man awake after bad dreamsWhile many people fret over the physical withdrawal symptoms that come with a drug detox, the psychological toll of quitting an addiction may be even more challenging at times. Depression and anxiety can fill your early days in recovery. While sleep can provide you with temporary relief from these emotions, for some their dreams in recovery may be just as scary.

What Are Drug Relapse Dreams?

Using dreams is when someone has a dream about taking drugs. These dreams are especially common for someone in the early stages of addiction recovery and are often referred to as drug relapse dreams. Many recovering alcoholics will also have drinking dreams in sobriety. People who have relapse dreams in recovery often report that these dreams are especially vivid and can be upsetting.

A study of American adults who used to have a significant substance abuse condition found that about one-third reported having dreams about relapsing.1 Fortunately, dreaming about drugs after quitting tends to decrease in frequency the longer someone is in recovery.

Addiction relapse dreams may occur for several different reasons and be more likely if someone is:

  • New to recovery
  • Had a more severe addiction
  • Dealing with high stress
  • Exposed to drug triggers
  • Experiencing strong drug cravings
  • Facing emotional distress

 

What Do Relapse Dreams Mean?

The exact meaning of relapse dreams is unknown. Some people believe that dreams about getting high or drinking when in recovery could be a look into the unconscious mind and an early predictor of relapse. Others suggest that having relapse dreams in recovery make the individual hypervigilant and more cautious about their sobriety. As a result, these using dreams in recovery may decrease the risk of relapse. Research on the topic is lacking and shows the same mixed results.

Everyone is unique and follows their own recovery path. Relapse dreams have different meanings for different people and will also cause people to react in different ways. If you are dreaming of doing drugs or drinking when you are in recovery, you should take steps to ensure that your reaction strengthens your recovery instead of jeopardizing it.

What to Do If You Have Dreams About Relapsing

The scariest dream for someone in recovery may be one about using drugs or drinking once more. Waking up, many people feel a sense of relief that it was in fact just a dream but are also unnerved and not sure what to do next.

If you are one of these people experiencing drug relapse dreams, it is okay to feel these mixed emotions, but there are ways to deal with these dreams so they do not deter your recovery.

Relax or Meditate

Waking up from a relapse dream may lead to panic and stress, but try not to let these emotions overwhelm you. These types of dreams happen to many people in recovery and do not mean you will relapse. Take deep breathes or meditate to try to release these negative emotions from your mind.

Talk it Out

These dreams may be connected to underlying issues that you have yet to work through. When you have a dream about relapsing in recovery, write it down so you can talk about it more easily at a recovery meeting or one-on-one with a therapist. Talking about these dreams can help you dissect them and work through any problems they bring up. You may also find that others who have had similar relapse dreams and understand what you are going through.

Take Precaution

Drug relapse dreams may be a sign that you are facing triggers that could be putting you at a higher risk of relapse. It might be a good idea to attend a few extra recovery meetings or even start an intensive outpatient program to get ahead of a potential relapse.

Examine Why

Especially if you do not have drinking dreams or dreams about drugs that often in recovery, it may be helpful to try to determine what brought the dream on. Were you in a triggering environment that day? Are you facing unusual amounts of stress? Have you been neglecting your self-care routine? When you can start to decipher the source of a relapse dream, you can learn more about what triggers cravings and how to cope with them.

Drug relapse dreams can be unnerving, but they should not mean the end of your sobriety. If you are looking for continued support in recovery, our drug rehab in Massachusetts may be able to help. With a full continuum of care, we will find you the right care for your needs. Contact us today to get started.