Recognizing Common Triggers for Relapse

Addiction recovery is a process – a journey. It is not like having a broken bone where after a few weeks it heals and you’d never know it was broken. Recovery is something that must be continually worked on. You must always be aware of your surroundings, the company you keep, your stress level, your emotions, and much more. When recovery isn’t the top priority, you run the risk of relapsing. However, it is important to note that relapse is not failure and it does not mean that treatment doesn’t work; it means that you need to re-evaluate what you are doing and make some healthy changes.

One way of reducing risk of relapse is recognizing common triggers in order to avoid or manage them. Knowing what sets you off or makes you more susceptible to returning to drug or alcohol use can help you to be proactive and focused on your recovery. While everyone’s triggers may be slightly different, here are a few common ones to be aware of:

  • Stress: This is a big one. When your stress level rises and you’re feeling especially agitated or anxious, it can be tempting to have a drink or use drugs to take the edge off and relax. Embrace healthier strategies such as exercise, yoga, meditation, deep breathing, journaling, or listening to music to feel calmer and keep stress in check. Also, know when to say no and not take on additional responsibilities.
  • Over-confidence: After a few weeks or months – or even years – of sobriety, you may feel like you’re on top of the world and have this recovery thing mastered. But that can lead to putting yourself in tempting situations that test your recovery. Stay focused on keeping yourself if safer environments and knowing where to turn when you need support.
  • Isolation: Some people decide to avoid temptation by cutting themselves off from other people or places. While this may sound good in theory, it can be difficult in practice. Spending too much time on your own can lead to depression, boredom, or loneliness which can in turn increase the desire to return to substance use.
  • H.A.L.T.: This is a commonly used acronym in addiction recovery that stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired. These are all common triggers that can lead to relapse, but recognizing them can serve as a red flag and allow you to make positive changes to address these challenges. It is a good reminder to practice self-care.
  • Social Situations: Pay attention to the company you keep as well as your surroundings. Choose to spend time with friends who support your recovery, not those who may be a bad influence. Also, steer clear of places where you may be tempted to use drugs or drink alcohol. There are plenty of other options. But if you do find yourself in a questionable situation, know who you can call and where you can go to find a safe space.
  • Mental Health Issues: Mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, OCD, PTSD, or bipolar disorder can all affect addiction recovery. It is essential to learn strategies to manage your mental health so that it does not contribute to relapse. Dual diagnosis programs can help you address addition and mental health issues together to support recovery.

Addiction recovery can be incredibly rewarding, but it also comes with its share of challenges. Learning to recognize warning signs and triggers for relapse can help you to stay on track with your recovery and continue pursuing a healthier lifestyle. Whether you’re just starting your recovery journey or are looking for extra support, Crossroads can help.

[cta]Could you benefit from outpatient treatment or other support to reduce your risk of relapse? Contact Crossroads to see how we can help.[/cta]