Dry - Summary

Augusten Burroughs

Dry Book Cover


In the memoir “Dry” by Augusten Burroughs, the author takes us on a deeply personal journey through his struggle with alcoholism and his path to sobriety. With his signature wit and honesty, Burroughs shares his experiences of hitting rock bottom, seeking help, and ultimately finding redemption. Through vivid anecdotes and powerful storytelling, the author provides a raw and unfiltered account of his battle with addiction, offering valuable insights into the complexities of alcoholism and the importance of recovery.

Burroughs’ Battle with Alcoholism

Burroughs begins his memoir by painting a vivid picture of his life as an alcoholic. He describes his dependence on alcohol to cope with the challenges and disappointments in his life, using humor to mask the underlying pain. Through his anecdotes, he illustrates the destructive nature of addiction, showcasing the chaos and turmoil it brings to his relationships, career, and overall well-being.

One example that stands out is Burroughs’ encounter with a homeless man named Pighead. In a moment of desperation, Burroughs finds himself drinking mouthwash to satisfy his craving for alcohol. This shocking revelation highlights the depths to which addiction can drive a person and the extreme measures they may take to feed their habit.

Seeking Help and the Road to Recovery

Recognizing the need for change, Burroughs decides to seek help and enters a rehabilitation facility. Here, he introduces readers to a cast of characters - both fellow patients and staff - who play a significant role in his journey towards sobriety. Through their interactions and shared experiences, Burroughs sheds light on the challenges and triumphs of the recovery process.

One particularly poignant moment occurs when Burroughs attends a group therapy session where patients are encouraged to share their stories. As he listens to others recount their struggles, he realizes that he is not alone in his battle against addiction. This realization serves as a turning point for Burroughs, inspiring him to confront his demons and commit to a life of sobriety.

The Role of Relationships in Recovery

Throughout “Dry,” Burroughs emphasizes the importance of relationships in the recovery process. He explores the impact of his alcoholism on his friendships, romantic relationships, and family dynamics. By sharing his experiences, he underscores the destructive nature of addiction and the toll it takes on those closest to the addict.

One notable example is Burroughs’ relationship with his partner, Piggy. As Burroughs grapples with his addiction, their relationship becomes strained, and Piggy’s patience wears thin. Through this narrative, Burroughs highlights the challenges faced by loved ones who must navigate the complexities of supporting someone in recovery.

Overcoming Challenges and Embracing Sobriety

As Burroughs progresses through his recovery, he confronts numerous challenges and temptations that threaten his newfound sobriety. He candidly shares his relapses, offering a realistic portrayal of the setbacks often encountered on the path to recovery. However, he also demonstrates the resilience and determination necessary to overcome these obstacles.

One memorable anecdote involves Burroughs’ encounter with a former lover who offers him a drink. In this moment, Burroughs is faced with a choice - to succumb to temptation or to stay committed to his sobriety. Through his decision to decline the drink, Burroughs showcases the strength and growth he has achieved throughout his journey.

The Importance of Self-Reflection and Acceptance

Throughout “Dry,” Burroughs emphasizes the significance of self-reflection and acceptance in the recovery process. He delves into his past, examining the root causes of his addiction and the underlying emotional pain that fueled it. By confronting his past and embracing his vulnerabilities, Burroughs begins to heal and rebuild his life.

One powerful example is Burroughs’ exploration of his troubled relationship with his father. Through introspection, he recognizes the impact of his father’s absence and the subsequent void he attempted to fill with alcohol. This self-awareness allows Burroughs to confront his past and work towards forgiveness and healing.


In “Dry,” Augusten Burroughs offers readers a captivating and honest account of his battle with alcoholism and his journey to sobriety. Through his use of anecdotes and personal experiences, he sheds light on the complexities of addiction and the challenges faced by those seeking recovery. Burroughs’ memoir serves as a powerful reminder of the strength of the human spirit and the possibility of redemption, leaving readers with a newfound understanding and empathy for those grappling with addiction.

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