What To Expect When You Give Up Alcohol: Drinking Dreams

There were many things about my drinking behavior that I thought was unique to me. I did not know that one of the common alcohol detox symptoms is dreaming about drinking alcohol!

Then when I eventually quit drinking poison for fun I also believed that my experiences of quitting were also unique.

However, when I started to write about these things I was shocked to find so many people getting in touch to say that they also experienced the same things.

Many have said ‘it is like you reached inside my head and told my own story’.

Alcohol twists reality so profoundly that we assume that it can only be us going through this insanity.

Our propensity to follow social proof makes us believe that other people are somehow better at coping with this addiction than us.

During the decade that I was aware that my drinking was dangerously out of control but still didn’t want to give it up.


Denial is the first problem

I did some ridiculously absurd things to try and prove that I wasn’t an alcoholic.

As it turns out, I am not alone. I have discovered there are some entirely predictable elements of alcohol addiction.

Dealing with thousands of people struggling with their drinking has taught me how to predict what they will experience next.

This has been powerfully helpful because when I see someone struggling I can understand what is going through his or her mind.

I have heard every excuse going and I can spot drinkers bullshit from a mile away.

I won’t lie to you, there are parts of my stop drinking program that are difficult and challenging.

Certainly, during the first two weeks, you have both chemical and psychological addiction to deal with. That can be tough if your mindset is 100% right.

However, there are also elements that are more confusing than difficult.

alcohol and sleep
Alcohol and sleep… the bad news

Dreaming about drinking alcohol is certainly one of them.

Firstly, you need to be aware that you are not alone and it is common.

Secondly, don’t worry it’s not a bad thing – quite the contrary.

Many of my members wake up in a blind panic a week or so after stopping drinking.

They have had a dream that they were drinking and it was so vivid and real that they are not even sure it was just a dream.

This also happened to me.

What To Expect When You Give Up Alcohol: Expect changes to your sleep

I am not sure why the dreams are so vivid and lucid but I woke up many times after quitting drinking and actually searched through the garbage to make sure that I really didn’t drink the night before.

I also often woke up with a terrible hangover despite not having had a drop of alcohol.

This always struck me as being super unfair – to get the punishment without committing the crime.

What I can say to any drinker who is newly sober and is dealing with these issues is.

It is exactly what happened to me, and if you continue to follow the same root that I did.

You will end up happily sober for the rest of your life.

Angry Woman

Why Does It Happen?

Dreaming is important for your physical and mental health. Your subconscious is an amazing machine and it never sleeps.

After you have been visited by the Sandman and are in a deep, colorful dream.

Your subconscious is problem-solving and correctly filing the vast amount of data you absorbed during the day.

By the time you develop a problem with alcohol, it has been a significant part of your life for decades.

Because you are programmed at a genetic level to stay alive as long as possible, your system has miraculous adapted as best it can to having poison in your blood 24/7.

Stockholm Syndrome

Alcohol has become a constant part of your life. Essentially, you have fallen in love with a serial killer.

When you remove it, there are parts of you that don’t understand what’s happening.

Suddenly everything feels different, your brain is no longer operating with a sedative on board, and everything seems sharper and clearer.

Change anything this significant in your life and your body is initially going to object and take a little time to adjust to the new reality. Your subconscious is trying to make sense of what has happened. You experience this through your dreams.

Sober Living
Sober Living

Big, Positive Changes Are Good In The Long Run

Example: If you are used to driving on the left-hand side of the road and you travel to a country that drives on the right. Initially, you feel very uncomfortable and panicked.

Everything feels disorientating and in the wrong place. But after a few days, you adapt and it becomes a subconscious routine.

This is similar to what is happening with the removal of alcohol but on a much more significant scale.

How long will it last?

How long is a piece of string? Some people never experience anything like this and others will be sleeping and dreaming about drinking alcohol for months.

Personally, I experienced drinking dreams quite regularly for about a month.

Then slowly they reduced in frequency until I had the last one I remember about seven months out from my last drink.

The phantom hangovers lasted about the same length of time but with much less frequency than the dreaming about drinking alcohol that would wake me up in a panic that I had gone back to the booze.

Don’t be worried about them and don’t assume it is a sign that you are going to return to drinking.

It is purely a part of the detoxification process where your body has to get used to living without constant poison in your bloodstream.

This is a very good thing.

Alcohol Detox Symptoms: Crazy Dreams About Drinking Explained
Alcohol Detox Symptoms: Crazy Dreams About Drinking Explained

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  1. January 2006 I had my last drink. Three of my kids got into some trouble. I didn’t know how strong I was until I got on my hands and knees and talk to God. I knew my kids needed me. I needed to be sober. God definitely pulled through for me and got me sober. If it’s what you really want and time is up you can do it. And it was what I really wanted and I did it for me and for my children. Then I started working on my husband . I only wish I had started sooner I lost my husband of 30 years on August 15, 2018 the day after my birthday. He was only 57 years old the love of my life. He lost his life to cirrhosis of the liver. I lost my best friend that day. So if it’s what you really want to do you can do it please don’t wait till it kills you. There are too many people on this earth to love you and want you around for a very long time. I am one of those people . You do have self-worth and you are loved by many whether you think so or not and God loves you more than anyone please get sober for yourself. And then for your family they love you and they want you healthy. God bless you all. Sincerely Angelheart

  2. Hi,

    It’s been 2 yrs. 2wks and 2 days since my last drink. I still have dreams of drinking. They feel so real. Just recently it felt like I had a hangover. It’s so weird. At the end of my dreams I always tell myself (while still dreaming) You just threw 2 yrs down the drain of alcohol free. Then I wake up! This past week I think I’ve had 3 dreams about drinking. It’s crazy. They feel or seem so real.

    But the dreams remind me how I would feel or be like the next day.
    Not wanting to work, bad moods, anxiety

    I hope I never go back.
    Staying💪 And positive


  3. I’m now 31 days clean from alcohol. This article perfectly describes my experience with the dreams. They’ve been incredibly vivid and I’m having multiple dreams per night. Last night I was in Philadelphia, Atlantic City, and then in Tokyo. I’m seeing the most random people in my dreams and having full conversations with them. I met an old friend in one dream and he offered to buy me a drink. I responded, “I don’t drink anymore.”!!! Maybe that’s my subconscious that just kicked in as I’ve been saying that to a lot of people, but that was incredible that I stayed aligned with this goal, even in my dreams. After the first two weeks, the dreams started for me. They felt super vivid and at times, even “nightmare-ish”. That stopped, but they are super lucid still. I love it as I haven’t dreamt like this in such a long time. In real life, I feel like I’ve reached a heightened level of consciousness that will continue to rise as I stay sober. I feel amazing!

  4. I am alcohol free for 5 years. I still have drinking dreams. I hate them. But, there are times in my dream that I can say….”this is just a dream, wake up”….. and I’ll wake up. The dreams still stay with me for a couple of days though. I’ve always been a vivid dreamer but they have definitely become more so since I’ve been sober.

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