Using dreams – I still have them occasionally

(For the life of me, I can’t understand why Windows Live Writer always changes hyphens in the title to longer versions – I don’t know what they’re called – and then automatically removes the spaces around them. So titles like today’s one need to be fixed up manually afterwards.)

Months ago when I took part in an outpatient program, I heard that “using dreams” are a type of craving. Now I’m not so sure that’s true.

My using dreams used to be traumatizing for me. I’d dream not that I was using, but that I had used. And it would seem totally real. So my mind would place me in a scenario where I was back in active addiction, and had been for some (unknown) time. This was at a time when I did frequent drug tests, and was seeing my son once a week. So in the dream, believing that I was back in active addiction, I’d feel the emotional effects of active addiction – the consequences. Rather than feeling high, I’d be confused, as if I’d been using for days without sleep and “needed” more to feel normal again. There’d also be the guilt and shame… “What have I done? How did I get back here?” And worst of all, “How can I continue to use and still see my son? When last did I use? (I can’t remember.) And how long do I need to abstain to get through the next test and still test negative?”

I’d wake up in a cold sweat, feeling instant relief at the realization that none of it was real, but also feel guilty. The guilt was because in the dream I’d believed that I was using again, and my first thought was not to stop, but how to continue using and get away with it.

This made me afraid, terrified really, of the possibility of relapse, because it seemed obvious that on some level I did still want to use; on a subconscious level beyond my control. Also, it seemed that if ever I did use again, recovery would not be a probable outcome.

Thus I used the lessons of those nightmares to ensure that no matter how much I craved when conscious, I never gave in to those cravings. And it paid off.

So last night I had one of those dreams… sort of. I dreamed that I had used, but rather than feeling traumatized, I felt surprised. I even had a lolly in my hand. (For readers outside of South Africa, we call the glass meth pipe a lolly.) But rather than feeling guilty or confused, I looked at it and said to myself, “But I don’t have one of these. I don’t do this anymore.” Then I woke up with no feelings of guilt or shame. It was just a stupid dream.

That’s what I call progress, and I think I can finally put all of that shit behind me. At fucking last!

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About Jerome

I am a senior C# developer in Johannesburg, South Africa. I am also a recovering addict, who spent nearly eight years using methamphetamine. I write on my recovery blog about my lessons learned and sometimes give advice to others who have made similar mistakes, often from my viewpoint as an atheist, and I also write some C# programming articles on my programming blog.
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