Sober Alcoholic Behavior

sober alcoholic behavior

Addiction is a chronic disease, which means some of the maladaptive coping mechanisms and learned behavioral responses it entails can persist even in sustained sobriety. One hazard for recovering alcoholics is sober alcoholic behavior, which can hinder progress and, at worst, become a relapse trigger. How can you recognize when unhealthy patterns have become an obstacle standing between you and your goals?

What Is Sober Alcoholic Behavior?

While abstaining from alcohol is a vital first step in reclaiming your health and well-being, it’s only one part of the recovery equation. Even if you are no longer relying on drinking to cope with life’s challenges, you may still be engaging in dangerous or destructive activities. Therefore, achieving lifelong sobriety not only requires you to swear off alcohol and other addictive substances, but also to address the underlying causes of your illness.

You may also hear sober alcoholic behavior called “dry drunk syndrome,” a slightly outdated phrase that originated in Alcoholics Anonymous. Resorting to sober alcoholic behavior doesn’t mean your recovery goals have failed. However, you will need to change your coping mechanisms and outlook on life if you are serious about succeeding in recovery.  

Warning Signs of Sober Alcoholic Behavior

Dry drunk syndrome has some characteristic red flags that can indicate you are at risk.

  • You initially quit drinking to please someone else, but you are not genuinely motivated to put in the work to maintain long-term sobriety for yourself.
  • You are still spending time with old drinking buddies or other people who do not support the lifestyle changes necessary to achieve your recovery goals.
  • You tend to romanticize your addiction instead of focusing on how good sobriety feels or how fulfilling a substance-free life can be. 
  • Due to addiction’s instant-gratification mindset, you become easily frustrated when you don’t see immediate progress or results. 
  • You feel superior to other people and believe nobody else can understand what you are going through.
  • You no longer see value in therapies or strategies intended to help you succeed, such as 12-step groups. 
  • You still spend a lot of time thinking about alcohol.
  • Your feelings about sobriety tend to be mostly negative or resentful. 
  • You are jealous of people in your life who are not struggling with alcohol misuse. 
  • Instead of drinking, you are doing other unhealthy things to feel fulfilled, like overeating or experimenting with drugs like marijuana.

Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome and Dry Drunk Behavior

Even after you have gone through a detox period to clear your body and mind of alcohol, you could still be vulnerable to an experience known as post-acute withdrawal syndrome. PAWS is a constellation of long-lasting psychological symptoms that can persist for a year or more after the initial withdrawal period has passed. 

PAWS is not in the DSM-5, primarily due to a lack of consensus among the mental health treatment community on reasons recovering addicts experience this condition. However, for the people who have been through post-acute withdrawal, it is a genuine health concern. PAWS is one leading explanation for sober alcoholic behavior, as some people undergoing post-acute withdrawal will try almost anything to find relief from their discomfort. 

Recovery at Canyon Crossing 

When your life has revolved around alcohol for any length of time, it can be a struggle to fill the void and come to terms with your new sober lifestyle. The loss of a long-held habit and having too much time on your hands could magnify a psychological response such as depression, irritability or cravings. 

If you are struggling with sober alcoholic behavior after trying to quit drinking, entering an accredited alcohol treatment program can make the difference. Contact us at Canyon Crossing to learn more about starting your women’s-only recovery in Prescott, Arizona. 

Benefits of Residential AddictionTreatment

You cannot heal in the same environment that made you sick. This is the philosophy behind our residential addiction treatment program. At Canyon Crossing, women learn to live life on life’s terms while staying in a safe, substance-free setting. This gives our clients the space and peace needed for lasting recovery.
Our residential program combines high-accountability sober living arrangements with first-rate clinical care. While staying in our homes, clients participate in process groups, one-on-one counseling sessions, and hands-on learning opportunities. They also receive ongoing training; in these meetings, life skills like financial management and conflict resolution are imparted. All of this happens with 24/7 encouragement, guidance, and supervision from our clinical team.
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