One of the major problems of drug-dependent patients is their frequent relapse (i.e., return to drug use after long periods of abstinence).
This phenomenon is due to the fact that drug craving, i.e., the irrepressible desire to use drugs, is typically present in these patients. In recent years, it has been suggested that one source of access to the vicissitudes of drug craving may be “drug dreams,” i.e., those dreams in which drug-addicted patients typically use or attempt to use the drugs to which they are addicted.
Because drug dreams often seem to represent the fulfillment (or attempted fulfillment) of the desire for drugs in dream research and theory, they have also been explained according to Freud’s classical dream theory. At the same time, the study of drug dreams that relate to a strong motivational state, such as the desire for drugs, has been considered a useful research paradigm for examining the role of motivations in general in the dream process, a central theme in Solms’ recent neuropsychoanalytic dream theory (Solms, 1997, 2000).
With respect to the latter approach, Johnson (2001) has pointed out that the mesolimbic-mesocortical dopaminergic circuit that Solms identified as essential to the motivational trigger of dreaming is precisely the one responsible for drug craving and the onset of drug dreams upon repeated exposure to addictive substances.