Dreams and Addiction
Are you struggling with addiction to alcohol or drugs? Do you know or are you involved in some way with someone who is? Get this book: The War of the Gods of Addiction by David Schoen (SpringJournal Books, 2009). In it, the author makes the case that true addiction is evil – real evil bent on the utter destruction of the person addicted, body and soul. He traces the development of Alcoholics Anonymous Twelve Steps and how the Higher Power invoked there is one of two things that just might save the addicted person from annihilation. The other is accountability to peers who are suffering the same way – the AA meeting. Toward the end of the book, Mr. Schoen describes the way dreams evolve in someone beginning then staying with recovery – that is, complete abstinence according to the AA program.
When someone is early in recovery she may have a “using dream.” A “using dream” is one in which the dreamer is once again using or is offered the opportunity to use her drug of choice. How the dreamer reacts in the dream and upon awakening can be a clue to how recovery is going. If the dreamer enjoys using the drug or drink in her dream and wakes up feeling “well, at least I still get to enjoy it in my sleep!” recovery is still fragile and may be in danger. The deeper levels of psyche are not all lined up with the desire of ego to quit. The ego of the dreamer is still vulnerable to being overwhelmed by the addiction, which is an autonomous dynamic thing in the psyche. Later, if the dreamer does her work, attends AA meetings, goes for alcohol and drug intensive treatment, actively works on each of AA’ s 12 Steps, her dreams may begin to evolve. She may dream of being offered her drug of choice or somehow finds it but in the dream, realizes she cannot use again; she must refuse. Then upon awakening she feels shaken, remorseful, frightened – that indicates more parts of her are lined up to continue abstinence. Yet this is a critical time: if the dreamer takes the dream too literally, she may come to the conclusion she is doomed to relapse and so throws it all over! Such dreams seem to come to be a reminder and warning to the dreamer that even as she strengthens her ego to withstand the onslaught of the addiction in times of stress or just not being vigilant, the addiction is still there in her psyche (as well as her body – all systems are addicted!). Read this book to understand more of this way of thinking about addiction.