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  • Writer's pictureMike and Glenn

Choosing sobriety over dry

On our weekly recovery podcast,, we have been chatting about common “recovery” search terms. Recently, we looked at a popular one: what is dry drunk? Click here to hear the podcast.

Most everybody attributes the term “dry drunk” to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). A Wikipedia contributor defines “dry drunk” this way: Dry drunk is a colloquial expression that describes an alcoholic who no longer drinks but otherwise maintains the same behavior patterns as an alcoholic. Wiki goes on to say that a dry drunk “can be described as someone who refrains from alcohol or drugs but still has all the unresolved emotional and psychological issues that might have fueled the addiction.”

Glenn framed dry drunk as “not drinking anymore but having the same shitty behavior.”

Either way, in the circles of recovery, there is a difference between not drinking or drugging and being “sober.” Sobriety, we've learned, is transferring stagnation to energy, pain to peace, and chaos to care. Getting sober is a constant motion toward self-awareness and self-improvement. The evolution found within sobriety brings us peace (even if in little bites) and behaviors that support that harmony. The manifestation of these feelings could take days, weeks, months, or years to fulfill. Much of the results are dictated by one's commitment and efforts.

So, we conclude that the dry drunk is still thinking the way he thought and acting the way he acted -he just isn't consuming poisons or pharmaceuticals.

Think about it: the poor dry drunk has no line of defense. His escape, the bottle, is gone, and he is left with pain, hopelessness, and anxiety. He is in a bad place.

There IS Hope.

Commonly referred to as “the promises,” found on pages 83 and 84 of the big book of Alcoholics Annonymous, paint a snapshot of what sobriety has to offer. If you are simply abstinent and finding life quite miserable, let these words, these “promises” resonate deep within you:

If we are painstaking about this phase of our development we will be amazed before we are half way through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.

For those struggling with dry drunkenness and aspiring to get sober, may we suggest a few simple activities:

Reach out to someone who has been there

Somewhere in your life, we're assuming that you were in the rooms of an AA meeting and somebody gave you a phone number promising to answer if you called for help. Now might be the perfect time to pick up that phone and call. If you don't possess phone numbers – go on the hunt to collect them. The program of Alcoholics Anonymous works because those people that are in recovery are committed to helping those new to recovery. That is our whole purpose. That is how the entire thing works. You are not inconveniencing somebody - you're helping them fulfill their mission in life. Get the number. Make the call. Start the journey.

Take Care of yourself.

Abstinence is hard. Dry drunks have something to be proud of. The not-drinking, not-drugging is the first and most vital step in recovery. There is no getting around that. We recommend not beating yourself up based on where you think you are in the sobriety program. This is not a race or contest; everybody has unique variances on their journey. Take care of yourself along the way, reward yourself for your milestones and remind yourself that withdrawal is REAL and wreaks havoc on the body and mind for LONG periods. Respect and appreciate that.


Seriously, “my life is falling apart, and you're telling me the journal? Are you serious?” Yes, we are. Journaling is proven to be therapeutic. If done right, the jumbled mess inside your head comes out in digestible sentences that can be examined, analyzed, absorbed, and acted upon. So buy a notebook, open up a Word document or Google Docs and get writing. Somebody once shared that they use the exercise to write a never-to-be-published blog. Shaping their thoughts and therefore laying them to rest. Try it. This might work for you as a stepping stone to asking and answering interpersonal questions.

Working the steps of Alcoholics Anonymous demands writing specific facts down.

You don't have to be a proficient writer, just as long as you can read your writing.

Limit stimulates (caffeine, sugar, and nicotine)

Garbage in. Garbage out. To say that we exasperate our problems with an unhealthy diet is an understatement. That being said, the authors of this post have much work to do on taking their own advice. We found these online suggestions, and we will throw them your way.

Change your location

The best possible location you can put yourself in is a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous. You will find no safer, more productive use of 60 minutes of your time. You can go bowling, but a meeting costs you a buck and parking is free. Most places will even throw in a complimentary cup of coffee. Tough to argue

Look, AA is a simple program - that is not easy. It will take determination and grit, repetition, accountability, honesty, perseverance, and more than a few personal relationships committed to recovery for you to come out on the other end.

You see, drunk, I can do by myself. Dry, I can do by myself. Sober is where I need a community of like-minded people to help see me across the finish line.

Let’s choose “sober.”


Thoughts and ideas for this blog post were taken and built upon from sober. coffee podcast #95 Titled: “#Trending Series: Pt 7: What Is Dry Drunk?” The podcast dropped on 1/18/2023. Click here to hear the podcast

Photo by redcharlie on Unsplash


Alcoholics Anonymous and AA are registered trademarks of Alcoholics World Service. Inc. References to AA, the 12 steps, and 12 traditions does not mean that AA has reviewed or approved the contents of this publication, nor that AA agrees with the views expressed herein. This publication is intended to support personal growth and should not be thought of as a substitute for advice from healthcare professionals. The authors’ advice and viewpoints are their own.


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