Are you living with or do you have a dry drunk (or clean junkie) in your life? You may know one and not even know it. A dry drunk or clean junkie is someone that has embraced a recovery program to abstain from their alcohol, but has not yet worked on the other elements that are so important to complete a clean and sober lifestyle.
There are some big signs of how to tell if someone is a dry drunk. The alcoholic or addict can have resentment toward whoever stopped their drinking/using. This is something that you may not be able to see just from the surface but very common. They may start realizing that because of their using they didn’t realize their goals or dreams in life and start questioning if it’s too late to achieve their dreams. They may try to reconcile every relationship in their life and not be able to do so with a loving partner and then go on to not have a family. They become accepting of the wasted years from their alcohol or drug use. And of course there is anger and jealousy towards happy people or people who are not addicts and alcoholic. All of these things would be dealt with completely differently by a recovering alcoholic or addict and a dry drunk or clean junkie.
The only way for a dry drunk or clean junkie to maintain a happy and healthy sober life is for them to work on themselves. Yes, we need to take away the drugs and alcohol; but once we take them away we are left with ourselves and we are the problem. Living with or being around a dry drunk can be almost scarier than living with an alcoholic or addict in active addiction. You never know what to expect, you never know what their reaction is going to be so you have to be careful. A dry drunk or clean junkie can function this way for quite some time, maybe even forever depending on the person. When we stop partaking in something that we were used to doing for years, something that was a significant part of our everyday life, we need additional help emotionally and psychologically in working through that absence; particularly if it’s physically addicting.
For me, I tried to get sober numerous times. It only finally worked when I decided to actually get help and turn to the rooms of 12-step meetings. After all, alcohol and drugs were my entire existence and once they were gone I tried to just keep living life without them, but I needed to find something bigger than me and not keep going on self-will. When I tried to keep going without help I was just replacing my alcohol and drug addiction with shopping, men, sex, food and anything to get me out of myself. My life was still unmanageable and I was depressed, angry and anxious all the time.
Another thing that people don’t realize is that you can have long-term sobriety and attend meetings and the fellowship and still be a dry drunk or clean junkie. This can happen over time to people who have had a spiritual experience and to those in recovery not working a program. There are many signs your loved one is becoming a dry drunk but a few of them are: their moods suddenly change, they start doing old behaviors, they stop being around you as much and maybe even avoid you, they don’t want to talk about being sober, they are constantly angry or unhappy, they are taking others inventory and judging others. There are so many ways to tell if someone is going from a recovering alcoholic or addict back to being dry. One thing is for sure though, if your loved one is slipping back into old ways, go seek help for yourself and find someone to talk to. If you or a loved one are struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll free 1-800-951-6135.