What is a dry drunk, and the 'dry drunk syndrome', as it is sometimes called? It can best be described as someone who fits one of two conditions. The first is someone who has given up drinking and drugging and not made any internal or emotional changes, they stay the same but the substance use has stopped. Or in the second case what was once someone abstinent and on a progressive path of recovery has slowly returned to chaotic and unrealistic thinking.

Being active in your addiction sets up many trains of thought, attitudes, feelings, and actions that are problematic. Simply removing the alcohol or drugs without changing these underlying factors will produce a dry drunk syndrome. The dry drunk really refers to a condition and not the person. It is important to recognize a reversion back to our old ways of thinking and acting, or lack of progress in moving forward in recovery.

The dry drunk can be a precursor to the beginnings of relapse, the AA Big Book describes this condition as being "restless, irritable, and discontented". This set of attitudes can apply to anyone who is chemically dependent, or even those were not. Here are some of the attitudes common with the dry drunk syndrome.

Grandiosity - Grandiosity basically means a return to a self-centered, the world revolves around me attitude. In 12 Step literatures this is the concept of being "self-centered in the extreme". It does not have to necessarily mean that I believe I am the best; it can also be seeking attention through playing the victim or sitting on the pity pot.

Impulsivity - A common attitude or observable behavior of people with addiction problems is poor impulse control. We tend to do what we want when we want, with little regard for self harm or hurting others around us. Impulsivity can be linked with grandiosity to engage in behaviors designed to make us the center of attention.

Being judgmental - This is a very destructive attitude for people in recovery. When we judge a person as being better than or less than, we are setting up a situation where we inflate our egos feeling better than other people. On the other hand if we judge ourselves to be on the short end we can feel bitter and generate low self-esteem. Being judgmental is a low self-esteem generator.

Complacency - This is not only an attitude of somebody in dry drunk syndrome, but is a red flag warning sign of someone who is well into the relapse process. An important facet of being in active recovery is just that, being active, and moving forward. It is not how fast you are going but rather the direction in which you are headed. If you become lazy or disinterested and stop being proactive about your recovery, the natural to a tendency is to fall back into addictive behaviors. Your re-engagement in them is just a short step away.

Once you are lured into any of these attitudes, they start to affect how you think. Once your thinking is affected and you start to buy into self-centered thoughts, chances are you'll engage in the actions stemming from these self-centered thoughts.

Here are some destructive patterns and actions that can result from dry drunk thinking:

1. We become restless and irritable and discontent.

2. We become bored, dissatisfied, and easily distracted from productive tasks.

3. Our emotions and feelings get listless and dull, nothing excites us anymore.

4. We start to the engage in the euphoric recall that is yearning for the good old days of active using and for getting the pain and shame of use.

5. We start to engage in magical thinking we get on realistic and fanciful expectations and dreams.

6. The last thing we want you is engaged in introspection to improve ourselves.

7. We start to become unfulfilled and have the feeling that nothing will ever satisfy our yearning or fill the hole in the sole.

Looking back at the list of attitudes and thought distortions listed above, it is easy to see how the dry drunk syndrome is simply nothing more then reverting back to the way it was when we were active in our use. If you are starting to notice some of the attitudes discussed creeping back into your life, is target time to start paying attention to the possibility of relapse and start turning your life in sobriety and recovery around. The dry drunk syndrome is a bright red flashing warning sign for relapse.

Author's Bio: 

Tell your story! Pick up tips and tricks to help in addiction recovery and enhance your life free of addictions. Join our growing community. The author, Bill Urell MA.CAAP-II, is an addictions therapist at a leading drug treatment center. He teaches healthy life styles and life skills. Visit us at: http://www.AddictionRecoveryBasics.com/