A relapse or drug dream is often a very terrifying nightmare experienced by those in recovery from addiction and substance use disorder. Typically, an individual will dream of using drugs that they fought fervently to recover from. These dreams can be so terrifying and vivid even to the extent that the individual wakes up believing they truly relapsed and/or that they’re still lost in the darkness of addiction. Instantaneously upon waking, feelings of distress, regret, and shame come into play. For some, it may take a significant amount of time to recoup from such a dream. In some cases, it takes hours or even days. These dreams may even become triggers for a recovering addict, facilitating the urge to use. So do these drug dreams come true?
What is the Meaning of a Relapse Dream?
Let’s start with the meaning of the word “dream”. Have you ever tried researching it to find a definition? If not give it a try. I assure you the search results are terribly overwhelming. For instance, go to Google, next search the words “dream interpretation”. Overwhelming is putting the results of this search request mildly. Upon my personal search, I found a website named The Dream Dictionary. On this site, I searched the term “drugs”. Here are the results of this search:
“Drugs – Do you have a need to escape reality? Do you want a break away from the normal day to day life? These dreams are hinting at us to explore our consciousness or to wake up and stop living in a dreamland” (“Dreams Starting With D”, 2017).
I personally found this particular definition of a “drug dream” disturbing. I have experienced such dreams of relapse, and I have no need to escape the reality of my life as stated in The Dream Dictionaries definition of this terrifying dream. During my search, it was impossible to find any one cause of such dreams/nightmares. In fact, according to the National Sleep Foundation, several hypotheses have been researched without finding one solid conclusion of the true meaning of dreams “even in the 21st century we still are not sure why we dream. The only way to study dreams is to ask the dreamer. However, one thing we know for sure is that dreaming is something that the vast majority of humans do every night of their lives” (“In Your Dreams, 2017”).
On this particular topic, researchers are left with no choice but to draw their own conclusion based on personal experience and acquired information without one particular explanation. It is said that it is our subconscious mind in one way or another attempting to release itself. When our subconscious mind is released we truly have no idea what may come pouring out. For those in addiction treatment and recovery a certain amount a pride is taken for all that has been achieved to overcome the sins of the past.
The Power and Importance of Forgiveness in Addiction Treatment and Recovery and How it Relates to Drug Dreams
Each, and every day recovering addicts must not only try to move forward from who they were in the past but also find a way to learn how to forgive. Forgiveness is, in fact, one of the hardest boulders to climb and conquer while seeking addiction help and maintaining recovery. The most difficult form of forgiveness to seek is self-forgiveness. While recovering addicts may claim to have forgiven themselves and even try living day to day lives trying to believe, a part of our unconscious mind just cannot let go.
Addicts in long-term recovery often blame themselves for years after they’ve put down their last drug or drink of alcohol. Drug dreams and thought of relapse may just be manifestations of the shame and guilt a recovering addict still sometimes feels inside. And while a dream isn’t real, our minds have the power to make it real if we dwell on it and let it fester in our minds and hearts. Counseling and support from non-judgemental friends can help to alleviate guilt and shame an addict may be feeling. While drug dreams, thoughts of relapse, urges and reservations will never fully dissipate, they won’t occur as often in recovering addicts who keep moving forward in their ongoing addiction treatment and lifelong recovery.
Do Drug Dreams Come True? When Will These Dreams Stop?
Relapse and drug dreams are brought on while the mind attempts to forgive one’s own regrettable actions, mistakes, and decisions made while in the state of active drug addiction. While these dreams are often disturbing and unsettling, and at times they may induce using thoughts, it appears they are a part of the journey of forgiveness and recovery. Recovering addicts have the strength and courage inside of them to prevent drug dreams from coming true. And with time and ongoing recovery work, the frequency of these dreams will continue to lessen.
The day to day life lessons of a recovering addict is subconscious. While the night to night life of a recovering addict is just as necessary and part of the unconscious recovery journey. Dreams are “a means by which the mind works through difficult, complicated, unsettling thoughts, emotions, and experiences, to achieve psychological and emotional balance” (Breus, 2015).
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Written by Norma Garbarek, Recovery Advocate and Writer For Kill the Heroin Epidemic Nationwide™, Heroin News, the National Alliance of Addiction Treatment Centers (NAATC) and New Age Recovery (Facebook Group)
Edited By William Charles, Owner/CEO/Publisher of This Community
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Breus, M. J. (2015, February 13). Why Do We Dream? Retrieved June 06, 2017, from link
Dreams Starting With D. (n.d.). Retrieved June 06, 2017, from link
In Your Dreams. (n.d.). Retrieved June 06, 2017, from link