. Breaking through denial and acknowledging the feelings of anger and depression are a start in achieving emotional sobriety. This is a lifelong process, but a process worth doing in order to live a happy and sober life.

“Dry drunk” affects others

Because alcoholism is a physical, mental and spiritual problem, full recovery needs to deal with all those aspects. Each part needs attention, or the “dry drunk” occurs. It can affect not only the alcoholic, but also the alcoholic’s family and friends. An article in Psychology Today lists six situations that can cause relationship difficulties:
  • Resentment at a spouse, parent or whomever has made them “stop drinking or else.”
  • Annoyed and frustrated with the realization that they can't drink like a "normie" or ever again.
  • Realizing that because of their drinking, they may have not realized goals, dreams and potentials and wondering if it's too late, or if they are even capable of achieving those goals or dreams.
  • Having to accept and take responsibility for the wasted years due to drinking without an excuse or justification.
  • Anxiety about venturing out or challenging himself for fear of failure. The alcoholic may not have had any normal life experience with failure and success, which in turn would make them stronger and wiser. Instead those years were void of dealing with life on life's terms due to the alcoholic addiction.
  • Jealousy of others for their stick-to-itiveness, perseverance and strength. Resenting the family member or friend for their dreams and punishing them by not being supportive, questioning their ability and striving to clip their wings of creativity.
The “dry drunk” is a normal but preventable part of recovering from the grips of alcoholism. Talking with other sober alcoholics and seeking professional help if needed will change the course.
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