The first time it happened scared the crap out of me. I woke up from a dream, a drinking dream in which I was far more out of control than any time I could recall. I experienced emotional states of guilt and sadness, a compulsion to apologize to anybody who would listen, just as if the episode had really happened. Nobody had warned me.
Such dreams are just one symptom of something called Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome. PAWS is something that can happen out to 2 years past initial sobriety. Struggles with thought processes, depression, addiction cravings that seem to appear out of thin air with no identifiable triggers – these are all part of the reality of PAWS.
Are you experiencing this process? Do you love or supervise somebody who does experience PAWS? The good news is that it does get better. Brain synapses do heal and start firing the way creation intended, at least mostly, with abstinence. The key is not relapsing and undoing the good your brain has accomplished. Although some people never seem to experience PAWS, many people will need to struggle through it. You don’t need to do it alone. Other people have been there before you. Don’t give up.