man sleeping

Using Dreams Happen

In mental health by Tree House Recovery

Using dreams are one of the more strange phenomena which come along with addiction recovery. However, when explained, they make sense. Someone who is recovering from drug and alcohol addiction and is maintaining their sobriety will have a dream about using the drug. Since the brain is, quite literally, addicted, it makes sense that using drugs and alcohol- exactly what the brain is addicted to doing- would come up in dreams. For the person who is recovering and who has the using dream, however, the dream can be overwhelming and not make much sense at all. Everyday, he is making a choice to stay sober. Increasingly, he is happy with his sober life, enjoying sober activities, and feeling further away from that unrelenting desire to drink or use. Then suddenly he has a dream where the choice to use seems broken, the sensations of using can be very real, and all of the drowning feelings of guilt and shame weigh heavily upon them in the morning, as if they had actually relapsed. Nightmares can be disturbing for anyone. Using dreams are a nightmare of a different caliber for men in recovery.

Men can feel unsettled and disturbed by a using dream for days. The longer men stay sober, typically the more severe the using dream becomes- the using in the dream gets worse and the consequences they suffer in the dream as a result of using worsen as well. Interestingly, recent research has found that using dreams are more severe among men who had a more severe addiction. According to an article on, a study conducted by the Recovery Research Institute at the Massachusetts General Hospital found that “relapse dreams are more common in those with more severe clinical histories of alcohol and other drug problems.” The study published in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment surveyed over 2,000 people who had suffered from a “significant alcohol or drug use problem”. One-third of those people, according to the article, reported experiencing relapse dreams.

The most important thing to remember when waking up from a relapse or using dream is that it didn’t happen- using didn’t actually take place- and it won’t happen as long as you continue to choose sobriety every single day.


Tree House Recovery of Portland, Oregon is a men’s addiction treatment center that teaches our clients how to roll with life’s punches and use the tools they’ve learned throughout the treatment process to stay on top of anything life throws at them. Call (503) 850-2474 to see how we can help you today.