My using dreams have evolved and it amuses me a little

In the first couple of years clean, I loathed those dreams. I was afraid of writing about them, as if admitting that I had the dreams was some kind of dark revelation that deep down I really still wanted to use meth. But that has changed, along with the nature of the dreams themselves.

This is the form they used to take:

  1. I find myself somewhere with a meth pipe and lots of meth, believing I have already used.
  2. I’m looking for a place to use, but somehow it just works out that I can’t. It’s the whole purpose of the dream, but the dream doesn’t allow it to happen.

There were two main drives in those dreams:

  • Dealing with the feelings of guilt because I believed that I had already used, both at the start and the end of the dream, where on waking I’d worry that I might relapse.
  • Trying to find a chance to use but the frustration of not being able to.

Those dreams are now rare. I had one last night, but it was also the only one so far this year, and it follows a new pattern:

  1. I find myself somewhere with a meth pipe and lots of meth, believing I have already used. (So far it’s the same.)
  2. I use. I take hit after hit, but there is no high, no rush, no euphoria. There is nothing.
  3. I become lucid, realizing it is only a dream. Then I either wake up or drift off and dream about something else.

The feelings of guilt are still there at the start of the dream, but I am no longer worried about using at the end. I know I won’t and don’t want to. It’s almost as if my mind allows me to use in the dream because it’s OK to deal with that now, because I know I don’t want to use for real. It’s just a random thing I used to do in the past, a dream activity like any other, just noise that doesn’t mean anything. But what my mind won’t allow is for me to feel high. I find that part amusing. Surely my brain “knows” how to feel high? Surely those drug memories are there? But for some reason, my subconscious mind refuses to let me feel it. It’s one step further than dreaming I want to use but can’t though.

Actually the lucidity thing is a problem I have in general when dreaming. Sometimes I’ll have an amazing dream, where my brain does a brilliant job of worldbuilding and I become lucid and think to myself I need to remember this as it would make a great book or short story. But I don’t remember it because my lucidity doesn’t last for long and I don’t wake all the way up. The next day, all I can remember is that there was a dream I wanted to remember, but the details are lost.

I don’t believe dreams have any meaning. They’re just noise, a collection of random experiences our minds put us through while we rest. Using dreams for someone who used to use drugs are normal and nothing to worry about. That’s my point for this post… If you’re a former addict and you dream about using drugs, don’t worry about it or impose any meaning on it. Dreams are just dreams.

Mind you, I will add this caveat: The dreams themselves mean nothing, but how you feel about using is important. It has to be. If you really want to use, you have a problem that needs to be dealt with. I’ve been very fortunate in the last (almost) seven years, because I have never once wanted to use. Before this, I used to deal with my desire to use meth by using meth. After the first two weeks clean, I have not craved in these years, not even once. So if you do want to use, I can’t advise you on what to do, because nothing I tried back then worked for me. I guess I’m lucky that way. But if you do feel like you want to use, you need to get help from a professional.

A using dream that turned lucid for the first time

One thing that used to bother the hell out of me in recovery was the dreaded using dreams… Although I never dreamed I was using meth, I’d dream that I had already used, and they’d always follow a certain pattern. Something like the following:

  1. I find myself in some random place, and am aware that I have been using meth again for some time. (It’s unclear how long. It could be months, weeks… even days. I don’t know.)
  2. I’m confused. When did this happen? Wasn’t I clean for some time? I can’t remember.
  3. I have loads of drugs on me and I’m going to get caught. What to do?
  4. I wake up feeling guilty and ashamed, asking myself why my recovery wasn’t top priority in the dream. What does this mean? Do I subconsciously want to use, deep down? Am I doomed to fail and repeat my mistakes forever? And the most serious question of all: When I thought I had already used, didn’t I want to continue using?

Last night’s dream was refreshingly different. It went like this:

  1. I find myself in some random place, and am aware that I have been using meth again for some time. (It’s unclear how long. It could be months, weeks… even days. I don’t know.)
  2. I’m confused… Hang on, I don’t remember using. I’m three years clean. This isn’t real.
  3. This is a dream! A lucid dream even.
  4. Fuck this! I can fly… And so on.
  5. And off I went to do random lucid dream shit for a short while. I can’t hang on to lucidity in dreams and I have them rarely. So I drifted back into a normal sleep, forgetting all about meth.

This may not seem like a big deal, but to me it is huge. There was no interest to continue using, no feeling of guilt that maybe I want to use, because I do not. There was only the realization that I was dreaming, and the excitement of being able to control the lucid dream, even if only for a short while.

I have a feeling that my nights of using dreams are over. But I do wish I could have more lucid dreams, because lucid dreams are cool.

Note: I don’t know why I’m adding this, but the “I can fly” is an embellishment… I lose the lucidity in dreams almost immediately, although I wish it were otherwise. I’ve never actually flown in a lucid dream, and in this case, I drifted off almost right after the relief of realizing that it wasn’t real. Maybe lucid dreaming is something I should work on?

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!