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Is it Normal to Dream About Relapsing?

Relapse dreams are common in recovery. When you consider the nature of addiction, it would be surprising if they weren’t common. If you had spent years of your life primarily thinking about one thing, quit that thing, then never thought about it again, that would be very strange. Addiction changes your entire way of thinking to accommodate it. Life in recovery means you will be thinking a lot about addiction–what caused it, what it was like to live with, what your triggers were. That thinking doesn’t stop just because you fall asleep.

When people worry about addiction dreams, it’s usually because they are afraid dreaming about relapse means they will relapse in real life. This usually isn’t true. Relapse rates are pretty high during the first year, so it’s possible that someone would both dream about relapsing and actually relapse, but there’s no reason to think dreaming about relapse means it will happen. If you are disturbed about a relapse dream, it probably indicates that you really don’t want to relapse and that desire helps you stay in recovery.

A relapse dream could mean several things or it could mean nothing. It might just be a matter inertia. You were used to doing one particular thing for years and then you stopped doing it. Your brain still has the wiring, so after a period of abstinence–possibly a very short period–it wants to check in with that familiar activity.

A dream could mean you are anxious about relapsing. If you dream about showing up to class in your underwear, that dream is about your anxiety, not a prophecy about showing up to class in your underwear. If the relapse dreams persist, you might want to examine your stress levels. While it’s good to stay motivated and do the things that will keep you in recovery, too much anxiety is counterproductive. Talk to your therapist about it and take a little extra time to relax before bed.

Your dream might be your subconscious trying to help you out. Dreams sometimes show us things we weren’t consciously aware of. We are only aware of a tiny fraction of our sensory data, yet sometimes things we are not aware of still affect us psychologically and physiologically. You may have experienced a trigger during the day that didn’t consciously register. Some sound or smell flipped a switch, but maybe you were not aware of it because you were focused on something else. Maybe you noticed a slight craving, but then forgot about it. Your dream may be telling you there was a trigger you didn’t notice. If you can figure out what it was, you may be better prepared to deal with it.

Your brain doesn’t stop working on problems just because you are asleep. In fact, sleep is often when it does its best work. If you are focused on recovery, your brain will be mulling over this addiction problem all the time. Try to understand what it’s trying to tell you.

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, Gardens Wellness Center can help. We offer medically assisted detox and a variety of therapeutic services in a comfortable, supportive environment. Call us today at 844-828-1050 or email us at to learn more.