Talk:Dry drunk

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Currently, a search on the term "dry drunk" just redirects to the Alcoholics Anonymous article.

While the term "dry drunk" is part of the AA argot, I'm not sure a simple redirect is the best strategy.

Is there any kind of WP standard for definition of slang?

I read the info below this, and some of it is useless and/or ridiculous.

Certainly the term predates GW Bush. I have been in recovery since 1985, and the term was already in common usage then, if not before.

It is not necessarily an "abusive" or denigrating term. An example of usage moght be: "Q. Hey, Rob! How's it going?' A. Meh. Not so hot. I've been letting myself be a bit of a dry drunk today. I need some attitude adjustment."

By this, it is meant that I am letting myself lapse into some of the behaviors that go hand-in-hand with my alcoholism. I am not drinking - yet - but I am letting myself behave in a negative, self-destructive way. Sometimes this is summed up in AA as "restless, irritable, and discontent."

I would be willing to take a crack at writing a neutral article, it is has not already been decided that there is no need for one. FrRob (talk) 16:53, 27 March 2012 (UTC)


Bold text''Dry Drunk' is slang originated in AA and used often by members of AA to denigrate those people who reject or otherwise backslide in following the tenets of AA as a means to quit drinking. It has been adopted by some that are not members in the AA movement and has the same general definition. It is believed in the AA group that a person who quits drinking without embracing the tenets of AA as the means to quit drinking will experience many unsavory feelings and exhibit unsavory behaviors. These unsavory feelings may include despair, anger, rage, depression, and anxiety and are expressed in behavior stemming from those types of feelings.207.175.209.1 00:43, 14 November 2005 (UTC) Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Dry_drunk"

"There is actually a condition.." is poor writing and smells like weasel. Who recognizes the condition? What are the symptoms? The article itself starts out by saying it's a slang term. Perhaps there should be some mention of skepticism towards the term outside AA/addiction recovery circles? ie, if someone gets clean without AA they're just "dry drunk" and not really recovered, and similarly for those who go through AA but don't recover.

Really the article seems intended to buttress criticism of Bush. Nice link.

I agree the article needs work. However it seems definite that the so called dry drunk condition is something some people within the AA at least have 'recognised' for a while, long before Bush came into the picture. I came across this usenet article from 1996 which shows as much http://groups.google.co.nz/group/alt.recovery.aa/browse_thread/thread/6b35e9dfd5ebfae5/c60c8aa80121ef6a (look at the last msg by gimpguy especially). Therefore, I think another thing the article needs in addition to what has been mentioned by the other person (although I think the scepticism part needs refinement, I suspect not everyone outside the AA recovery circle are sceptical of the term), is some analysis of the history to show the 'condition' was not something invented to describe Bush. Obviously the usenet article is okay but we need something more substanial and from a better source. P.S. Interestingly, usenet also shows mention of Bush as a dry drunk preceeded the 2000 election and of course then the events following September 11th etc...60.234.141.76 13:44, 6 October 2005 (UTC)

What's wrong with the article that would make it questionable regarding its neutrality? The only problem I can see is that it's short. Adding more information, along with the requisite "criticism" section, should do the trick nicely. Unfortunately, I'm not the one to do that, since I just heard of the term "dry drunk" a few minutes ago, but the users on Wikipedia seem to be very good at finding and presenting useful information. Somebody expand this article and get rid of the silly "NPOV disputed" sign! Harkenbane 17:38, 23 October 2005 (UTC)

It's clear that "dry drunk syndrome" and "dry drunks" precede any contemporary political controversy. The concept is longstanding part of the culture and body of knowledge of AA and other addiction recovery circles. Article needs expansion, signaling as a stub. Don't see anything controversial in this subject- (unless one is a "dry drunk" in denial.) Removing "NPOV disputed" sign. Intersofia 15:26, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

Disputed Neutrality[edit]

The non-neutrality is that the term is not recognized as a psychological disorder by any official group, but the article treats (misrepresents) it as one to laypeople by calling it a Syndrome and referring to its symptoms. The only 'authority' on dry drunks is AA itself. I would suggest instead that 'Dry Drunk' is slang originated in AA and used to denigrate those people who, individually or as a whole, reject the tenets of AA and achieve sobriety through some other means.

I don't believe that the phenomenon here described needs to be recognized by any "official" group to be described as a "syndrome" or to speak of the "symptoms" exhibited by "dry drunks". Googling returns 9,170 Results for "dry drunk syndrome". It's in common use. Perhaps the term "dry drunk" did originate in AA, can you source it ? Let's assume this is true, since AA deals on daily basis with alcoholism, it makes sense to me that they would be one of the first to characterize the phenomenon of a "dry drunk". In matters regarding alcoholism recovery, AA is widely regarded as effective, so much so that courts commonly require assistance to meetings as a condition of parole for DUI offenders. I think it's a bit of a stretch to call AA a "cult", although they certainly encourage people who assist their meetings to ask God for His/Her help. Recognizing that most alcoholics have failed to curb their addiction by sheer willpower, AA encourages a belief in a Higher Power - explicitly requiring assistees to ask for His/Her help, (see Step 3 of 12 Step program: "Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.") Does this qualify as a cult ? It's irrelevant for this article, because as you point out, the term has been widely adopted, outside of AA circles in any case. There is an objective phenomenon in existence, which the term describes. I've done edits to indicate that it is a slang term and moved some of your observations to the end of the article, and added a sentence on alternative groups to AA. Please comment so that we can achieve NPOV and remove the label. Intersofia 04:23, 14 November 2005 (UTC)
Looks good to me, removed the label.

This is a term of abuse![edit]

The term "dry drunk" is used, usually in a meanspirited way barely masked by false concern, by members of AA as a means of hazing. This idea has no support outside AA and the heavily AA influenced and supported addiction industry. Any attempt to do more than define this term with a sentence or two in a dictionary of jargon is giving it a credence it doesn't deserve. "Dry drunk" is no more scientific than "stinkin' thinkin'," the AA phrase that characterizes a so-called "dry drunk." This term may even be appealing to some outside of AA, because they feel they need to describe the subjectively annoying behavior exhibited by those going through physical and psychological withdrawal from a psychoactive chemical.

Recall that Science itself is a POINT OF VIEW. "Dry Drunk" is part of our culture, where it came from needs to be documented (it is) and whether a particular medical group or another uses the term or not is irrelevant. Intersofia 16:17, 2 April 2006 (UTC)

I overhauled the article to give it a more NPOV and to make it clear that "dry drunk" is not a disease state recognized in medicine. Before anyone changes anything substantive, I would say that I was involved in AA for several years and have attended hundreds of meetings, so I'm pretty sure I know the subject. Also, I am not involved with any other recovery program or rehab hospital, and I am not a professional drug counselor or psychologist. I don't believe in the existence of dry drunks, but I understand very well the beliefs of those who do. BrianGCrawfordMA 23:32, 31 January 2006 (UTC)

Well put, BrianG. And because this is an AA inspired derrogatory concept and we should use caution when it comes to diagnosing people with it here (such as George W. Bush). Furthermore, this entry should probably be deleted:

"Traits often attributed to a "dry drunk" are dishonesty, grandiosity, impatience, childishness,Stupidity,foolishness, irresponsibility, rationalization, projection, sensitivity and overreaction."

I have heard the term "dry drunk" a million times but I have never seen that "disgnostic criteria" for it. This is very POV/biased and I think it should be deleted and we should avoid perpetuating this "dry drunk" mythology. It is one thing for certain AAers to believe in this nonsense, it is another for a Wiki article to appear it buys into it as well. Mr Christopher 20:29, 7 March 2006 (UTC)
Recall that Science itself is a POINT OF VIEW. "Dry Drunk" is part of our culture, where it came from needs to be documented (it is) and whether a particular medical group or another uses the term or not is irrelevant. I am restoring the reference to hypoglycemia, this is NOT original research. Original research refers to a wikipedian doing original research. This is a REFERENCE to a possible explanation for the condition some have termed "dry drunk syndrome." Intersofia 16:17, 2 April 2006 (UTC)
Intersofia - Science is NOT a point of view. You're an amazingly ignorant person.
Mr/Ms Smartypants, science deals with objective facts, how are they observed? From what point of view do they stand outside of? What about pre-Copernican astronomy, science with no point of view? Where does perception and communication occur? Subjectively. Ignorance is as ignorance does. (Please delete my comments as the desire hits you.)
I think it is useful to point out these facets of this term in common use. As much as it may be useful in some AA context, even in a positive way, to use the term, it is also useful to consider its negative connotations such that people become more aware of what is happening with the term "Dry Drunk". Don't remove it, keep clarifying in this manner.

What maladaptive behaviors?[edit]

The dry drunk may:

"experience many unpleasant feelings and exhibit maladaptive behaviors. These feelings are said to include despair, anger, rage, depression of mood or clinical depression, and anxiety and are expressed in behavior stemming from those types of feelings" or i have not had a Drink in 15 Years but i have never felt more miserable in my life!

Projecting ones own feelings on to another person enough to call them at 3:00 Am to tell them "Oh i'm sorry i did not want you to be overwhelmed or underwhelmed about such and such incident, i just thought I'd call and...." i didn't know it was that late, I'm Sorry....i'm sorry!.......i'm Sorry! 20 January 2013

the article itemizes feelings, but neglects to itemize maladaptive behaviors. what are they? The paragraph reads strangely having been presumably censored of the following:

"Traits often attributed to a "dry drunk" are dishonesty, grandiosity, impatience, Judgmental, Condescending, childishness, stupidity, forgetfulness, foolishness, irresponsibility, projection, sensitivity and overreaction." 01/20/2013

Old behaviour[edit]

From what i understand, anyone who has gotten clean and is still doing the behaviors s/he did while "using" is considered a dry drunk.Say someone was a thief and dishonest and in general blaming the world or their upbringing for their lot in life and having a "woe is me" attitude. Now when one gets clean, it is usually considered a good idea to stop those negative behaviors that were practiced in active addiction. Now with that said, getting clean is hard and change doesn't happen over night. But if one was a "creep" in active addiction and remains a "creep" while abstinent, then i would consider them a dry drunk. Recovery is more than just staying clean, it's about changing ones life for the betterment of society and family. It should be noted that 12 step programs don't have a monopoly on "recovery". Their are other avenues that recovering addicts can take to get clean and find a new way of life.

Another relevant phrase in A.A. circles is, "If you sober up a drunken horse thief, you've got a sober horse thief." A.A. involves self-diagnosis, and in my 23 years in the organization I have heard lots of people describe themselves as having been [on] a dry drunk ("dry drunk", like "drunk", can refer either to a person or to an episode). It is frequently used to describe behavior patterns that are thought to play a role in setting one up for a relapse from substance abstinence. FWIW. --Haruo (talk) 08:24, 30

December 2007 (UTC)

Recent Edits[edit]

I suppose that this got kicked out of the AA entry? I believe that this term, unique to AA has little value outside of AA. I cleaned it up anyway and changed a few words here and there to make it clear that this is AA-speak. This is, of course, my opinion. If others have peer-reviewed or otherwise scientifically valid evidence for the importance of the concept of "dry drunk", then let us put it in. I also removed most of the 12-step section as that is covered in great detail in other articles.Desoto10 (talk) 05:42, 31 January 2008 (UTC)


Current Version[edit]

The current version of this article is completely useless. The only reference is to some random guy posting on about.com. If I knew how to begin the deletion process I would. If somebody knows how, I would support its removal.Desoto10 (talk) 02:21, 19 October 2008 (UTC)

There is a great deal of lived experience in AA and NA for the common person in what could otherwise be considered an esoteric and expensive exercise--i.e. Group Therapy experienced in AA and NA group meetings. Likewise there is a great deal of common sense and common place experiences of rather abstract and esoteric psychiatric and sociological terms such as "anti-social personality disorder," "narcissistic personality disorder," "criminal thinking," and such terms as grandiosity, or victim mentality, or "recidivism". The classic AA term "Dry Drunk" is a brilliant catch all kind of category for just such problematic personalities, unpleasant characteristics, and just plain unwelcome'd types of people--it is a lay person's terminology for all of the above. Not only does it identify the behavior, but it alerts the person with the characteristic to examine him or herself for the signs of it, and the necessary changes to lead a normal, and yes, recovery based life. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 70.238.132.72 (talk) 04:54, 5 August 2010 (UTC)

I must state that while some may think this is a useless entry, I as a counselor appreciate the definition and its reported origins or possibility. i have heard dry drunk often but never understood the meaning. while I may not agree with all of the info here it gives me a point of reference to see the meanings while they were negative they are also the reactions of people who are clean and sobers answers to others weaknesses. thanks I would have to say in my opinion these are all actions of any human being they are coping skills to deal with things we don't know how to deal with so we do what we've always done. but while labeled for AA i would have to broaden the definition to anyone in the Alcoholics family they learned from a user so they learned to act like the user. with the same anger............ — Preceding unsigned comment added by 66.35.11.67 (talk) 14:44, 13 September 2013 (UTC)

Needless to say "Dry Drunk" was (as described above) coined by AA. In medical circles the correct term would be "Untreated alcoholism." — Preceding unsigned comment added by 75.183.65.174 (talk) 21:12, 28 April 2014 (UTC)



...The value of words, terms, definitions, colloquialisms and sayings is to serve accurately:

Notwithstanding all of the above and its historical relevance in relation to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), the following definition may serve to better put the term with its original inception and value of AA back into perspective for those who care to address this seriously, either for themselves independently, or with the initial help of AA, or any other organization with similar intention:

A dry drunk is someone who decides to quit ingesting a substance that induces a temporary awareness of Presence, in this case alcohol, and simultaneously does not commit to developing and maintaining a natural state of Presence through self-reliance in personal willpower by the sustained discipline of the Practise of Presence.

In this sense, Presence is the real Higher Power of AA. Accordingly, once self-reliance in the Practise of Presence is achieved, there is no need to attend AA meetings, except to help others achieve or maintain the same, if one feels so inclined. That would, in essence, be step 13, which is really the same as step 2, except with an emphasis on authentic self-reliance. Anyone attending the AA organization, or one with the same aim, would do well to incorporate "The Presence Process" by Michael Brown into the Work right from the beginning.

Without sustained Presence, all unresolved/unintegrated emotional trauma, and therefore inner conflict, does not stand a chance of becoming integrated. It will keep expressing itself with negative emotional and therefore social consequences.

And so, the analogy of the horse thief would be more precisely stated as: "If you sober up a drunken horse thief, without them consciously deciding to embody and abide in and as Presence, they're going to remain a horse thief."[1]

  1. ^ The Presence Process by Michael Brown, 2010 ISBN 978-1-897238-46-2