A comparison of the dreams of male and Female Abstinent Alcoholics compared to Non Alcoholic Controls: Are the differences significant?

Jennifer Parker, Chris Alford


Most of the research looking at addiction and the relationship with dreams has focused on newly abstinent alcoholics, or given no evidence of motivation to remain abstinent. This study compared the dreams of abstinent alcoholics in Stage II recovery from alcoholism with non-alcoholic controls. Nine female abstinent alcoholics 9 abstinent men, 11 non-alcoholic women and 9 non-alcoholic men kept dream diaries for 2 weeks. Waking personality, mood, and daily waking emotional experience were taken to ensure comparable waking personality and mood. A structured dream dairy was used to measure sleep behaviour, cognitions and self-appraisal, overall dream experience, and dream emotionality during a two week period. Results showed that male and female abstinent alcoholic’s dreams were more unpleasant, contained less self-esteem, and more unpleasant emotions than non-alcoholics. Within-group differences between waking and dreaming emotion were identified with all groups reporting significant increases in fear and anger during dreams. Based upon the emotional experience of dreams, we concluded that despite being more than one year away from active alcoholism, abstinent alcoholics dream reflected disturbed dreaming. The implications of these finding are discussed.


Alcoholism; emotions; self-esteem; methodology

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.11588/ijodr.2009.2.400

URN (PDF): http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:bsz:16-ijodr-4001