Drinking Dreams in Recovery from Alcoholism
Most people who are in recovery from alcoholism have drinking dreams from time to time. It can be a truly scary experience, especially when you have been sober for a while. When I first got sober, I used to have drinking dreams much more frequently than I do now, but I do still have them once in a while. My drinking dreams are different now than they used to be, in both frequency and content, but they are always disturbing and sometimes downright traumatizing. So, what is a drinking dream? Why do people in recovery have them and what do they mean? Drinking dreams can be very upsetting, but when you know what they are and that they are a normal part of recovery, you’ll be better armed to deal with them.
What Is a Drinking Dream?
A drinking dream is a dream in which a person in recovery dreams that they drink alcohol again after becoming sober. It can also include acting in old behaviors that the person used to engage in while drinking. For example, it could include lying, fighting, being arrested, etc.
These dreams can be devastating. I speak from experience when I say that it’s traumatic to wake up and think that I had been drinking after fighting so hard for my sobriety. However, once I’m fully awake, I’m always extremely relieved to realize that it was just a dream and I’m still sober.
What Do Drinking Dreams Mean?
When I was in early sobriety, I had drinking dreams regularly and they always involved the act of drinking. Sometimes they included dealing with the day after a night of drinking – the hangover and trying to piece together what happened the night before while I was in a blackout. The dreams at that point in my recovery were usually about the things I did during my active drinking.
As time has gone on, I have fewer dreams about booze, and they don’t usually involve the actual act of drinking anymore. Now, when I have drinking dreams, it’s usually the day after drinking and I have all the feelings of guilt, shame, disappointment, and anger. The feelings of self-loathing are overwhelming, and even though I feel relieved when I wake up and realize it was a dream, I have trouble shaking them.
So, what do these drinking dreams mean? Honestly, I don’t know. It would be nice if I had a solid answer for you, but I don’t. If you do an online search about drinking dreams, you’ll find that there’s a lot of disagreement about what they mean. Some people believe that drinking dreams are a warning about an impending relapse and that the dreamer should seek support quickly. While I can concede that sometimes that might be true, I don’t believe that it always is.
I think that, for the most part, drinking dreams are a normal part of recovery and that they serve to remind us about the life that we don’t want to return to. I know that when I wake up from them, they never make me want to go out and get a drink. Rather, the exact opposite happens, they make me feel extremely grateful that I’m sober and that I don’t have to live like that anymore.
Final Thoughts About Drinking Dreams in Sobriety
I’ve come to accept that drinking dreams might always be a part of my life, even if I only have them rarely. While I certainly don’t enjoy having them, I choose to believe that they are serving an important purpose. They remind me where I came from and where I never want to go back to. They make it even easier to appreciate the life I have in recovery.
DeLoe, J. (2019, May 9). Drinking Dreams in Recovery from Alcoholism, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2022, October 2 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/debunkingaddiction/2019/5/drinking-dreams-in-recovery-from-alcoholism
Author: Jami DeLoe
I’m 19 years sober and just had a drinking dream last night… dreamt about the aftermath of drinking not the actual act, but still horrible. I hadn’t had one for years and years and it shook me up. So reassuring to know it’s happened to others after a while in sobriety too. Thank you 🙏🏻
I found this page after searching for the reason I had this exact experience last night. I woke up thinking I was hungover and the absolute horror I felt was dreadful. It's lingered all day and I hoped to find answers. Although I didn't find any (because there is no solid answer) I do feel somewhat comforted knowing that this is normal in the early stages of recovery (36 days in).