Relapse Triggers and How to Avoid Them

Relapse Triggers and How to Avoid Them

Forgiving yourself in addiction recoveryIf you’re in the process of recovery, congratulations! Breaking free from the chains of addiction is no easy task and recovery is something to be celebrated. It is however, a very fragile time in a former addict’s journey and the possibility of relapse is very real. For those who have been in recovery or know people that have, relapse is often not a question of “if” but “when.” If you are a recovering addict know that the chance you’ll relapse exists, but there are certainly ways to avoid it.

Although relapse is relatively common and 40-60 percent of people in recovery fall off the wagon at one point or another, there are still the remaining that folks that make it through. Knowing what the common relapse triggers are and how you can avoid them is a great way to keep you from becoming part of the status quo. There is life after recovery. It’s just a matter of knowing how to get through it without letting your triggers get the best of you and send you spiraling into relapse.

What Triggers Relapse?

Kicking addiction is hard. Really, really hard. Recovery can be even harder than quitting the actual drug itself, with many people succumbing to the evil pressures of addiction and relapsing when they’re on the brink of recovery.

4 Most Common Relapse Triggers

1. Emotional Instability
Recovery can prove to be a place of extreme emotional instability. There are often extreme highs accompanied by extreme lows that can become so bad as to make you seriously question your decision to get clean. Think about it. You’re used to living in a way and then suddenly things are completely different. Negative emotions tend to come on strong when there’s nothing to dull their presence.
Anger, fear and regret are all very common emotions that tend to come up during recovery and if they’re not taken care of can lead even the strongest willed person straight into relapse. It’s hard to cope with these wickedly intense feelings, and sometimes it seems like drugs or alcohol is the only thing that will make them go away.

2. Frequenting Old Places and Friends
If you’re in recovery and serious about staying sober you’ve got to stay far away from the places you used to hang out. It’s also wise to steer clear of any of the old friends associated with your old lifestyle. Being in the same places and seeing old faces can trigger old emotions and make it far too easy to fall back into bad habits. Visiting these old spots and people can make you seriously miss your old lifestyle no matter how detrimental it became. Doing what you’ve always done is going to give you more of what you’ve always got. Remember this the next time you want to just drop by and “just say hello” to an old friend you used to get high with.

3. Succumbing to Boredom
Addiction recovery is definitely not the most exciting of lifestyles. It’s also especially hard to keep yourself occupied sober when you’re used to being messed up all the time. Finding new activities to do sober can seem almost impossible and the temptation to use can be overwhelming. Life may suddenly be void of meaningful activities with the boredom that ensues leading to more emotional instability and psychological issues. Boredom can also push motivation to the wayside, making it more and more difficult to find the drive to embrace a sober lifestyle. What better way to get rid of boredom than through the excitement of drugs or alcohol?

4. Frustration with a Sober Lifestyle
To the addict life is full of excitement, drama, and a false sense of wellbeing. Take this all away with sobriety and you’re left in recovery with more than a little frustration at this newfound lifestyle. It’s easy to become angry, depressed and feel unfulfilled when there’s no drugs or alcohol to add some excitement to the game of life. It can also be extremely discouraging to deal with the wide range of emotions that are all over the map when you’re in recovery. When this exasperation becomes overwhelming it becomes really easy to think using will take these emotions away.

Avoiding Relapse Triggers

Unfortunately triggers are a big part of addiction recovery and are the reason so many recovering addicts relapse. It’s extremely important to have support system with people you can turn to in case you feel triggered to use drugs or alcohol while in recovery. Talking to people who understand your emotional state and can offer the support you need is huge and something not to be taken lightly. One phone call or meeting can seriously be what keeps you from relapsing and it’s vital a support network is in place.

Staying away from your old stomping ground is also recommended for successful recovery. The further you stay away from the places you used to frequent, the better. This goes for old friends you formerly used with as well. No matter how good of a friend you think they were, coming in contact with them can trigger old emotions that are best left untouched.

Getting out and doing new things is also a great way to fight back against the triggers that send you into a tailspin. Take a walk. Get some fresh air. Take a class or start a project.

While the triggers aren’t going to go away just because you’ve stopped using doesn’t mean they have to send you into relapse. Knowing what they are and how to avoid them can save you from succumbing again to addiction’s tight hold.


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