Sober living

Drug & Alcohol Relapse Triggers

Her experience in behavioral health training, program development, and organizational leadership lead her to pursue a certification as a Project Management Professional in 2018. Alcohol use may appear to provide momentary relief for mental illness symptoms, but in reality, alcohol abuse conflicts with treatment for mental illness and will make symptoms more dangerous. By treating both disorders concurrently, symptoms will improve, and relapse can be avoided. Internal triggers are a more significant challenge in managing than external triggers. They include thoughts, feelings, and emotions previously linked with alcohol abuse.

types of relapse triggers

Staying connected to aftercare resources such as addiction support groups will help you avoid this common relapse trigger. While it may feel like a step backward, beginning a new treatment plan or modifying one that is already in place is not something to be ashamed of. During a mental relapse, your thoughts are drifting toward using again, even if part of you doesn’t want to go back to that part of your life.

Old Places And Hangouts Can Trigger Relapse

She is currently working towards her master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling at Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach, Florida. She is a Certified Addiction Professional , Certified Behavioral Health Case Manager , and International Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor by the Florida Certification Board. Theresa is passionate about recovery having gone through addiction herself.

  • They stop doing some of the things that helped them get and remain sober.
  • The prefessionals at Kemah Palms Recovery® – Alcohol and Addition Treatment Center are available 24/7 to help you or your loved one.
  • When patients in recovery submit to triggers, their brains produce rationalization to consume alcohol despite comprehending that remaining sober is their goal.
  • The significant difference between a slip and a full relapse is agency.

As anxiety and depression are huge factors in addiction, a little exercise can go a very long way in relapse prevention. The first and most important step you can take is to ask for help. Reflect on your personal goals and aspirations you set during recovery, and if you wrote in a recovery journal—go back and reflect on it. Make maintaining sobriety and self care your absolute top priority and allow everything else to take a backseat until your symptoms subside.

Find someone you trust and respect to kindly, but firmly, persuade you to stop what you’re doing if you do start to relapse. If you don’t prepare for these situations ahead of time, you are vulnerable to relapse. Try brainstorming ideas or work with your counselor or therapist to come up with a plan. Understanding what might trigger you to relapse as well as having a plan in the place for these triggers are the first steps toward prevention. Here are five triggers you need to consider and talk to your therapist or counselor about. Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals.

Old Friends

When people in recovery succumb to triggers, their brains create reasons to use substances despite knowing that they must remain abstinent. This ongoing fight increases their vulnerability to cravings, which may result in a potential relapse. A study from Marquette University pointed out that stress rendered people in recovery more vulnerable to other relapse triggers. Researchers followed the cocaine use patterns of stressed and unstressed rats and used a low dose of cocaine as a trigger. The stressed rats’ responses to the trigger mirrored those of people during relapse. Patients in rehab may consider skipping treatment sessions or support group meetings to spend time with their friends and family. A break in the routine may leave periods of isolation where patients may be inclined to use substances.

  • However, the focus needs to remain on the person’s recovery above all else.
  • This would usually only result in more pain, suffering, and guilt and loss of trust by those who care about you the most.
  • Clients need to be reminded that lack of self-care is what got them here and that continued lack of self-care will lead back to relapse.
  • Past relapses are taken as proof that the individual does not have what it takes to recover .

Internal triggers act in reverse, associating these signals to the substances that elicit them. Often, an addict in recovery who relapses will use the same amount of alcohol or drugs as they did before becoming sober. Since the body is not used to the substance anymore or has lowered tolerance, this can have dire consequences. Some of these include cravings, irritability or mood swings, secretive behaviors, avoidance of friends and family, or destructive thoughts. Let us walk alongside you on the path to sobriety and wellness.

What Is An Addiction Trigger?

The practice of self-care during mind-body relaxation translates into self-care in the rest of life. Part of creating a new life in recovery is finding time to relax. Individuals use drugs and alcohol to escape negative emotions; however, they also use as a reward and/or to enhance positive emotions . In these situations, poor self-care often precedes drug or alcohol use. For example, individuals work hard to achieve a goal, and when it is achieved, they want to celebrate. But as part of their all-or-nothing thinking, while they were working, they felt they didn’t deserve a reward until the job was done. Since they did not allow themselves small rewards during the work, the only reward that will suffice at the end is a big reward, which in the past has meant using.

types of relapse triggers

In many cases, when you feel “normal” again, you might be overly confident that you can handle being in situations that serve as external triggers. That confidence is one of the most difficult internal triggers to manage. You have to make sure that you prepare yourself with the proper tools and coping methods to avoid being surprised by cravings.

Part of challenging addictive thinking is to encourage clients to see that they cannot be good to others if they are first not good to themselves. Despite its importance, self-care is one of the most overlooked aspects of recovery.

Addiction Recovery Programs

People at risk of a relapse should avoid stressful situations that are likely to push them to use drugs and alcohol. You will also find information on spotting the signs and symptoms of substance use and hotlines for immediate assistance. Certainly, after Day One, you should be able to work with greater attentiveness and clarity than before starting treatment.

Aftercare resources such as 12-step groups, sober living homes and support for family and friends promote a life rich with rewarding relationships and meaning. Medication alone can reduce cravings and withdrawal, but recovering from an addictive disorder requires a rewiring of the brain and medication alone is not enough. Attention to eliminating things in life that cause stress or depression will help minimize the chance of relapse. Disassociating with friends who are in active addiction can be difficult but very necessary. An experienced counselor/therapist will be able to teach other techniques that will further help undo some of the brain changes and conditioned learning that occurred while becoming and once addicted. Just because you’ve relapsed doesn’t mean you’ve completely failed. Developing a relapse prevention plan with your counselor before exiting your drug and alcohol rehab program will help ensure that you know how to respond to relapse situations effectively and productively.

While they may seem to develop out of nowhere, these addiction cravings are typically brought on by relapse triggers. A missing piece of the puzzle for many clients is understanding the difference between selfishness and self-care. Clinical experience has shown that addicted individuals typically take less than they need, and, as a result, they become exhausted or resentful and turn to their addiction to relax or escape.

Managing Relapse Triggers

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Meaning, you can purposefully avoid certain places, cut off relationships with certain people, and take other intentional actions to limit your exposure to triggers. Although these numbers may be discouraging, the important thing to remember is that relapse is not a sign that addiction treatment failed. Drug detox, rehab, and other forms of treatment are not cures for addiction, and substance use disorders cannot be cured.

In recovery, people don’t have that option and often struggle to accept and process negative feelings. When it comes down to situations, everyone handles adversity differently. While some people manage difficult situations with ease, people in recovery can easily slip back into old habits when dealing with new situations.

Ways You Can Avoid Relapse Triggers

Occasional, brief thoughts of using are normal in early recovery and are different from mental relapse. When people enter a substance abuse program, I often hear them say, “I want to never have to think about using again.” It can be frightening when they discover that they still have occasional cravings. They feel they are doing something wrong and that they have let themselves and types of relapse triggers their families down. They are sometimes reluctant to even mention thoughts of using because they are so embarrassed by them. While it’s important for your loved one to feel confident in their own ability to recover from addiction, overconfidence can be dangerous and a common sign of relapse. This supposed period of improvement could be them trying to overcompensate for something.

If it feels like something is wrong, something probably is wrong. Sonia Tagliareni is a writer and researcher for She started her professional writing career in 2012 and has since written for the finance, engineering, lifestyle and entertainment industry. Sonia holds a bachelor’s degree from the Florida Institute of Technology. Education on coping skills can help people manage thoughts of using. After removing the corticosterone-producing glands from the rats, researchers observed a lack of relapse behavior after triggering them with low doses of cocaine.

Therefore, they feel it is defensible or necessary to escape their negative feelings. The cognitive challenge is to indicate that negative feelings are not signs of failure, but a normal part of life and opportunities for growth. Helping clients feel comfortable with being uncomfortable can reduce their need to escape into addiction. As such, although your loved one may be in recovery, that doesn’t mean they don’t still wrestle with the same thoughts and feelings that fueled their addiction in the first place. While treatment can, and should, help them address these, addiction relapse triggers can be difficult to avoid, and the temptation to use can be equally challenging to resist. For many people, recovery is a lifelong battle and recovery process that never truly ends. Family and friends who use substances put people in recovery in a perilous situation where they may be tempted to accept a drink or consume a drug.

When non-addicts do not develop healthy life skills, the consequence is that they may be unhappy in life. When recovering individuals do not develop healthy life skills, the consequence is that they also may be unhappy in life, but that can lead to relapse.