Healthy Beginnings

A Time to Kill, a Time to Heal: Wrestling with Addiction

There is a season and a time to every purpose under the heaven…A time to kill, and a time to heal … Ecclesiastes 3:1, 3:3 (KJV)

And sometimes you cannot heal unless you are willing to kill. A man dealing with addiction issues had the following dream:

I am on vacation in Utah but the rules there were very strict: no booze, no cigarettes, and no potato chips! They search you everywhere and I got in trouble several times. I was always on the lookout and under suspicion. We were at a large celebration and there was a massive pig, partly cooked but still alive. It had to be slaughtered and I was given the knife to slit its throat. I couldn’t bring myself to do it and passed the knife to the guy behind me. He couldn’t do it either so a female figure grabbed the knife from him. She promptly cut off the pig’s ears and eyebrows and slit its throat. It was horrible. The next thing I remember I am escaping the country over a river with some friends including the man who had been in line behind me. It was a difficult escape. We were climbing the trusses that held up a bridge from above.

The pig is a dream symbol with both positive and negative connotations depending on the context of the dream and the dreamer’s life. Given the dreamer’s struggles with addiction,

the pig’s negative attributes are probably referred to. The pig lives close to the ground, perhaps too close in this case. It is gluttonous and dirty. Representing base instinctual nature, it follows its appetites wherever they lead. It is a symbol of the dreamer when driven by his addictions–impulsive and lacking restraint. He is wedded to certain bodily urges.

The pig is half-cooked, still alive, partially transformed, but not ready for consumption – not edible. It indicates that the heat of inner transformation is building within the dreamer’s life. New food will come from the sacrifice and transformation of base impulses and instinctual drives symbolized by the pig. These will be used for the creation of a higher perspective. Without sacrifice of the lesser for the greater we don’t grow in consciousness or character.

The pig must die. The addiction must be killed. But the dreamer is not up to the task. He and his shadow—the man behind him in line—are too attached to his addictions. It seems cruel to say “no more” to the habits that bring pleasure, no matter how transitory, compulsive, or harmful. He must bring himself to renounce his addictions.

The inner woman, strong and bold, is a symbol of the values and priorities that can bring the proper conviction and courage to the task. The ego and shadow have passed on the challenge, but the warrior feminine can provide the necessary perspective. She cuts off the pig’s ears and eyebrows before slitting its throat. To kill an addiction you must monitor what you look at and listen to. You must address and filter the thoughts, images, and voices that lead you astray. “Stop the deliberating and sentimentality; make the sacrifice!” her bold actions say.

The Mormon community: devout, with clear demands and high expectations. The psyche is itself demanding. It requires obedience. And it sees all. The ego would like to hide from it, but cannot. The ego thinks its requirements are excessive and unreasonable. (Of course, the ego finds most demands excessive or unreasonable when they are not its own). The soul makes demands we don’t always understand until after we have fulfilled them. We must act on the knowledge that life will be better without the addiction than with it. We must step out from under its hypnotizing effects—the habitual thoughts, responses, and worldview that characterize it.

The bridge over the river: the dreamer and his friends try to slip away unnoticed. They climb the trusses over the bridge, elevated above the ground, above the water, above the bridge itself. Trying to escape and circumvent the hard ground of reality and interaction with other people. The dreamer is trying to avoid feelings of guilt.

Here the dream comes to an end. It has given the dreamer a snapshot of the task before him and his current attitude towards it. The dream ends but the drama will continue.

For more info, contact Dr. Andy Drymalski, Reno and Carson City psychologist at phone number (775) 786-3818, or Enjoy his blog at

Editor’s Note:

  • Over 20 million Americans over the age of 12 have an addiction (excluding tobacco).
  • 100 people die every day from drug overdoses. This rate has tripled in the past 20 years.
  • Over 5 million emergency room visits in 2011 were drug related.
  • 2.6 million people with addictions have a dependence on both alcohol and illicit drugs.
  • 9.4 million people in 2011 reported driving under the influence of illicit drugs.
  • 6.8 million people with an addiction have a mental illness.
  • Rates of illicit drug use is highest among those aged 18 to 25.
  • Over 90% of those with an addiction began drinking, smoking or using illicit drugs before the age of 18.