You may have heard the term dry drunk talked about at meetings. Maybe someone has called you a dry drunk. But what is a dry drunk?
A dry drunk is someone who is still exhibiting some of the symptoms and behaviors of drinking while abstaining from actually drinking alcohol. Remember that alcohol is both a physical and spiritual malady. Just because we treat the physical part by not drinking doesn’t mean that we can ignore the spiritual part.
So what do we mean by exhibiting the symptoms and behaviors of drinking? Some of these might include but are not limited to, grandiosity, short-temperedness, ineffective or strained relations, acting out with other addictions, lying, cheating and stealing.
Just because we have turned off the supply of alcohol doesn’t mean that we don’t need to tend to the mess that it has made for us both internally and externally. This is the paradox of sobriety. Stopping drinking can often lead to things improving so well in our external worlds that we feel there is no need to clean up our internal mess. This is not the case and can lead to more heartache down the road if we are not careful.
Also it’s important to note that getting a little “dry” doesn’t mean that we are a failure. It just needs that maybe we need to start working our program more in earnest. It doesn’t mean we’re not sober. We don’t have to reset our sobriety date. It’s just a way of saying hey dude you didn’t get sober to keep acting like a jerk. So maybe take a look at the way things are going.
So if you’ve been called “dry” by someone or maybe you just think you are, here are some things you can do:
1. Double up on your meetings. Or start going back altogether. One of the first questions we would ask someone who might be a little dry is when was the last time you went to a meeting. Oftentimes, they have stopped or they’re not going enough. Remember that we have a condition that is chronic and lifelong from which we have a daily reprieve.
2. Call your sponsor and do an inventory. If you’re dry you are probably carrying around a lot of resentments. Get them down on paper and get them out.
3. Reconnect with sober friends. Dry drunk syndrome thrives in isolation as does many other manifestations of alcoholism. Get out there and mix it up with your friends and have a few laughs. It is also important to surround ourselves with people who have integrity and know us well enough to call us out on our behavior should we start to act differently or out of character.
4. Read the literature. Bill’s story is a good place to start.
5. Pick yourself up and keep trying. Don’t give up on the program if it’s not “working for you.” We all have slumps. Keep trying and keep coming back.
The antidote to a dry drunk is working the steps, connecting with other alcoholics and going to meetings. We all get a little dry sometimes. You are not alone.