Drug dreams are common in early recovery. They may come almost nightly at first and even several years into your recovery, they may start up again. I’ve been clean for a while now but years back, these dream episodes started happening again. They were vivid and nightmarish and I was tempted to suppress them with sleeping pills, alcohol or more weed. I’m glad I didn’t. It would have meant learning all over again how to quit marijuana. Instead, I let them play out and they directed me to areas of my life I needed to fix to avoid a relapse. So these dreams have a purpose. It’s to alert you about what’s going right or wrong with your plans on how to quit smoking weed permanently. When you apply their lessons, their work is done and they start to fade away.
1. Types of Using Dreams
Using dreams are varied. Here are the main ones:
- You are using or are in possession of weed or something more deadly such as heroin.
- You’re in the company of weed users and are torn between joining in and declining.
- You’re overdosing or being forcibly drugged.
- You’ve been busted for using.
2. What Causes These Drug Dreams?
These dreams could fit in with Freud’s theory that dreams are an expression of a forbidden but suppressed wish that exists in the subconscious. You’ve quit weed but your subconscious mind still craves it. Your mind fuses together all memories and cues from your weed taking days, and feeds these into your dreams, prompting your cravings. I also found that weed suspended my usual dreaming patterns, but once I became serious about how to stop smoking weed, my usual dreaming pattern resumed and was mixed up with my using memories making things very challenging but still doable with persistence. For more tips on how to quit marijuana, see our guide.
3. What do the Dreams Signify?
A study suggests that the more often you have these user dreams, the more likely you are to revert. In the study, 85 percent of addicts who’d been clean for six weeks or more admitted to having these dreams. Six months later, those with more of the dreams also had more cravings and were thus more likely to have relapsed.
My work with young people leads me to agree with researchers who say that frequency is not necessarily a relapse indicator. A study of alcoholics found that the more the user dreams, the more focused the recovery and the less the likelihood of relapse.
Yet other researchers believe that it’s not the frequency of the dreams that determines the likelihood of a relapse, but the feelings and responses they invoke. I suggest you make that central to any plans on how to quit smoking weed. So pay particular attention firstly to how you respond to using in the dream. Then see how you respond to waking up to find that it was only a dream after all.
If you’re left feeling frustrated and dejected and your cravings are at a high once again, it could signal a relapse. But not necessarily so if you use the dream to change up what’s gone wrong in your ‘how to stop smoking weed’ plan.
However, if you wake up feeling ashamed, guilty and worried and then hugely relieved that it’s only a dream, your strategy on how to quit smoking weed is working but you’re being warned of the dangers that still exist to your sobriety.
It may be that the clues to preventing a relapse are in the content of the user dreams. So as soon as you wake up, jot down the details of the dream. They’re crucial for informing your ‘how to quit smoking marijuana’ plan. Ask yourself:
- What are the parallels between what’s in your dream and your awake time?
- What could have triggered the dream and does it need fixing?
- Are there any repetitive patterns?
Finding answers to these questions and acting on them means you’re making inroads in lessening the dreams. You are learning how to quit marijuana more effectively.
I’ve found from experience that my dreams symbolize other issues in my life. Dreams point to the dangers of relapse if they are not dealt with in a healthy way. Using excessively in your dream or being busted for using, could indicate something risky you’re doing in your waking life. If you have a dream that features say three characters, one of whom is using, another hesitating about using, and the third declining to do so, this could represent different facets of your character in your waking life. It could indicate your need to be resolute in all areas of your life.
If you dream you’re overdosing, it may mean you’re lacking in moderation and self-control and are given to overdoing everything. Being held down and forced to take weed may mean you’re a helpless victim and don’t want to take responsibility for anything including your strategy on how to stop smoking weed.
If you suddenly have a using dream after five or more years of not having one, as I did, it could indicate that something major has happened at home or work that needs sorting. If it’s not to affect your recovery, it’s a great opportunity for self-evaluation.