Lorelie Rozzano is a guest blogger for Vertava Health.
Are you a Dry Drunk?
Have you recently quit drinking or drugging? Are you white-knuckling it and barely holding on? Does your family walk on tip-toes around you? Do you feel angry all the time and have trouble, expressing your feelings?
Has anyone ever told you they wished you were still using? Or better yet, for years they wanted you to stop using and now, they’re offering to roll you a joint or pour you a drink?
Have you ever heard the term, dry drunk?
Dry drunk is a term that is used for someone who acts and appears, miserable. This person can be an alcoholic or addict, an ex- gambler, or sex addict. It can be anyone who once indulged in unhealthy behaviors, but has stopped on their own in an act of will power.
Although this person is not using, they’re still behaving as if they were. Without substance to medicate their pain, they hurt. A dry drunk will act one way in the workplace and another, in their home. They take out all their pent up frustrations and misery, on their family members.
You might wonder why a dry drunk is hurting or miserable. After all, they stopped using substance, so shouldn’t their problems be gone?
Unfortunately, it’s not that easy.
Addiction is like an iceberg. What you see sticking out of the water is only 15 % of the entire mass. In other words, what you can see is the alcohol, drugs or unhealthy behaviors. It appears as if this is all there is, to the problem. But looks can be deceiving. For underneath the water, the part you can’t see, lies the biggest problem, of all. The 85 % is the behavioral, emotional and psychological aspects, of addiction.
This 85 % is made up of negative and unhealthy thinking and behaviors, such as:
Rigidity – No flexibility. Only black or white, right or wrong, good or bad, all or nothing, thinking and statements. Conversations with a dry drunk can feel more like a power struggle, than anything else.
Angry and Resentful – A dry drunk never wanted to quit and resents it. They may act out their resentments through passive, or not so passive, behaviors. You might find yourself walking on tip-toes or agreeing with them, just to keep the peace.
Sarcastic – Not able to express emotions in a healthy fashion, their words come out barbed and hurtful. Dry drunks can be judgemental and their comments can come across as put downs.
Extreme mood swings – A dry drunk can be depressed one minute and then blow up, the next. They may have an explosive temper, leaving the rest of the family feeling confused, fearful and anxious.
Emotionally Cold – A dry drunk has difficulties expressing all emotions, except anger. They may appear cold and hostile and punish you by withholding their affection.
Nothing is ever good enough – No matter what you do, you can’t please them. Sugar is too sweet, a donut to round, coffee to hot or cold. A dry drunk will find fault in everything.
You owe me – There’s a sense of entitlement. A dry drunk just gave up their best friend and the world, owes them for it. A dry drunk will punish their loved ones for ‘making’ them quit. They justify their anger by saying things like: if you hadn’t made me quit, I wouldn’t be acting like this.
Self-pity – Poor me, I’ll never have fun again. You might as well kill me now.
Grandiose – An overblown sense of self-importance and worth. A dry drunk views their only downfall as drinking or drugging. Once they stop using, they feel superior to others and want to direct their lives.
Blaming – blaming others for their shortcomings. Dry drunks become very good at taking other people’s inventory, but lack the ability, to see their own. Instead they blame others for their poor behaviour.
Feeling bored and dissatisfied with life – A dry drunk may have periods of lethargy. Nothing interests them anymore. Their mood is one of ‘blah.’
Euphoric recall – glamorizing their past usage. There is a sense of nostalgia for the good ole days. A dry drunk may forget that using almost killed them and tore their family apart.
A dry drunk might seem like a bad person, but they’re not.
They’re abstinent, but miserable. They will either relapse, engage in other addictive unhealthy behaviors, or bottom out, emotionally. They may even have a nervous breakdown. They can act out in anger and be so miserable, that their family can no longer tolerate them, and leave.
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Although their not impaired anymore, their thinking is still very sick. When quitting drugs and alcohol it’s important to have a support system in place. This support system cannot be your family. The truth is, addicts behave badly with their families. They don’t treat anyone else quite as disrespectfully, as they do their ‘loved ones.’
Not only will the addicted person need help, but so will the rest of the family.
Addiction left untreated is terminal. Reaching out for help is tough. Living in and with addiction, is tougher. Don’t let pride get in your way.
Everything you’ve ever been looking for, is waiting for you. But you won’t find it in a drink, pill, snort or shot. You’ll find it, by reaching out your hand and saying the three most empowering words, you’ll ever say.
I Need Help.
Go on. Say it. Mean it. And let people help you.
Your world will change in accordance to the efforts, you put into your recovery. You’re only as happy, as you decide to be.
If you or someone you know needs help, please call this confidential support line at 1 (888) 614-2379.