Can Remembering Your Dreams Replace Hallucinogen Use?

It has to be a thought thunk by every stick-in-the-mud who refuses to touch hallucinogens: I’m no fun.

Here I am holding a regular job. Here I am fulfilling my responsibilities to my family and society.

There they are. They’re tripping out. They sure look like they’re having a good time getting wasted.

Damn them!

That’s what’s really behind the condemnation people who struggle with addiction pick up on.

It’s envy—at least in part. Feelings of responsibility, and all of the things it entails, can suck in the short term.

Never mind hallucinogens! It can happen even with something milder like smoking.

It’s natural to crave companionship. Even in places with blisteringly cold weather. Even where wind cuts through the gaps in jackets and undergarments. The places where you see smokers huddling together to furtively puff on cigarettes, dim embers glowing in darkness, barely able to hear each other over the sound of the wind.

Yes, it’s true. Many non-smokers have passing thoughts that the smokers have it better.

Even if they realize that with a habit like that, the non-smokers have ceded an important part of their lives to be out of their control.

Even if it’s a whole other kind of scary to realize how strong an addiction must be to compel someone to stand outside in that kind of weather.

Yes, even when they think about how much money a smoker spends on their smoking these kinds of thoughts occur. The thoughts are natural. It’s these kinds of thoughts that start people smoking in the first place. It looks like fun. If they’re of a certain generation, they might have even grown up thinking smoking was cool, that it made you cool.

Smoking, drugs: both look like they’re liberating.

Even if the truth is that one can get addicted to them. Addictions are enslaving.

Everyone realizes that sooner or later.

Unfortunately, by then, they usually realize that they’ve got a real problem on their hands.

Like drugs, dreams are liberating – all without enslaving side effects

Keeping a dream journal provides a kind of mental defense against those feelings. Dream awareness provides comparable experiences. Dreaming is free. It’s legal. There are no sketchy dealers. There are no flashbacks or other side effects. You won’t be putting yourself in physical danger by doing dumb things like walking along the edge of a roof, pretending you’re a bird.

It’s natural, by God!

You’re not going to ruin your life as you do with drug use. You’re actually going to benefit yourself.

All you’re going to do is what you need to do for a good part of every day: sleep. 

What’s more, dream journaling will help you make sense of your life. That will enable you to approach your life with more effectiveness than you’ve ever mustered before.

Now, if you’re using hallucinogens and you want to stop, can dream journaling help?

An acid trip when you’re waking will be more likely to be vivid because you’re awake. However, scientific investigation has shown an acid trip is like a dream. They classified dreams as having high lucidity and low lucidity. Drug use sessions produced similar experiences.

Shooting hoops on a basketball court can help you have a high lucidity dream.

Researchers from the United States and Argentina compared descriptions of over 15,000 dreams with reports of over 20,000 hallucinogenic drug trips. They found a high level of correlation in their descriptions.

The hallucinogen interferes with the boundary between the conscious and subconscious mind. This barrier comes down naturally during sleep. The dream journaler, because of their skill and intention, will be as aware of their weirdness as the drug user both during the dream (if they have a lucid dream) and afterward.

Whether or not dream journaling can replace hallucinogenic drug use for an individual depends on why the person is using drugs to begin with.

If you’re bored or looking for “enhanced experiences,” keeping a dream journal can help. Dreams will often help you see the truth of the situations in the symbolic language they communicate in.

If you’ve ever remembered a strange dream, you can confirm that. The hallucinations with some drugs come from the subconscious anyway. All you’re doing when you’re dream journaling is finding a way to remember the words and images you’re already having in your subconscious. All it takes is the willingness to master a new skill.

If you’re looking for a feeling of having enhanced life experiences the way some drug users are, keeping a dream journal can help with that too. Very often, dreams allow a way for someone to see and realize things about their daily life they didn’t know before.

Dream journaling doesn’t come with these physical side effects. There’s no chance of suffering any kind of altered perception at an inopportune time.

While keeping a dream journal beats drug use, it’s not the answer for every possible reason someone might use drugs.

It’s not guaranteed to bond you with other drug users.

If you’re feeling depressed, it’s not going to be a reprieve the way drugs are for some people.

A dream journal hobby probably won’t help you lose weight.

And also, at least not directly, it won’t stop you from feeling stressed in the short term.

However, more than one dream journaler has reported keeping a dream journal has helped them reach a greater understanding of their lives, which has helped them improve conditions themselves. Improved conditions should help alleviate stress or help one respond to stress in a better manner.

You can also increase the vividness of your dreams by taking Vitamin B6.

Sleep can be an adventure if you make it that way.


Here’s how to analyze dreams for friends and family.

Make a dream journaling hobby a habit.

What to do when you’ve had a stupid dream.



James Cobb, RN, MSN, is an emergency department nurse and the founder of the Dream Recovery System. His goal is to provide his readers with simple, actionable ways to improve their health and maximize their quality of life. 


The Dream Recovery System uses some affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain my own. 

There's gold (figurative) in your dreams.
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