After recovering from substance abuse, having dreams about relapse and using again can feel terrifying. It takes a great deal of effort to become sober, so the last thing anyone wants is to go through a relapse – or even entertain the thought of it. While this type of dream is horrible to experience, it is actually quite normal.
How Many People Dream About Relapsing?
Studies show that these disruptive dreams are more common when people are just starting out in recovery. Individuals with a history of severe substance abuse are more likely to have this type of dream. An estimated one out of three people who undergo addiction treatment have this kind of dream at the beginning of the recovery process.
This type of intensive dream is extremely traumatic for people who have stopped using drugs. Even though someone has made the decision to quit, they can still have distressing dreams about using drugs or drinking alcohol. Scientists know that these kinds of dreams about relapse are quite normal, but they are still uncertain about the exact effect they have on the individual.
Scientists are still working to figure out what role these dreams play in someone’s chances of actually relapsing. While the dreams seem to gradually go away over time, many people have relapse dreams years after they become sober. For some, these dreams are disconcerting and distressing. Unfortunately, the stress caused by these dreams can even make someone more likely to relapse, so it is important for individual’s to get help right away and find the right recovery support.
How Do These Dreams Work?
For the most part, relapse dreams go through a fairly similar pattern no matter who has them. After becoming sober, the individual has a dream that they are drinking or using drugs again. They begin to feel guilty, ashamed or panicked because of their dream.
When the individual wakes up, they often feel better because they realize it was just a dream. Unfortunately, this dream can also be stressful. The individual may question why they dream about using when they want to remain sober. They may also experience cravings following the dream.
While these kinds of dreams are overwhelming to go through, they tend to decrease as someone continues in their recovery process. The individual may still dream of using years later, but the overall frequency of the dreams will be much lower. Scientists may not know how dreams really work yet, but they assume that there is a reason why these dreams disappear as someone stays sober for a longer time period. Over time, they think that the individual’s body and mind adjusts to being sober. Withdrawal symptoms and psychological disturbances gradually go away as the individual learns how to live a sober lifestyle.
It is entirely possible that these relapse dreams are just another part of the healing process. After living with an addiction for months or years, it naturally takes the individual time to recover. These dreams might be another sign that the mind is starting to stabilize and develop a new way of approaching the world.
Finding Help and Preventing a Relapse
After experiencing these dreams, individuals may feel a lasting sense of guilt or panic. The dream may reawaken a desire to use drugs or alcohol again. Because stress and triggers are linked to relapsing, it is important that individuals seek help right away. By getting help, individuals can talk through their concerns and prevent a trigger from affecting their sobriety.
A counselor, rehab or trusted friend can help individuals work through difficult dreams and experiences during their recovery. If you are experiencing dreams about substance abuse or are struggling to stay sober, Ocean Hills Recovery can help. Call us today to learn about the many ways we can work to assist you on your path to sobriety.
About the author:
Greg opened his home and heart to alcoholics and addicts in 2003. He is a Certified Addictions Treatment Counselor (CATCI). Starting in 2009 Greg has fostered the growth of Ocean Hills Recovery into one of the most respected and effective treatment centers in the area and has been working with people with addictions since March of 2001. Greg believes in a holistic approach to recovery. His focus is on drug alcohol addiction treatment with a combination of 12 Step work, therapy and counseling, and the rejuvenation of the body through healthful eating and exercise. He has designed his program to foster a family-like atmosphere and believes that people in recovery are just beginning their lives. He encourages the people he works with to learn to enjoy life in sobriety. Greg is married to Nicole; they have two adorable sons together and an energetic yellow Labrador Retriever.