Some of us may put down the drink or drug solely using willpower, aka “white-knuckling” it. They may even succeed for months or even years in doing so, to the extent they feel cured. Often times, however, the lifestyle and extreme baggage that goes along with having a drug or alcohol problem remains despite the absence of the substance.
This phenomenon is known as Dry Drunk Syndrome and is typically defined as someone who has yet to achieve true sobriety – despite being dry of substances.
What is Dry Drunk Syndrome?
Dry drunk syndrome highlights one of the most unusual characteristics of alcoholism and drug addiction. While on the surface it appears that the drugs and alcohol are the main problem with those suffering from substance abuse issues, in fact they are often but a symptom of a greater problem.
The early founders of Alcoholic’s Anonymous noted that the common treatment for a drunkard was to simply dry them out in a detox, and release them back into the streets. Not surprisingly, the success rate before the creation of AA was nearly zero. Clearly a problem with these people existed that was not solved simply by removing the substance.
The founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, Bill W., was repeatedly detoxed and placed back on the streets – only to relapse after seemingly smaller periods of time with each detox. It was only when a man shared with him ideas that would become the foundation of the twelve steps did he find true sobriety, that lasted his entire life.
The twelve steps can be summarized as “trust god, clean house, and help others”. It is through this combination of reflection, action, and continuing action, that the alcoholic/drug addict achieves sobriety versus just being dry from the substance.
One of the defining characteristics of an alcoholic/drug addict is the crippling lifelong obsession with the substance. This obsession does not seem to dissipate for the vast majority of dry drunks, no matter how long the period away from the substance. Instead, it takes a new outlook on life provided by the twelve steps, followed by maintenance of this outlook by passing the message on to others.
This article is intended for those considering a new way of life, free of the pain of drug and alcohol addiction. For more information on recovery and anyone seeking help with addiction and substance abuse problems, please call True Recovery at (844) 744-8783 or visit us online.