But quitting is only the first step. Sustained recovery is a multifaceted process that goes far beyond abstaining from mind altering substances. In the recovery community, someone who has stopped using, but has not addressed any of the underlying psychological issues is referred to as a “dry drunk”, a term coined by Alcoholics Anonymous.
Stress is a common thing in everyone’s life. Everyone has a different way of dealing with it, some meditate, others exercise but addicts use drugs and alcohol to escape. Many addicts use because they lack the coping skills to deal with stress. So by giving up drugs and alcohol, an addict is surrendering their go-to coping mechanism. They don’t have the ability to deal with issues that arise on a daily basis, they will often act out in anger and frustration.
Characteristics of a dry drunk:
- Denial that they are suffering emotional issues.
- Resentment towards their loved ones for making them stop using.
- Lack of interest in activities that they once enjoyed.
- Anger due to the lost years spent using.
- Fear that they are “out of time” and will never achieve their dreams.
- Refuse to ask for help from others.
- Frustration by their continued desire to use while lacking the coping skills to deal with these desires.
Living with a dry drunk is like walking on egg shells, never knowing when something you say or do will set them off. The first step to helping a dry drunk is to recognize the symptoms. If someone you know exhibits the characteristics above, then there’s a good chance that they have more work to do on themselves. Pacific Solstice can help you or a loved understand and work through the underlying issues that they may be dealing with. You can’t change anyone, but you can take solace in the fact you planted the seed. Call us at (949) 200-7929 for a free consultation.
Emerson Levine, CADC II Intake and Discharge Manager