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Sunday, May 22, 2016
Understanding "Dry Drunk"
One of my counselees, John (not his real name), is an American patient who is addicted to alcohol and sex with prostitutes. His wife found out through a cctv camera in his office that he’s again contacting prostitutes and drinking heavily after 1 1/2 years of self-imposed abstinence.
His traumatized, deeply hurting wife saw me with much confusion. She asked, “What happened, doc? I thought it’s over!” Her question is typical and common.
In alcoholism treatment, the term “DRY DRUNK” is used to describe a person who still thinks and behaves like an alcoholic even though he is not drinking. In the case of my American patient who relapsed into a binge after 1 1/2 years of abstinence, this proves to be true.
Similarly, other types of addiction such as sex addiction or money addiction, can switch to abstinence mode for a period of time. Every addict is capable of a time of break or moratorium. Yet the addict is still living, feeling, and thinking as an addict.
Dr. Patrick Carnes, a world renowned addiction specialist/author, explains that a still “addicted brain” carries a supply within itself despite abstinence. The key then is internal change rather than mere external restraint or “motions.”