Abstinence simply means to stop using alcohol or drug to which one is addicted. Sobriety means learning to live in abstinence through continuous emotional growth that allows you to reach maturity. In other words: the sum of abstinence and maturity constitute sobriety.
It is not the same abstinence as sobriety
Abstinence simply means to stop using alcohol or the drug to which one is addicted.
Sobriety means learning to live in abstinence through continuous emotional growth that allows you to reach maturity. In other words: the sum of abstinence and maturity constitute sobriety.
Many alcoholics stop drinking but do not grow emotionally. Although they are abstainers, they continue to be emotional persons. These people suffer from what is called ” Dry Drunk Syndrome”.
This syndrome is a form of neurosis that the recovering alcoholic suffers, who is content to stop drinking.
Achieving abstinence is just the end of the beginning
The true path to recovery begins at the moment when an absolute conviction of abstinence is reached, the foundation on which the building of sobriety will be built.
And it is very important that recovery for alcoholics aspire truly to sobriety and not remain in the mediocre conformity of abstinence. If it is difficult to stop drinking, it is much more difficult to grow emotionally to reach maturity. Do not forget that the combination of abstinence from alcohol (and any other drug) plus the emotional maturity of the individual is what truly constitutes sobriety.
In this article, we only present the list of symptoms and explain, briefly and quickly, each of them.
1.Immaturity and infantilism: It’s the essential symptom of dry drunk that the detention of emotional growth and persistence of dependencies. Although person no longer drinks, the alcoholic remains a child in his way of thinking, managing his emotions and acting. By remaining a child emotionally, you can not behave like a responsible adult who can achieve your life goals.
As good emotional persons, these alcoholics continue to depend on such figures as their mother, their father, siblings, wife, friends, boss, and so on. This dependence prevents them from obtaining two fundamental conditions in sobriety that is autonomy and responsibility. Being emotionally tied to other people, they continue to blame them for their existential failures and continue to play the role of victims.
2.A permanent attitude of dishonesty before oneself and others : Dishonesty is a bad habit that the alcoholic acquires during the development of his illness. It deceives, it lies, it invents pretexts, it promises and it does not comply, it cheats, it does not respect the rules of the game, it borrows and it does not pay and et cetera.
This inertia of dishonesty remains even after the alcoholic stops drinking. He continues to lie to his wife, continues without paying his debts, unfulfilled promises persist, among others. He often keeps lying to his therapist or telling lies in his group. The daily practice of honesty costs a lot of work.
3.Bitterness and emotional dissatisfaction due to the persistence of resentments : Although person no longer drinks, the alcoholic can not reach that fullness of life where he feels the satisfaction of living. He is dissatisfied, unhappy, with many areas of bitterness in his life and unable to taste the effect of sobriety. In addition, it still keeps many resentments of his past life that he has not been able to overcome. Person is angry with people and with the world. They are the typical dry drunkards chained to the past who cannot apply the solo for today.
4.The permanent feeling of guilt with self-devaluation, handicap, and tendency to self-punishment: These alcoholics are those who carry a terrible burden of guilt accumulated in the past and have not been able to forgive. They continue to feel guilty for many situations, such as the death of a loved one, the illness of one of their children or the failure of others, and so on.
They are people with very low self-esteem and a very big tendency towards perfectionism. As they do not forgive themselves (although others have already forgiven them) they feel less than others and with feelings of personal self-evaluation. To free themselves from this burden, they develop a neurotic need for atonement, so they fall into self-destructive behaviors and do not feel worthy of happiness. These self-destructive tendencies may cause them to relapse.
5.Egocentrism, neurotic self-sufficiency, mismanagement of aggressiveness and tendency to omnipotence : The egocentricity in the alcoholic is the neurotic compensation of an inferiority complex and low self-esteem that, like all emotionally infantile ones, leads them to an attitude of overcompensation and then they want to draw the attention of others.
That’s why when they got drunk they became fool. Once they stop drinking, their egocentricity directs them to their family members or their classmates, developing conflicting attitudes with mishandling of aggressiveness, which frequently becomes ungovernable by entering continuous conflicts with others and becoming incapacitated for sobriety.
Neurotic self-sufficiency refers not to the productive self-sufficiency that is a consequence of maturity, but to the one who continues to think that he does not need help from others and that he can only manage it, which inevitably leads him to wrong decisions for the resolution of his existential problems.
When neurotic self-sufficiency is exacerbated in excess it becomes omnipotence, which is the most serious defect in which an alcoholic can fall. Omnipotence is a pathological form of pride. A complex of superiority that disguises a deep feeling of inferiority, wants to be compensated.
6.Permanent fear: Many alcoholics live eternally distressed. In fact, they already lived in tension before drinking and what led them to their alcoholism was the need to relieve their tensions through alcohol. These individuals are generally very insecure, apprehensive, living in a constant state of tension and developing many fears. Fear of problems, fear of conflicts, fear of disease, fear of responsibilities, fear of being adults, fear of work, fear of daily dangers, fear of death, etc. They do not have the possibility of living in the present, but rather they live in the future.
They are anxious about what has not happened yet. This obviously affects their health, as they live continuously in tension and under prolonged stress, which causes them various symptoms such as headaches, back pain, sweating, sleep and appetite disorders, among others. Sometimes their anguish is so severe that they may suffer from other psychiatric disorders such as phobias, obsessions, compulsions or panic attacks. This type of recovering alcoholics, regardless of their a group, should receive specialized care by a psychiatrist.
7.Cyclic or permanent depression with attitudes of pessimism, demotivation and low energy: Another type of recovering for addicts are depressives. They are very vulnerable people in the emotional aspect who constantly feel sad, with low energy, with an inability to enjoy things, tendency to sadness and apathy, demotivated existentially, with few desires to live and, sometimes, with many desires die.
Both this symptom and the previous one (anguish) correspond to what is called dual disorder, that is, the patient has another psychiatric illness in addition to his addiction since both anguish and depression are diseases that affect mental health and so both require specialized medical attention.
8.Sexual and sentimental ungovernability : The psychological profile of the addict is characterized by the difficulty it has to handle both sexual and sentimental impulses. Being insecure people with low self-esteem has many problems to get involved with the opposite sex. That is why Person resorts to the emotional crutch of alcohol or other drugs to be able to give courage and disinhibit.
Under the influence of alcohol dares to do things that are not sober but poorly planned and worse handled. On the other hand, in a state of alcoholic intoxication, the most primitive sexual impulses are triggered, leading to undesirable behaviors such as sexual violence (rape, sadism) or homosexual behavior.
Many alcoholics who no longer drink are still dry because they persist in attitudes of sexual violence, machismo or pathological jealousy. You can’t talk about sobriety when the recovering alcoholic continues to control, threaten, hit or cease your spouse. There are also problems of premature ejaculation, impotence or frigidity.
The infidelity with the couple and the tendency to sexual promiscuity is another manifestation of drunken on a sexual and sentimental level. Many of these sexual ungovernable end up developing a sexual addiction or sentimental codependency towards their partner.
9.Denial of its non-alcoholic reality with persistence of rationalization and protection mechanisms: Although person remains in abstinence, this drunk remains a denier. And although he no longer denies his alcoholism, he continues to deny a series of character flaws, which he can’t visualize or accept and which prevent him from achieving optimal emotional growth.
This type of alcoholics usually get very upset when someone confronts them with their wrong zones and often change groups. They also reject any type of professional psychotherapy, arguing ignorance of doctors and psychologists regarding alcoholism and a program. They keep looking for guilty of everything bad that happens to them.
10.Substitution of alcohol with other addictive substances or behaviors : Many alcoholics stop drinking but substitute their compulsive behavior towards alcohol for other types of drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, inhalants or ecstasy. Many others stop drinking but instead begin to develop behaviors such as compulsive gambling, compulsive sex or workaholic. Sometimes they fall into the self-medication of tranquilizer pills or become addicted to tobacco.
Sometimes recovering alcoholics forget that smoking is also an addiction that sickens and kills just as many people as alcoholism. Do not forget that in alcoholism, excessive drinking behavior is only the symptom of a deeper disorder characterized by a pathological structure of an addictive nature whose origin is genetic and which makes it a potential addict to any type of substance or of behavior that causes stimulation in the reward center of the brain. This sick structure of the alcoholic also leads to mismanagement of all those existential situations that generate anguish or stress. This is called emotional ungovernability.
11.Spirituality absent or very impoverished, with intellectual arrogance, the tendency to materialism or little faith : Many alcoholics recover physically, achieve better governability of their emotions and achieve an improvement in their functioning and social adaptation, but they do not experience that spiritual awakening that is a fundamental condition for achieving integral sobriety. Do not forget that the essence of the program of the 11 steps is fundamentally spiritual and that in addition to psychophysical and social recovery there must be a spiritual recovery, that is, the recovery of faith.
The crisis of values that is currently lived and that is reflected in extreme materialism, where the highest value is the economic success and the possession of consumer goods, make people move away from God and the supreme values of the spirit. The absent or impoverished spirituality is also a reflection of intellectual arrogance and an existential self-sufficiency characteristic of certain recovering alcoholics who have reached a good cultural level, wealth, power or prestige.
This lack of humility makes them fall into a progressive arrogance that can degenerate into one of the most serious symptoms of the dry drunkenness that is omnipotence. The one who suffers from omnipotence thinks that only he himself is his Higher Power.
The integral recovery of alcoholism and other addictions is a long and complicated process that every patient in recovery must take into account. Achieving sobriety implies the practice of qualities such as freedom, responsibility, honesty and humility developed in a framework of discipline, perseverance, determination of change and open mind. Once the inertia of sobriety has been reached, a phenomenon of progressive emotional growth is reached that has no limits and that will lead the person to the final goal of the treatment to achieve happiness.