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Sleeplessness and Nightmares in Sobriety

answered 07:46 AM EST, Thu November 03, 2011
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I quit drinking after a long run of literally years of getting kind of or very drunk every night. My doctor helped me quit with some downers that made it not too bad to stop. Now that I am not on the downers anymore I am going crazy with the dreams I am having every night. I think that I forgot what it was like to really dream since I was always knocked out with alcohol but I remember dreams as being kind of nice way back in the day. Now though my dreams are often nightmares or kind of disturbing and they are so crazy and they seem to last all night. It doesn’t really make sense but the dreams are so vivid and intense that the sleep is exhausting. I am really getting fed up with it. I don’t want to start drinking and I don’t use drugs but I am sick to death of these long nights. Is there anything I can do to have a more peaceful and restful sleep?

Melissa Borlie Says...

Melissa Borlie M. Borlie

Congratulations on quitting alcohol and depressants!

Your email leaves many therapeutic questions unanswered. Questions like yours are difficult to answer without the give-and-take of me being able to ask those questions. Disclaimer over.

Treatment centers will detox patients from alcohol with depressants, but they give small, limited quntities. I don't know if the levels you were taking could have caused addiction. I also don't know how long you have been off the drug. My first guess is that the sleeping problems could be symptoms of depressant withdrawal. Please discuss the matter with your doctor since he/she is aware of your past addiction and method of detox.

There is the possibility of a medical condition whose symptoms have been self-medicated for months or years. It could be a condition whose symptoms started while you were drinking, but you never noticed. Again, the first stop is your doctor's office to rule out any physical causes for the nightmares and sleeplessness.

Another, more distant, possibility is that sobriety has awakened an emotional issue or trauma from childhood that has never been resolved. We sometimes numb ourselves to the point we can sleep and then dreams and nightmares no longer bother us. If no physical causes are found, your doctor can make a referral to a psychiatrist for a proper assessment of how your mind and body work together. If the psychiatrist determines that you do need medication, he/she will prescribe medication and refer you to a competent therapist in your area.

Good luck to you in your sobriety and search for answers.

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Page last updated Nov 03, 2011

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