Patients with substance abuse or dependence often have dreams about alcohol or drugs during early recovery. However, the literature on drug dreams in rehabilitating patients with drug-related disorders remains limited. No data are available on drug dreams in people with substance-related disorders and other major mental illness. As part of a large study on the use of lamotrigine in patients with bipolar disorder and cocaine dependence, the frequency and nature of drug dreams, triggers for dreams, and response to the dreams during study participation were assessed in 37 outpatients for as long as 36 weeks. Altogether, 74% of participants experienced at least one drug dream during the study. Furthermore, drug dreams rapidly decreased during study participation. The presence of drug dreams at baseline did not predict mood, cocaine craving, or drug use at exit. No clear risk factors for drug dreams were identified. However, drug dreams were related to survival in the study by a negative U-shaped curve relationship in which those participants with the highest and lowest frequency of drug dreams discontinued from the study the earliest. Content of the dreams frequently included drug use or refusing to use the drug. Dreams of drug use tended to occur during the first few weeks of study participation. Most dreams were associated with triggers for drug use. The findings suggest that drug dreams are common in patients with bipolar disorder and cocaine dependence and are similar in nature to those previously reported in people with pure substance abuse.
Department of Psychiatry, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, Dallas, TX.
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