Does Dreaming About Past Drug Use Mean You Are Heading for Relapse?

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, help is available. Speak with a Recovery Advocate by calling (719) 602-0914 now.

Updated 08/02/2022

Many in recovery experience vivid drug-related dreams, and they naturally wonder if their dreams mean they are more likely to resume use in real life or whether relapse is inevitable. Dreaming that you have returned to former drug or alcohol use can be upsetting and cause you to second-guess your recovery or your state of mind.

What Drug-Use Dreams May Mean

In any given circumstance, a dream about using drugs may have a number of different meanings. While drug use dreams can signify intensified cravings, they can also have other meanings or even be a way your mind deals with cravings without actually beginning to use substances again.

Drug use dreams could also be a way that worries about relapsing manifest themselves, particularly when you are repressing them during your waking hours. In some cases, the subconscious part of your brain may still be processing the changes brought about by seeking treatment, and dreams about using drugs may be one way that processing comes to the surface.

Most experts agree that the important part about having dreams of drug use is the way the dreamer responds to the dream. If you respond with heightened anxiety or dread and begin to focus on thoughts that a recurrence of use is inevitable, you may indeed experience addiction relapse. If you seek help for anxious feelings and for any cravings the dreams cause to bubble up in you, or if you can let go of the feelings the dreams bring up, your chances of maintaining your sobriety will be far greater.

Getting adequate sleep can help deal with cravings and temptations.

Research About Drug Use Dreams and Addiction Relapse

In general, research has shown that having drug use dreams may increase the risk of recurrence of use for some in recovery. The strongest correlation between drug use dreams and relapse is among those who have used cocaine and heroin because these substances are some of the most addictive drugs used.

For many other drugs and alcohol, the effect is much weaker and may not even be statistically significant. Because dreams may trigger memories, however, they could very well bring up cravings that need to be dealt with in some form to avoid using substances again. In no way does having cravings mean that relapse is inevitable, however. Most people in addiction treatment have ongoing cravings that they must resist to maintain their sobriety. Dreams are only one thing out of many that may trigger cravings and cause those in recovery to struggle.

If you are having dreams about using drugs, you are not noticing cravings, and you feel secure in your sobriety, you likely do not have anything to worry about as far as recurrence of use is concerned. If you are disturbed by drug-use dreams, you are experiencing cravings after having them, and you are beginning to doubt your sobriety, you can get help from your treatment provider to stabilize your mind and recover your equilibrium.

Drug use dreams are only one of many challenges to your recovery, and they can be handled successfully like other challenges you face. The Recovery Village at Palmer Lake can provide Colorado addiction treatment resources that will help you through each step of your recovery process.  Contact us today.

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