Vivid dreams involving drinking and drug use are common among individuals in recovery. A study from the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Recovery Research Institute, published in the January issue of the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment after online release in October 2018, finds these relapse dreams are more common in those with more severe clinical histories of alcohol and other drug problems.
“Anecdotally, the occurrence of drinking and drug-using dreams is a known phenomenon among people in recovery, but very little is known from an epidemiological standpoint about the prevalence of such dreams, their relation to relapse risk, and how they decay with time in recovery,” says lead author John F. Kelly, PhD, founder and director of the Recovery Research Institute. “Given that these dreams can be deeply unnerving, more information could help treatment providers, those in recovery and their families know what to expect going forward.”
Recovery from every kind of substance use disorder — alcohol, heroin, cocaine, cannabis — has been characterized by dreams that follow a common pattern: in the dream the person has a drink or ingests their primary substance. They experience disbelief and are overcome with fear, guilt and remorse until they wake up, relieved to realize it was only a dream.
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The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has launched two evidenced-based online screening tools that providers can use to assess substance use disorder risk among adolescents 12-17 years old. These tools can be self-administered or completed by clinicians in less than two minutes. They are being offered through the NIDAMED Web Portal.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends universal screening in pediatric primary settings, and these tools help providers quickly and easily introduce brief, evidence-based screenings into their clinical practices. Providers can select the tool that best fits their practice.
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An estimated 2.15 million people in the U.S. — 9% of the population — have a diagnosable substance use disorder (SUD). Epidemiological and clinical studies suggest that SUDs follow a chronic, relapsing course, with cycles of recovery, relapse, and multiple treatment episodes, over the course of several years.
“According to SAMHSA (2015), alcohol and drug abuse and related problems contribute substantially to the burden of disease in the U.S., costing an estimated $400 billion annually,” said Dr. Jennifer Manuel, PhD, an assistant professor at the NYU Silver School of Social Work, and an affiliated researcher with New York University’s Center for Drug Use and HIV Research (NYU CDUHR). “It is essential to reduce the cycle of treatment for SUDs — both for public health and financial reasons.”
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