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5 Common Relapse Triggers & How To Prevent Relapse

Drug and alcohol addiction is a terrible affliction with millions of people battling their addiction on a daily basis but through rehabilitation, many people have beaten their addiction and have gone back to living a sober-free lifestyle but we are only human, and there will come a time when faith and strength will be tested through relapse triggers.


It is not uncommon for people that suffer from addiction to relapse during their recovery as there are many different paths to take when recovering – people that suffer from drug or alcohol addiction may relapse once or twice before finally becoming fully sober but the main thing is that you shouldn’t give up on becoming sober and keep faith that you will turn it around through hard work and dedication. 


Understanding certain relapse triggers that could put you in a position where you feel that you might want to take a drink or use drugs, you can feel better equipped and come with up strategies in order to prevent any potential relapses from happening that could damage your recovery.

What Is A Relapse Trigger?

What Is A Relapse Trigger

Triggers are internal and external cues that can cause an addict in recovery to crave substances and force them to potentially relapse. It’s important that people recovering from an addiction fully understand relapse triggers in order to get the proper treatment for their addiction.


Triggers can be social, environmental or emotional situations that someone can find themself in through their everyday life. These cues bring on strong urges for people in recovery to start drinking or using again. These relapse triggers do not force a person to start taking substances again but it drastically increases the likelihood that they will relapse.


There are common triggers that an individual may face when in recovery and they are.


In life, everyone is going to have to deal with stress as it is one of the most natural human responses that we can have about certain tasks or days coming up and it is one of the common causes of people to relapse. Many people who suffer from addiction will turn to either drinking or using substances such as cocaine, heroin or ketamine as a way to deal with it.


During stressful situations, you may find yourself craving alcohol, drugs or addictive activities that can be damaging to your physical and mental health especially if the person’s chosen coping mechanism was taking substances. 


A way that you can prepare yourself through stress is to take a step back and evaluate the current situation you are in, you must realise that you can’t fully remove stress from your life but you can find ways to deal with it. If you can avoid places, people, and things that cause you to stress but we do understand that may be impossible – that doesn’t mean you can’t start to deal with stress better.


If you start practising mindfulness, manage your time more effectively so that you don’t go into full panic mode and start incorporating healthy behaviours that can improve your mentality such as healthy eating, exercising and more, you will find that you can deal with stress a whole lot better.


A very common reason why people say they have relapsed is boredom. While it may sound ‘silly’, boredom can be a quietly dangerous situation that you can be in. Boredom can let your mind drift where you start thinking about situations in your head and you can start thinking about consuming alcohol or taking the drug of your choice.


It’s crucial that if you are in recovery you are keeping yourself busy as a way that you don’t slip into boredom where you may start to think about relapsing. Some of these ways are finding healthy hobbies, learning new skills, working with your counsellors and more.


People who encourage you to participate in addictive behaviours can be dangerous to your recovery even if they are not currently drinking or taking drugs. Certain places, activities and people can cause people to start to crave alcohol or substances as they remind them of addiction, many people in recovery will have a very blinkered view about how past times were and they will believe it was ‘fun’ at the time and only realise after a relapse that it wasn’t. 


When you are started to be reminded of your addiction, it is important that you have an effective way of dealing with the situation and your feelings. An example would be if after work your colleagues ask if would you like to go to a bar, it may be good for you to have a polite response ready.


Again, it can be helpful for you to start doing healthy activities such as going for a run, playing sports, hiking and more. It doesn’t have to be all exercise as you can go places such as cinemas, libraries to read etc.

Celebrating Good News

It is not just negative environments and emotions that can cause a person to relapse but times of celebration can cause people to crave their chosen substance. People may feel extremely happy after good news whether it’d be a new job or a friend’s birthday where you may feel that you can handle just one drink but are you really able to keep it fully under control?


People that struggle with addiction frequently use their capacity to know when to stop. One drink would lead to binge drinking which can force you to slip in to back into your addiction. Having someone close who understands your situation can help you get through these situations. You can also put together plans with your therapist during recovery that can help you handle temptations.

Withdrawal Symptoms

People who are in very early stages of recovery are in danger of relapsing due to the withdrawal symptoms that they are suffering from which can be very painful physically and mentally. Some post-acute withdrawal symptoms can last up to 6 to 18 months.


Depending on what substances you took, the withdrawal symptoms can vary depending on a few factors such as frequency of use, the amount taken and more. It is recommended that you do not attempt to detox yourself but seek out medical professional detox from rehabilitation in order to manage these symptoms successfully and have the best chance of recovery.


During recovery, you might get the urge to relapse, these are called relapse triggers. There are common relapse triggers that can cause people to reuse, find them here and how to prevent any potential relapses.

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