There is a very common issue in the world of addiction called dry drunk. It’s when someone is actively refraining from drinking, but still displaying signs of selfishness, stubbornness, lack of accountability, and blame.
And it’s shocking because for so long you’ve thought if they just got sober everything would be better.
If they just got sober, they would turn into the loving, kind person they used to be and your relationship would be everything you wanted and more.
But when they stop drinking they get cranky. And mean. You end up walking on eggshells even more because you never know what kind of mood they will be in.
And the selfish, narcissistic behavior actually gets worse. How could that be? Alcohol and/or drugs were the root of our problems, so why isn’t it better?
If the one you love is resentful, angry, depressed, anxious, jealous, speaking fondly of his or her drinking days, self-obsessed, or now addicted to something else that’s unhealthy (like sex, video games, or food) they are probably considered a dry drunk.
So what do you do about it?
First, let’s start with the fact that this is normal behavior for some. Drinking or drug use was their way of coping. Now that that has been taken away, they are left with all these feelings and don’t know how to handle them like a mature, loving adult.
And unless they are willing to get outside help like counseling, AA support groups, a sober-living house, yoga, small groups, etc., this behavior will most likely continue.
The other sad news is that dry drunk behavior often leads to relapse. I’m not sharing this with you to make you scared, but I believe knowledge is power and removing the scales from your eyes is the BEST way to start your recovery and deal with this disease.
Most importantly, I need to you hear this, so lean in closely:
Their awful behavior is NOT your fault.
Don’t let this disease try to blame you. You’re a loving and wonderful partner. You’ve done the best you can to deal with this relationship.
If they get cranky, try not to be around them. You can sleep in another room, schedule things without them on the weekends, eat dinner when you feel like it, and don’t need to wait for them to show up.
Get busy getting busy. Create your own space until they get the help they need. Create and enforce your boundaries. And most importantly get the help you need.