Waking up from a Dream About Relapse: What To Do

What to Do When You Have a Dream About Relapsing

By Jennifer McDougall

When people are in the early stages of recovery, they may have dreams that they’ve relapsed. These dreams can come with symptoms related to drug and alcohol use. When this happens, individuals in sobriety usually wake up feeling guilty and confused. What causes these dreams? And what should you do if you are experiencing them in recovery?

There are three main reasons why people relapsed during recovery. The first is fear. The second is shame. And the third is anxiety.

The most effective way to overcome fear is to remain open to new ideas. Everyone can succeed at stopping drug use, but only a few people learn how to do so.

Unlike AA (Alcoholics Anonymous), we do not believe relapse is part of recovery at Passages. We do not believe you have to relapse to heal or grow. Instead, we believe that if a person relapses on drugs or alcohol, an unhealed issue rises to the surface. If an individual cannot cope or properly navigate healthily, relapse is very likely to happen.

That is why at Passages, we provide the tools you need to learn and understand how to deal with complex challenges that happen. We also offer a comprehensive Aftercare plan for all clients before they graduate and head home after treatment.

Relapse dreams are pretty prevalent in those who are recovering from addiction. In a common relapse dream, you may use drugs or alcohol again, then wake up feeling glad that it was all a dream. Many individuals are anxious about experiencing relapse dreams, despite the comfort that it was only a dream. They’re disturbing in and of themselves, but you might question whether they’re a warning that your recovery isn’t progressing as planned or that you’re about to relapse in real life.

Most individuals in addiction recovery have expectations for their transformation of peace, euphoria, and healing to happen rapidly. They realize that recovery is a process; healing from substance abuse-related issues does not happen overnight. Healing takes time. Anyone who is in recovery needs to practice patience with themselves. These high expectations can be what causes a person to dream of relapse. The fear individuals have of relapsing can also be another factor.

Although relapse dreams are prevalent, little research has been done into why they occur or how they affect recovery. Researchers at the Massachusetts General Hospital Recovery Research Institute wanted to find out more, looking at over 2000 people recovering from addiction throughout the country. After starting recovery, roughly a third of these 2000 people had a relapse dream. Addiction counselors frequently say that nearly all of their clients have experienced a relapse dream at some point. Other findings in the study may help to explain the discrepancy.

When you’re relearning how to exert control over automatic behavior, you’re effectively relearning how to assert control over mechanical behavior. Likewise, REM sleep helps your brain consolidate new knowledge when you’re learning a new skill.

Why Dreams of a Relapse Happens

  • New to sobriety
  • You are in mourning or grieving a loss
  • Subtle triggers
  • You are stressed
  • Experiencing cravings

What To Do If You’re Having Dreams of a Relapse

  • Write it down
  • Talk to someone you trust, such as a friend or therapist.
  • Identify the triggers
  • Work on healing unresolved trauma or underlying issues
  • Adjust your nightly routine
  • Surround yourself with support
  • Recommit to your recovery
  • Tighten up your relapse prevention plan
  • Ask for help

How to Contact Passages Malibu

Call Passages Addiction Treatment Centers today if you or a loved one is battling an addiction to drugs and alcohol. Our admissions department is available 24/7 and can be reached directly by calling our toll-free number (888) 397–0112. We look forward to speaking with you soon.

Passages, Where Addiction Ends and Life Begins™

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