Why are my husband’s emotions like a roller coaster?

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Why are my husband’s emotions like a roller coaster?

by Bethany


My husband just reached one year of sobriety from heroin. His emotions are all over the place. I’m not sure how much more of this I can take. He had twenty years of sobriety from cocaine. Has anyone else experienced this?

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AA has a term called “dry drunk” which may describe your husband’s situation.

by: Debbie Wicker

Dear Bethany,

Addiction recovery is usually a many step process. Sobriety is certainly a very good first step but if the recovery process stops there then it’s common for us to to be angry and emotionally volatile and often depressed because, although we’re not using, the emotional issues that plagued us prior to our addiction haven’t been addressed.

Let me give you an example that might help to explain what your husband is experiencing. Imagine a person is in war zone and they get shot. The wound from the gun has healed but they are still experiencing PTSD… anger, anxiety and depression.

They then decide that using heroin calms their negative symptoms from PTSD. They become heroin addicted and then decide to quit. Because they haven’t addressed their original PTSD symptoms, those symptoms are likely to reoccur. Often causing them to relapse or switch to another addiction to continue their pattern of self-medication.

From what you’ve said, your husband has been addicted to cocaine and then heroin. It sounds like there are some emotional issues that he may be self-medicating? If there is, he needs help for those issues in order to truly be in addiction recovery.

Picture a person who used to be an alcoholic, has stopped drinking, but is still really mean. That’s what AA calls a “Dry Drunk”, not drinking but angry and bitter as a consequence.

I would recommend that you both begin attending 12 step meetings and working the 12 steps. The program is DESIGNED to address this exact issue. It allows us to move into addiction recovery AND emotional recovery. Working the steps help us to break the emotional bondage we’re experiencing.

If you and your husband begin working the steps together, you can hopefully get back on the same page and experience the joy of complete addiction recovery.

Good luck,


Dry drunk

by: Bethany

He was prescribed opioids for back pain and then back surgery. When the pills were cut off he turned to heroin. He states that nothing emotional led to his initial drug use, he enjoyed how it made him feel.

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