Dreaming About Cigarettes

It’s hard to leave my smoking habit in the past when my subconscious won’t let it go.

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Photo by TETrebbien on Unsplash

I quit smoking, cold turkey, four weeks ago. After a year of failed attempts to drop the habit, I’m quite proud to be rounding out my first nicotine-free month.

At this point, I’m still experiencing plenty of cravings, but they are getting easier to resist. I’m really starting to believe that I’m ready to move past this habit for good.

Unfortunately, my subconscious mind is lagging behind.

Last night I had a dream about chain-smoking cigarettes. I smoked one after another, despite knowing in my dream that I was trying to quit.

When I woke up this morning, I felt almost as bad as if I had actually smoked.

In fact, it took me about five confusion-filled minutes before I was even sure that I hadn’t smoked.

Even after I realized that it was all just a dream, it left me feeling crappy — a feeling that I haven’t been able to shake all day.

A Familiar Story

This experience of dreaming about relapse is all too familiar to me.

I quit drinking a few years ago and used to have dreams about breaking my sobriety all the time.

Those dreams became less frequent over time, but even two years later I was still getting them occasionally.

The last time it happened I wrote up a short post about the experience:

Fortunately, as far as I can remember, I haven’t had a similar drinking dream since then.

It’s a bit frustrating that as soon as my drinking dreams finally disappeared, I’ve got a new vice to dream about instead.

I’m trying to look at things optimistically instead though — the dreams about drinking became less common over time, so the dreams about smoking likely will as well.

Trying Not to Dwell

I’ve been reminding myself all day that smoking in a dream is not the same thing as smoking in real life.

I didn’t actually slip up, and I haven’t done anything to jeopardize my goal of staying quit.

When I wrote about my drinking dreams, I mentioned that it’s the perfect time to apply the serenity prayer and “accept the things I cannot change.”

That’s true here as well. We can’t control our dreams, so instead of worrying about it, I should continue to focus on not smoking in real life.

Last night’s dream will likely leave me in a weird mood for the rest of today. But, with any luck tonight will be better and tomorrow I’ll be back to feeling normal.

In the meantime, I certainly won’t let an imaginary slip-up turn into an excuse for a real one.

With each day that passes, nicotine’s hold on me is getting a little bit weaker. I know that I’ve made it through the very hardest part of quitting, and now I’m committed to sticking with it long term.

Written by

I’m a lawyer and teacher from North Carolina. I write about sobriety, mental health, running, and more.

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