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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Ready to go on your own sober journey?
Ready to learn how to stop drinking?