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What Are Relapse Triggers: Internal Vs External Relapse Triggers

It is essential to understand what might trigger you to relapse and learn healthy coping mechanisms when triggered. Sometimes individuals who are new to sobriety experience a pink cloud, or have notions that they will never use alcohol or drugs ever again no matter what. They have such bad memories of their substance use, and are enjoying their recovery journey. Sure, it is a great feeling when you are confident in your recovery, but keep in mind that everyone is eligible for relapse.

  • These factors include the person’s individual history of substance abuse, co-occurring mental health disorders, and life experiences.
  • It also may help to have a healthy activity that you can do instead like going for a run, seeing a movie, having dinner with a sponsor, or reading a good book.
  • Some people experience cravings when they’re feeling good because they want to feel even better, while the same person may also experience cravings when they’re feeling especially down or sad.

Probably the most common misinterpretation of complete honesty is when individuals feel they must be honest about what is wrong with other people. I like to tell patients that a simple test of complete honesty is that they should feel “uncomfortably honest” when sharing within their recovery circle. This is especially important in self-help groups in which, after a while, individuals sometimes start to go through the motions of participating.

What Happens If I Relapse?

Clinical experience has shown that the following are some of the causes of relapse in the growth stage of recovery. This is also the time to deal with any family of origin issues or any past trauma that may have occurred. But they can be stressful issues, and, if tackled too soon, clients may not have the necessary coping skills to handle them, which may lead to relapse. They are caused by insufficient coping skills and/or inadequate planning, which are issues that can be fixed [8]. Clients are encouraged to challenge their thinking by looking at past successes and acknowledging the strengths they bring to recovery [8].

The goal of treatment is to help individuals recognize the early stages, in which the chances of success are greatest [1]. Second, recovery is a process of personal growth with developmental milestones. Third, the main tools of relapse prevention are cognitive therapy and mind-body relaxation, which change negative thinking and develop healthy coping skills [3]. Fourth, most relapses can be explained in terms of a few basic rules [4].

Behavioral triggers (routine, habits)

On the other hand, the anniversary of a loved one’s death or a funeral may stir up thoughts and emotions that can lead to substance use and trigger thoughts of getting back to your drug of choice. Family, friends, and addiction recovery professionals are essential to help you avoid triggers whenever possible, and provide you with the right coping mechanisms to guide you through these episodes. Once a person decides to identify their relapse triggers, they need to start monitoring their emotions. When an urge is present, the addict should stop and recognize their emotional state. Additionally, aftercare is essential because you may not be able to recognize these triggers until you go back out into the world and experience them.

types of relapse triggers

Boredom and isolation could easily be listed as the number one reason for relapse by many individuals in early recovery. Any and all down time prior to recovery was usually used getting their substance, using their substance, and recovering from their substance. As such, individuals new to sobriety often find lots of time on their hands.

The Importance of Identifying Addiction Triggers in Recovery

People often use drugs or alcohol to gain temporary relief from these feelings, which can easily lead a person back to addictive behaviors. Experiencing these emotions is normal and an essential aspect of recovery (and life) – but they are uncomfortable. Learning how to manage your feelings is an integral part of recovery (and life, again) and can help to avoid the risk of relapse.

types of relapse triggers

Therapy, as a part of aftercare, creates an opportunity to address these triggers even after the completion of a substance abuse program. Triggers that someone could avoid include things like situations where they know they’ll be likely to relapse, such as bars or places where drugs are available. Other avoidable triggers include people, for example, talking to their former dealer or abusive partner. Some places, such as the neighborhood they used to buy drugs, the liquor store they frequented, and so on.

After treatment, relapse prevention programs are typically offered as ongoing support to help individuals maintain their recovery. This can include ongoing therapy, support groups, or participation in a 12-step program. By developing a toolkit of healthy coping mechanisms, individuals can better navigate the challenges of recovery and build a more fulfilling life in sobriety. When combined, mindfulness and meditation can help individuals gain greater awareness of their thoughts, feelings, and behavior patterns, allowing them to address addiction triggers more effectively. Mindfulness and meditation are two of the most effective coping strategies for managing addiction triggers. Mindfulness is a practice that encourages focus on the present moment and can help to reduce stress, improve concentration and increase emotional regulation.

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. There are many risks to recovery at this stage, including physical cravings, poor self-care, wanting to use just one more time, and struggling with whether one has an addiction. Clients are often eager to make big external changes in early recovery, such as changing jobs or ending a relationship. It is generally felt that big changes should be avoided in the first year until individuals have enough perspective to see their role, if any, in these issues and to not focus entirely on others. For those struggling with substance abuse and addiction, it isn’t uncommon for the affected person to return to alcohol or drug use.

You may not be able to walk that path for them, but you can help them stick to it—and help guide them back to it if they should lose their way. However, don’t panic if the warning signs above sound all too familiar. Even if your loved one is already in the throes of relapse, there is still hope for recovery—both in the short and long term. Learning to recognize triggers, getting help from a counselor, and building a support network are all useful tools in preventing a relapse.

When you are bored or isolated, you are left with your thoughts and emotions, which you often do not want to hear. The more you become socially isolated, the easier it is to make sense of drug or alcohol use to yourself. Negative feelings are a part of everyday life; it’s essential not to let them get hold of you.

Category: Sober living

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