I find this to be a particularly interesting part of recovery (especially the early stages). As I am so freshly away from alcohol, my mind has not had much time to cycle it out of my subconscious (or conscious) thinking. Having an addiction to it, my mind tells my body that I still crave it, even when not actively thinking about a drink. So this will often manifest in my mind when it is at its most vulnerable – during periods of REM sleep.
I’ve heard recovering alcoholics discuss it previously, so I know that it’s something that will decrease in frequency or completely become a non-event, as time goes by. But I have been having a lot of them recently, so I brought it up in today’s meeting. Dreams can range from mildly amusing to intensely visceral.
Some recovering alcoholics will say that because these dreams are in fact not a reality, you get a “freebie” drunk out of them. Others will say the feeling of waking up scared and disoriented, wondering whether it may have been real, is seriously disconcerting.
The stuff of…nightmares?
The thing is, these dreams rarely (if ever) will depict the consequences of our alcohol abuse – only the fun, enjoyable situations. The disease will continue trying to plant that seed in the mind, over and over. So while mentally you may “get away with it,” it’s vital to remember it can never cross over into reality. Some of my recent drinking/drunk dreams:
– A flood had hit the small town where I attended college, so I went over to a neighboring frat house to loot some liquor bottles. Upon returning with them, however, I declined to drink from them, knowing it was wrong for me to do so.
– Vague recollection of working security at a night club and being invited to an afterparty, where plenty of illicit substances were going around. Don’t remember consuming anything.
– Another instance of being back in my college town. All up and down Court Street (a well known student housing/party area) there was something like a Mardi Gras celebration going on. I remember walking up the hill and being tossed a beer, which I held (as to fit in) but did not drink from. Upon reaching the top, I went into a familiar house where an old friend was unpacking belongings to move in. Outside, someone had crashed their SUV into a telephone pole. Upon going to check it out, I discovered 3 more old friends in the car, each with their own handle of Jack. No memory of drinking though.
– Something about living in a mansion with a manservant, who was instructed that though there was alcohol in the house, I was not to touch it. I managed to sneak a bottle away, and spend the remainder of the dream moving it to different hiding places around the mansion. No recollection of drinking from it.
– Being at a small party with friends where craft beer was offered to me. I took one and sipped casually, but when the females left the room I proceeded to pound a bottle of cheap beer.
Reviewing these details, I can pick out a few common themes: college partying; being aware that I have chosen sobriety and that to drink is wrong; secrecy, isolation, hiding; shamefully hiding my ugly habit from members of the opposite sex.
While I don’t dwell on this, it is interesting to note what my subconscious is still kicking around. And honestly it’s nice to be having dreams at all; a big reason I would drink daily was that especially at night, I needed it to basically knock myself out so I could get some semblance of sleep. But of course it was never good, quality sleep. I’m currently taking a prescription sleep aid which has helped a lot in that department, and is much more natural. I’ve always been a night owl with mild insomnia, so this is a healthy step forward for me.