What Is the Significance of Relapse Dreams in Early Recover?
Early in your recovery, drug and alcohol dreams are a fairly common occurrence. They can feel so real that you may even wake up thinking that you lost your clean time because you relapsed. However, once you discover that it was just a dream, your anxiety and fear can lower.
There actually can be some positive reasons why these dreams occur in the first place. Here are some common reasons that these types of dreams occur and what you can do about them.
Dreams About Using Can Be a Collection of Memories
Your brain could just be putting together memories from when you were using or drinking and processing them while you’re asleep. While in active addiction, drugs and alcohol suppress the brain’s ability to dream. Therefore, these dreams could be old memories and people from your past. Let’s say that you spent a significant amount of time using or drinking. In that case, dreaming about using or drinking can be your brain’s way of reorganizing some of those suppressed memories. The brain does this with all dreams, so dreaming about using or drinking does not imply that you will relapse.
Dreams Can Indicate How Serious You Are About Your Recovery
Suppose you genuinely dedicate yourself to your recovery, and you happen to have drugging or drinking dreams. In that case, they can be positive affirmations that you are on the right track in your treatment process. In addition, if you turned the drug or drink down in the dream, that can be a significant step forward in your recovery process. Regardless, you are unconsciously saying no!
Although you may still wake up with anxiety or guilt from the dream, it may not be a negative sign. A study in the “Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment” suggests that as the body and mind gradually adapt to abstinence dreams that result in negative feelings will decrease. This study reinforces the fact that these dreams happen in early recovery. Still, there is a good chance that the longer that you remain clean and sober, the fewer of these dreams you will have to experience.
You Could Be Experiencing Cravings
Sometimes, drinking or using in your dreams can be caused by your body or brain craving the chemicals. Although you are now sober, the brain has not learned how to adapt to a new chemical makeup. These dreams do not mean that you have to use or drink again. You need to be strong and prevail on your path to recovery, and they will eventually decrease over time.
There are numerous ways to help your brain focus on other things when these cravings hit, like reading a book or journaling. It is crucial to change the way you think to change how you react to stress and cravings in recovery.
Your Brain Is Healing
Just like your body is healing from abstaining from drugs and alcohol, so is your brain. People dream during rapid eye movement, or REM, sleep. REM sleep is your body’s way of reprogramming itself at night. Your brain needs to recharge itself for the next day, so when you dream about doing drugs or drinking, this could be your brain healing itself.
Healing is a positive thing, but it can take time, especially if you were using drugs or alcohol over a long period. Although you may feel some negative emotions when you wake up from a relapse dream, this healing process can also be a way to purge unwanted feelings.
Dreams About Using Can Make You Stronger
Sometimes, when we have nightmares, it can prepare us for real-life events that can be hard or scary to face. A study conducted by the Université de Genève on dreams and fear reported that humans simulate negative situations in order to better react once awake.
The dreams that you are having about drugs and alcohol can prepare you to deal with the temptation of those in your waking life. When someone is new to recovery, there is a great fear of falling back into the old pattern of behaviors. These dreams can help you face the fear of relapse when the scenario presents itself.
Easing the Discomfort Caused by Relapse Dreams
Taking care of your body is the most crucial step to living your life sober. If you’re focusing on yourself, you are equipping your mind to dismiss those cravings. Below are some ways to practice self-care techniques that can assist you in fighting the negative emotions that arise when you have drugging or drinking dreams.
Get Enough Sleep and Set a Daily Routine
Sleep is the body’s way of recharging itself. If you are not getting enough sleep at night, how will you focus on your recovery? Eight hours or so of sleep every night will help your body function at its best. It can also become part of forming a daily routine, which helps too.
While you were using, you most likely did not have a healthy daily routine. Children need structure to grow, and parents provide daily patterns to know what to expect every day. Routine can also help recovering addicts in the same way. Having a routine every day is safe because you know how the day will go. Therefore, you have more time to focus on recovery rather than trying to plan each day as you go.
Make and Keep Regular Doctor Appointments
When you first get sober, you may have some mental or physical health issues that you ignored while addicted. It is an excellent practice to get to a doctor, make sure that everything is working the way it should, and follow up when needed. If you need any medication, make sure you take it properly and get your refills.
Your recovery will be much easier if you don’t need to worry about health problems. If using or drinking dreams concerns you, finding a mental health therapist to help you process them and share your fears could be a wise choice.
Exercising may be one of the more challenging self-care practices for you, but it is one of the best ways to help you stay sober. When you exercise, your body produces adrenaline, which makes you feel good. If you have any drugging or drinking dreams, exercise is a perfect way to get your mind focused on something else. Exercise is good for blood flow and your heart too, and since exercise is known to help you sleep better, you could experience fewer relapse dreams with consistent, vigorous exercise.
Do Meditation or Yoga
Meditation and yoga help you relax. When you are new to recovery, some emotions come back up that make you uncomfortable. Meditation is a fantastic way to clear your mind of all those worries, and it can also fight off any cravings associated with your drugging or drinking dreams.
Yoga can help you focus on the present. Practicing yoga can help you learn to concentrate on your mind and body by paying attention to your breath and mindfulness. Yoga is an excellent tool to reduce stress and give you a sense of well-being that you deserve in your recovery process.
These are just a few ways to practice self-care to help you continue your recovery journey. By keeping your body and mind in good shape, you can resist the urge to fall back into those old habits. Drugging and drinking dreams can be bothersome, but remember that they should decrease the longer you stay clean.
Where Can You Turn for Help?
Anyone can decide to stop drinking or using drugs, but staying that way might be challenging. If you want to start the recovery process, a detox facility should be your first stop.
Medically detoxing is the only way to begin a brand-new way of life. Withdrawal from drugs and alcohol is not only a painful experience, but it is not safe to stop abruptly in some cases. After a safe medical detox, the second step should be an inpatient or a residential drug rehab center.
These facilities can help you learn to live again in a safe environment. They can teach you how to reprogram your thinking and actions. These treatment options will also focus on any medical areas in your life that you may have neglected while you were using drugs and alcohol.
Sometimes, substance use disorders can co-occur with other mental health disorders. You can obtain proper treatment during your stay in these programs.
Going back home after treatment may not be safe for your recovery for various reasons. Sober living homes can be a great transition from treatment into the real world.
Recovery Is Possible
If you are struggling with substance use disorder and want help, there are many different treatment options available to help you get your life back. Here at Granite Recovery Centers, we know how tough battling addiction can be on your own, and we want to help you. We can help you decide which treatment option will work best for your recovery, and we’ll be by your side as you strive to overcome your substance dependence.