Relapse Dreams and Sleep: What You Should Do If You Have Them

What to do when you have a relapse dream

Have you ever been so preoccupied with a certain situation that it appeared in your dreams? If so, you’re not alone; in 2017, Tonic, a division of Vice Magazine, reported that about 85% of people in addiction recovery will have a “using” dream – otherwise known as a relapse dream – within their first two months of sobriety. It’s normal for many people recovering from alcoholism and other substance use disorders (SUDs) to struggle with sleeping in general; in many cases, addiction forces a person to lose a lot of sleep – or at least experience a lot of broken sleep – which can take up to a year to recover from and to get back into a normal cycle.

Even in the early stages of dependency, the obsession for using a substance can start to take hold. The mental obsession develops before the physical dependency, which can serve as a sign that an unhealthy relationship with drugs and alcohol has taken hold.

Previous research has cited that dreams can be particularly vivid, especially when a person has experienced ongoing accounts of poor sleep. The relapse dreams that occur are less romanticized and more fearful – and in many instances, feelings of guilt show up – especially if the dream feels so real that a person is afraid they may have truly relapsed. Researchers recently published a study in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, which found that individuals who have recurring relapse dreams tend to have struggled with more severe substance use histories.

The next time you have a relapse dream, what should you do?

First and foremost, take a deep breath. Relapse didn’t happen – and even if it did, you would have an entire support system at Cumberland Heights whom you could rely on to help you get back on track. Talk to your therapist about what you’re going through. Connect with your peers in recovery, and continue eating and exercising, practicing good sleep hygiene and don’t give up on your recovery.

Cumberland Heights in Nashville, Tennessee on Music Row is a 12-Step based alcohol & drug rehab program. Cumberland Heights’ Intensive Outpatient Program is designed for individuals 18 and above who may be in the early stages of dependency or are experiencing problems with alcohol or drug use. We offer personalized assessments and treatment plans, as well as convenient evening hours to accommodate your workday schedule. To get started on your recovery journey today, call us at 1-800-646-9998.