Earlier this week for about 8 seconds I thought I had done the unthinkable. For 8 seconds I genuinely thought I had fallen off the wagon! But I hadn’t. Let me explain….

It may be two and a half years since I had my last drink, but I’m still reminded of what it’s like to be drunk regularly. I don’t mean this literally, I’m talking about having dreams where I drink alcohol.

That might sound strange, but it seems the only dreams I ever remember now, are the ones where I get drunk. I use the word ‘dreams’ loosely because they are not dreams, they are nightmares. Or as I call them, drunkmares.

They are always very dark and often involve my friends and family witnessing me in a drunken state. I have no idea what sets them off. It doesn’t seem to matter if I have had a good or a bad day, as I’ve had these vivid nightmares after both. 

The worst thing about them is waking up, and for about 8 seconds I genuinely believe the worst. I think that I have fallen off the wagon. I can’t describe how soul destroying that 8 seconds is. I want the bed to swallow me up. A complete blanket of regret covers me from head to toe.

However, this is quickly followed by total relief and elation when I realise it was just another drunkmare. Within the first 9 seconds of waking up I’ve gone from one end of the emotional spectrum to the other!

When I first started having these nightmares, I hated them. I thought, ‘I dedicate my life now to not drinking and as soon as I shut my eyes this happens. Does it mean I’m close to relapsing? Is there an uncontrollable craving around the corner?’. The answer ,for me, was no.

Nowadays, I think differently. I would rather not have them at all, but if I can’t stop them, I might as well embrace them. In some ways they are like a blessing. That 8 seconds of regret and shame after every one of these dreams is a huge reminder to me.

It’s a reminder of exactly how I would feel if I really did fall off the wagon. It’s 8 seconds of being back to square one. That’s a place I never want to go back to. These things I hated at first are now another weapon in my armory against my addiction.

This isn’t the only positive I take from them. I now find that the relief that I feel when I realise it was just a dream, sets the tone for the rest of my day or even week. It sounds stupid, but I end up in a more positive mood than I would have been if I had not had a drunkmare.

If you are in the early stages of recovery and you’re getting these horrible dreams, you need to take the positives out of them.

From my experience, it doesn’t mean that you are close to relapsing. It just means that alcohol has been a big part of your life and it always will be, even if you are sober for the rest of it. And I hope you are.

Thank you for reading and remember to always try and take the positives out of every situation you can. It’s helped me a lot.


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photo credit: a l o b o s José via photopin (license)

7 thoughts on “Drunkmares

  1. I know that feeling well. Wait till you have a drinking dream about a drinking dream. Alcoholism is a cunning, baffling and powerful illness! But today we’re ok 👌


  2. Iv been seeing a therapist since before Christmas but I’m not really getting there. I’m meant to be trying to not drink three days a week. We had friends round for a meal last night and i cant say how many bottles if wine we drank. Next week we are all going out for a meal. And need to be sober for the next day for my granddaughter show.
    The reason i went to see a therapist is for my health as my years if drinking has given me heart failure which is only maintainable i wish this had frightened me in to stop drinking but i seem to be drinking more. With no hangover or sickness since iv been on medication.


    1. Only you can make that decision to cut down or stop your drinking Karen. If it’s troubling you, clearly you have an issue about your drinking consumption. Consider ‘unlearning’ the necessity to have an alcoholic drink at that meal. I wish you well and hope you have a marvellous time at your granddaughters shoe the next day. J


    2. Hi Karen, thank you so much for reading. Im really sorry to hear of your ill health. I too went to a therapist in my early 20’s for help with my drinking.

      Addiction to alcohol is an amazingly powerful thing. Going by my own experiences after reading your comment, I think you could be very close to the point where you are completely dependant on alcohol. If I could give myself advice when I was at that point of my drinking it would be to stop completely rather than trying to not drink 3 days a week. (Unless you suffer withdrawals when you do stop drinking then you must reduce slowly)
      Stopping completely probably seems like a mountain to climb right now, but your life and health will be so much better for it.
      It is possible to have a great life without alcohol.

      I hope this has helped and I wish you best.


  3. Toby your story is heart-breaking and heart warming and an absolute inspiration to every one facing addiction. We are so proud of you in so many ways. Di Neil Sy and Gang x


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