Dreams about relapsing are extremely common. In a typical relapse dream, you’ll dream about drinking or using drugs again, feel overcome by fear, guilt, or remorse, then wake up and feel relieved it was only a dream. It’s understandable that people worry about these kinds of dreams, but they’re no cause for concern.
A 2018 study by Massachusetts General Hospital Recovery Research Institute looked at more than 2000 cases of people recovering from substance use disorders to better understand relapse dreams. About a third of these people reported having relapse dreams after they entered recovery.
The study found there were really two factors that determined whether someone is likely to have relapse dreams. Those factors are the intensity of the substance use disorder and how long the person has been in recovery. If you’ve been drinking or using drugs every day for years or even decades, it’s only normal that you dream about it once you quit. The study’s criteria for a more serious substance use disorder was if the person had sought help to quit either from a treatment facility or a mutual aid program such as AA or NA. So if you have sought treatment, it’s extremely likely you will have a relapse dream at some point. The second factor affecting the likelihood of a relapse dream is how long you’ve been in recovery. The longer you’ve been in recovery, the less likely you are to dream about relapse.
People are often afraid that relapse dreams are a sign that they really want to relapse or that it’s just a matter of time. That doesn’t appear to be true. In fact, the opposite may be true. If anything, relapse dreams typically indicate a fear of relapsing. You may still get cravings, but you also have a genuine desire to succeed in recovery. This is why relapse dreams are typically punctuated by intense remorse or disbelief.
The only cause for concern may be if you dream about relapse and don’t feel remorse, or if you wake up and are disappointed it’s a dream. That might indicate some kind of dissatisfaction with recovery. If you’re concerned about relapse dreams you’re having, talk it over with your therapist or group. If you’re sober, in treatment, and participating in your recovery, you’re on the right track. You just have to keep doing what you’re doing. If you’ve gotten a bit complacent, a relapse dream might be a warning to recommit to your recovery plan.
Arbor Behavioral Healthcare offers an integrative and holistic approach to treat substance abuse and a wide variety of addictions, as well as underlying mental health and psychological issues. All of the addiction recovery programs offered by The Arbor are designed to heal the mind, body, and spirit leading to a lifetime of sobriety, health and wellness. If you’re ready to find healing and restoration in a peaceful, loving environment, please call us today at 844-560-7269
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