What is a Dry Drunk? Symptoms, Causes, and Relapse Prevention

What is a Dry Drunk? Symptoms, Causes, and Relapse Prevention

The name of the syndrome may sound like an oxymoron, but Dry Drunk is very real and common.

The term is used to describe someone who has stayed away from alcohol for some time but continues to behave as if they are still addicted. This happens because the person hasn’t made the needed behavioral and/or emotional changes, or they’ve regressed to old mindsets. If it’s not addressed, it can contribute to someone to relapse.

Recovery is not a process that is completed with abstinence. It is also newly learned attitudes and behaviors that offer quality of life and hope for and often in recovery.  Here’s what you need to know about Dry Drunk.

What are the symptoms?

Dry Drunk is mainly behavioral, meaning, someone in recovery is struggling to cope with life stressors. They can also regress to being impulsive and engage in risky and unhealthy behavior. Some people might even romanticize alcohol or become nostalgic about the “good old drinking days.” Their attitude becomes constantly negative and they often feel miserable.


  • Exhibiting low tolerance for stress
  • Displaying impulsivity
  • Risky behavior
  • Lack of interest in previously cherished activities
  • Harboring negative thoughts
  • Self-pity
  • Denying that your life needs to change
  • Blaming others

How can you avoid it?

To avoid being a Day Drunk while in recovery, be aware of the symptoms listed above. The sooner you spot them, the easier it will be to avoid a relapse. If you haven’t already attended therapy or counseling that’s focused on people who abuse alcohol, you should find appropriate help.

Recovery isn’t a one-man job either. Having constant support from a 12-step or non-12-step program can help you learn tips and tricks from people who’ve overcome the same obstacles you may be facing.

Remember that recovery is a commitment to life that you must continuously work towards. Adjust your expectations of what “recovery” is if you are stuck. Always correct your course.

If you feel you or a loved one is experiencing Dry Drunk behavior patterns, contact us today.


What are the causes?

Dry Drunk Syndrome is usually caused by not focusing on your mental or emotional recovery. You may think that there isn’t anything to do or love since you stopped drinking, which causes you to stop working on your recovery plan. Not drinking becomes the only focus.


  • Not being able to alter behavioral responses
  • Becoming very negative
  • Returning to a life full of stressors
  • Not following your recovery plan
  • Stop attending support meetings
  • Unrealistic assumptions of recovery
  • Not understanding Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome



Aurora Recovery Centre’s philosophies are consistently reflected in the way we value our members and staff. Everything we do is in the interest of our members’ recovery for life.

Aurora’s treatment process is built upon a member-first culture and stands on three pillars that reflect our philosophy toward our members’ recovery: Heal, Connect and Recover.

Our modern world-class facilities are located on the serene western shore of Lake Winnipeg, accompanied by miles of wooded trails and breathtaking sunrises, with amenities that support healing.

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