There are few things spookier than waking up in a puddle of cold sweat, unsure as to whether or not you actually took those pills or drank that martini, or if it was all just a disturbingly vivid dream. Sometimes dreaming up a realistic and devastating relapse can throw your whole day off; leave an unsettled feeling in the pit of your stomach – a lingering feeling that something is off. Do relapse dreams hold any validity? Do they signal that something is off-kilter, that you may need to adjust your program and start attending more 12-step meetings or calling your sponsor more frequently? Even those who have maintained meaningful and solid sobriety for years and years are prone to occasional relapse dreams. While there is no finite scientific evidence proving the reason behind dreams, here are several conclusions as to why recovering addicts and alcoholics may continue to have relapse dreams long after sobering up.
Reasons Why We Have Relapse Dreams
- For addicts and alcoholics who have been using drugs and alcohol for many years of their lives, using in general undoubtedly took up the majority of their time. It is understandable, therefore, that because substance abuse was such a major part of their lives they continue to dream of using long after becoming sober.
- Despite sobriety, the subconscious mind may continue to associate the use of drugs and alcohol with pleasure, manifesting use as physical reward in material for dreams.
- Dreams are often a subconscious interpretation of events that happened throughout the day. If something happened that reminded you of using, you may dream of drug or alcohol-related events based on your experiences.
- When an individual is going through an especially stressful time, it is more likely that he or she will experience relapse dreams. This may be an indication that coping skills lack, and it is important for him or her to develop more efficient and successful ways of handling stress.
The Benefit of Relapse Dreams
There is no question – relapse dreams are often quite unsettling, and can even be terrifying for those who have dedicated large amounts of time and effort to maintaining sobriety. However, there are actually several benefits to dreaming about relapse. If an individual wakes up from a relapse dream feeling anxious and disconcerted, it is a good indicator that they are taking their recovery seriously. It can be a useful reminder of the emotional devastation that will likely take place if they do pick up without actually experiencing any severe consequences. If you dream you have relapsed, don’t panic – it doesn’t mean you are close to relapsing. Simply be aware of the feelings you experienced upon waking and share the occurrence with someone close to you.