At the beginning of a person’s recovery journey, there’s likely to be some changes—both small and large—that take some getting used to. Since substances can have such a major impact on the mind and body, those in recovery are likely to battle with some initial transformative experiences that must take place in order to set that individual up for success in healing and restoration; it’s not uncommon for those in recovery to have difficulty sleeping at night, and relapse dreams occur more frequently than you might think.
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Prevalence of Relapse Dreams
Several studies have explored the common experience of relapse dreams amongst those in addiction recovery and have found that about 85% of those who’ve battled with alcohol or other substance abuse will experience a “using dream”—especially during the very beginning stages of their recovery process. It’s incredibly scary for those who experience this for the first time, especially if they’re afraid that it’s really happened and that they’ve gone backwards in treatment.
Despite the fear that’s behind these types of dreams, they’re quite harmless because they don’t actually entail a person using. In fact, it can be helpful to explore the pattern of these relapse dreams when they occur, so that a person can learn more about themselves and their recovery. It can also be helpful to understand why relapse dreams occur, and when:
- For many people, nighttime is when they use substances the most, which means their body is going to be more awake the later it gets.
- Withdrawal symptoms can peak around this time, making it hard to sleep.
- Relapse dreams can cause a lot of tossing and turning at night.
It’s incredibly nerve-wracking to be in the middle of a relapse dream, to wake up sweating and anxious out of fear that you’ve reverted back to drinking or abusing drugs, and you may even find that some of your relapse dreams are quite similar in nature.
Moving Past Relapse Dreams
While it’s certainly frustrating to receive these types of dreams so early on in recovery, when you’re so desperately trying to move on with your life and take the steps to create the life you’ve always wanted, the reality is that these dreams won’t last forever. If you think about it, much of your substance abuse journey has taken time to develop, and it’s going to be that same way in recovery as well. You may receive some “using dreams” from time to time, but they’re likely to diminish as your recovery progresses. In a way, it could also be your mind’s way of trying to work through the fact that you’re pursuing sobriety now—and after having been living in a pattern of using substances for quite some time, it will take a while for your mind, body and spirit to adjust.
Part of moving past these relapse dreams is talking about them. If you have a 12-Step sponsor through a program such as Alcoholics Anonymous, you can talk to them about your experience. In most cases, you’ll probably find that you’re not the only person who’s gone through something like this. It can be refreshing to get it off your chest, in addition to knowing that you’re not alone. You can also talk about this type of experience in therapy, as your therapist will be able to give you some crucial insights into your relapse dreams and these can also give hints as to what may be currently lingering in the back of your mind—tools that you can learn to prevent relapse.
A Life of Recovery
The reality of recovery is that it’s a lifelong journey filled with so many ups and downs; nobody can ever be truly prepared for what they experience along the way to recovery. However, there are so many different tools, resources and forms of support that can help you navigate the way—and by optimizing what’s around you, you’ll be more prepared for success.
At Renewal Lodge, there is an entire team of professionals who will be right by your side, to help you through these types of situations. In some ways, it’s about taking a step back and recognizing that it’s not you who is relapsing—it’s simply a dream, and now it’s up to you to learn from that dream and take the steps needed to ensure that you remain on the road of recovery. Take deep breaths and understand that while you can’t prevent these dreams from happening, you can take optimal care of your mental, physical and spiritual wellness so that you’re becoming stronger and more resilient than you ever thought you could be.
If you’re ready to seek help, speak with a professional from Renewal Lodge today.
If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction and mental health issues, a quality treatment program can provide you with strategies for maintaining long-term sobriety. At Renewal Lodge by Burning Tree, you will find a team of compassionate, knowledgeable professionals ready to coach each client through the 12-Steps and beyond. By structuring treatment to fit individual needs, including the identification of co-occurring disorders, Burning Tree facilitates an environment of healing and holistic wellness. Here, our clients tackle their addictions head-on and harness the power to restructure their lives through high accountability and life skills that foster lasting sobriety. We specialize in treatment for the chronic relapser and believe that with the right tools, you can put an end to the cycle of addiction.