It is common for people in recovery from substance use disorders to experience dreams of using drugs or alcohol.  These dreams can feel more like nightmares, and you may wake up relieved that it wasn’t real. In some cases, these dreams can be deeply disturbing and induce fear of relapse.  Some people may worry their dream is a prediction of what’s to come, and this fear can turn into anxiety that is counterproductive to recovery. By understanding what causes relapse dreams and how best to react to them, you can prevent these nighttime stressors from affecting your daytime progress. 

Relapse dreams are especially common in early recovery.  We often dream about what brings us pleasure in life, and addiction can rewire the brain to associate substance abuse with reward.  As you begin to find joy in new activities in a sober lifestyle, dreams of substance abuse may fade away. However, external triggers and highly stressful life circumstances can also bring about these unsettling dreams.  You may want to consider relapse dreams a cue to examine your mental wellness and emotional health, and determine if you need to enlist some additional support from a therapist or support group.

Use Them as an Opportunity

While relapse dreams can be upsetting, how you react to them can make all the difference.  Relapse dreams can increase the likelihood of true relapse if you see them as a bad omen or become incredibly distraught every time they occur, but they can also be used to strengthen your commitment to sobriety.  After being sober for a significant amount of time, it can be easy to become complacent and forget to take care of yourself and your recovery. A relapse dream can be a great reminder to attend an extra meeting or to start meditating.  

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction and mental health issues, now is the time to reach out for help.  At Arbor Behavioral Healthcare, you will meet knowledgeable, compassionate professionals that understand addiction in all its forms.  We use an integrative and holistic approach to treat addiction and mental health issues. No treatment is one-size-fits-all, and at The Arbor, you will have a team of experts prepared to create your customized treatment plan.  We offer care for your mind, body, and spirit so that you can heal from the inside out and look forward to a lifetime of sobriety and wellness. If you are ready to take the first step in your recovery, please call us at 844-413-2690.