Addiction to Alcohol/Drinking dreams

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Question
Hi...I'm a recently sober (90 days) female alcoholic.  I have had long bouts of sobriety (as long as ten years), but I've had relapse issues.  I find myself occasionally dreaming I am drinking, or looking for drinks in situations, etc.  Some times I'm very relieved when I wake up and realize it was just a dream, and other times I'm almost "disappointed" or something in the semi-dream state that it is not real.  Kind of hard to explain.  My question is do you feel dreams of this nature are indicators that a relapse is in the back of my mind again?  Thanks.

Answer
Hi there -

Thanks for the question - it lets me know you want to move past where you are.

My sense is that using dreams alone are simply an indicator that you're having using dreams.  I'm not convinced that these dreams are an indicator of anything but your body trying to work itself back to homeostasis, or balance. When you begin to get sober your body will generate various kinds of brain chemistry to support normal functioning.  This functioning happens to develop additional kinds of neural pathways. When these pathways are developed you begin to experience various kinds of manifestations, such as using dreams.

I would not worry about these dreams unless they are very distressing to you. Various kinds of anti-craving medications have been helpful in supporting people to overcome PAWS, or post acute withdrawal syndrome - using dreams are a part of PAWS.   I would invite you to talk to your doctor about anti-craving meds such as Naltrexone, Campral, Prazosin, or Vivitrol, an injectable form of naltrexone.

Be well

Todd

Addiction to Alcohol

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Todd

Expertise

I sense it's important to let you know (upfront) that I don't have a 12-step orientation. I also want to let you know that this system won't allow us to make paragraphs, so I am using ** to separate my thoughts into paragraphs I can answer questions related to getting/staying sober, queries related to support for loved ones, questions on support groups, relapse prevention, communication skills, alcohol and drug pharmacology, spirituality, and finding ways to increase joy within sobriety. I see sobriety as a skill, understand that recovery looks different for everybody, and encourage people to find a sobriety mentor. **It has been my experience that in 12-step groups many people are seen to fail under the guise of a lack of willingness. When I used to attend meetings I'd see many people who were shamed and bullied over various medications they needed to take...telling people they can't take various medications is akin to playing God. I have yet to understand how taking MH meds is any different than taking any other medication which you need to thrive and support your health. **As there is so much shame, stigma, myths, and misinformation in this culture around CD (many of my clients will tell you that it is easier to be mentally ill than it is to have any sort of chemical dependency issue - in some way people are seen to be able to control their alcohol/drug using behaviors..not so with mental illness) folks first need to come to a place where they move beyond the stigma they internalize. **There is a term in social psychology called 'introjection'.....that is, when this culture views something in a certain way, we take on the facets of that stereotype...think about CD or folks who are gay/lesbian...this culture views these things in a negative way...we internalize this and feel poorly as a result.....as a mentor said, our culture fails gravely at being humane

Experience

I've been working in the field of addictions for nearly 30 years, within the inpatient and outpatient setting, as well as working in the Department of Corrections, the Director of Counseling for a large chemical dependency hospital, to where I'm currently employed doing in-home mental health and chemical dependency engagement with (mostly) seniors. I also have a contract gig running the entire CD program for a long-term transitional program to support people to overcome homelessness. As I've been doing this work for many years I am currently teaching a college class: intro to chemical dependency. It's been neat to see my students 'get it' and understand that they can have a huge impact on people and how they navigate their recovery. I've been sober for over 29 years and have a sense of what is required to maintain long-term sobriety and abstinence, and engage lasting change. **I am a huge fan of various anti-craving medications. In some recovery circles this is taboo, however, it's been my experience that there is no reward for suffering. **I also understand that as recovery looks different for everybody, perhaps someone's program could be riding a bike, spending time with family, doing yoga, swimming, writing in a journal, spending time with friends, therapy, playing with a pet, reading spiritual literature, etc....it seems to me that many paths have merit.

Organizations
National/state organizations relative to chemical dependency and addictive disorders.

Publications
http://www.askanaddictioncounselor.com

Education/Credentials
Degree/certification as a chemical dependency counselor, and state certification as an addiction professional.I'm working towards further graduate studies in clinical psychopharmacology.

Awards and Honors
Last year I was invited to do a five-hour presentation on various facets of addictive disorders as a very large behavioral health hospital. I was somewhat resistant as I was a bit nervous to speak in front of 2000 people. I had no idea my approach would be so welcome. I sense that it's hard to remember how much we know.

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