If any alcoholic or addict ever tells you that they “never” think about drinking once they are clean and sober, nine out of ten times they are full of it. We all still think about it however comma….we don’t think about it nearly as often and the thoughts usually disappear just as quickly as they came. As long as we don’t put those thoughts into action, we’re just fine. It’s when you start to obsess about the thoughts that you can consider yourself in trouble unless you acknowledge the warning sign and do something about it.
Once our obsession for the alcohol is gone, there isn’t anything that we can’t do. We don’t need to avoid places that have alcohol (as long as we have a legit reason to be there) We have a new found freedom that we’ve never experienced before as long as we continue to follow our recovery program every single day. It does not matter how much sober time one has under his / her belt, no one is exempt from relapse. Too many times I’ve heard from those who had double digits under their belt and still relapsed. Most of the time if you asked them why, they’ll tell you they stopped working their program.
Now there’s a difference between having a spontaneous “thought” about alcohol and having what’s known as a “drunk dream.” Drunk dreams are just that. Some can be just dream like and some can be so extremely vivid they take on physical twists such as waking up and actually having the taste of the alcohol in your mouth. In early sobriety, getting drunk dreams is pretty common. Most of the time they are part of going through the withdrawal phase of recovery. However getting drunk dreams later on in recovery should be taken as a warning that you’re in trouble and there’s some aspect of your recovery you’re not applying or you need to work harder on. I myself have only had one drunk dream about six months into my sobriety. It scared the hell out of me!! I woke up out of a dead sleep and not only did I have the taste of Bourbon in my mouth, I had the burn in my throat and the smell in my nose. Earlier that day my sponsor warned me that I was “slacking” and I said to him, “I got this!” I had the drunk dream that very night. Needless to say I have never used those words with regard to my recovery again.
Learn to recognize the warning signs and how to differentiate the difference between a mere thought and a danger sign. If you just have a mere thought, don’t panic. As I said, it happens to us all. No matter what, you should always call your sponsor or tell another alcoholic about these thoughts. Don’t hold them in your head and let them fester. That’s a very unwise thing to do. Your recovery counts on using the tools you’re given. Remember it really is a life or death situation. Never allow yourself to think otherwise. The very second you start to minimize the severity of the situation, consider yourself doomed. I know that may sound like an exaggeration, but I assure you that it’s not.
AJ Menendez, Master Male Illusionist