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Living Life Sober-Causes and Symptoms of Dry Drunk Syndrome

“Dry drunk” has been described as, “A condition of returning to one’s old alcoholic thinking and behavior without actually taking a drink.” A dry drunk is one that may have embraced a recovery program to abstain from alcohol but has not worked on the other aspects such as unhealthy thinking patterns that are so important to living a sober lifestyle.

Being active, in addiction, ingrains many negative thoughts, attitudes, feelings, and actions that have to be addressed for one to remain sober.

The dry drunk seems to never get past the resentment and anger of having to stop drinking. In their minds, they desire their old life back and the benefits that come with this lifestyle such as, inhibition, escaping reality, and a crutch for dealing with pain and stress.

Causes of Dry Drunk Syndrome:

People who turn to drugs and alcohol for comfort do so because they find life difficult to manage. They have developed poor coping skills, and are unable to deal with life as it comes.

Alcohol may be used as a method to deal with life’s challenges. Individuals turn to a substance creating a false “god” in hopes of coping with their daily problems.

Most people who are in recovery never allow God to sift through their old ways of thinking and behaving.

Fear is usually behind not allowing God to fully purge out old sinful behaviors, as well as not permitting God to bring healing to the things that have caused deep pain.

Symptoms of Dry Drunk Syndrome:

  1. Low tolerance to stress. No ability to manage and cope with life in healthy ways.
  2. Loneliness and a lack of interest in activities.
  3. Idolize “drinking days.” Start to reminiscence about the good times and forget all the bad times of drinking.
  4. Self-pity. Start feeling sorry for oneself because life being sober is not as pleasant as one would have hoped.
  5. Resentment at others who encouraged you to stop drinking.
  6. There has not been internal emotional or behavioral changes.
  7. Discontent, bored, unfulfilled with life.

Learning healthy coping skills and better ways to manage stress is a must for a sober life. It is impossible to remove all stress and trials in life, but God can help navigate all that would cause one to want to “hide from life.” Let’s face it, life is tough and can be harsh at times; however, when you can surrender your entire life to trusting God, there is no longer a need to “self-protect.” Addicts self-protect because they feel the world is unsafe, they can trust no one; not even God. Recovery is not about returning to how things were before but embracing new and healthy ways to cope and manage life and that includes building trust with God and others.

There is hope and healing through Jesus Christ. If you have never fully allowed Jesus into all of your life and your recovery, surrender today and ask Him to help you heal. “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1


*Share your experiences with recovery. In what ways have you been able to stay sober?


Resources on Christian recovery:

Celebrate Recovery

 Spirit-led Addiction Recovery Facebook

Related Articles:

5 Keys to Breaking Any Bondage.

Is it Addiction or Idolatry?

Help! I’m an Alcoholic.





About Stephanie Reck

Stephanie has a heart and passion to see broken lives restored and redeemed through Jesus Christ. She writes through her personal experiences and her educational and professional background. She has over 17 years experience in counseling, and has a Master's degree in Social Work, Bachelor's degree in Psychology, and is a Licensed Belief Therapist. Stephanie has been married for 16 years,and has one grown son. Stephanie's desire through her writings is to bring hope and encouragement to the body of Christ, that no matter what you have been though or going through, there is restoration and redemption through Jesus Christ.

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  1. Stephanie, I really like the thought of this sentence…”Recovery is not about returning to how things were before but embracing new and healthy ways to cope and manage life and that includes building trust with God and others.” I have never really thought about any kind of “recovery” in those clear terms. New and different in a healthy way. I like that. Thanks for your post.

    • Stephanie H,
      Thank you for your comment! Recovery is not just about quitting whatever is the addiction, but embracing a complete lifestyle change.
      Blessings to you,
      Stephanie R

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