Relapse Triggers: What Are They? Understanding Triggers for Relapse

Past relapses are taken as proof that the individual does not have what it takes to recover [9]. Cognitive therapy helps clients see that recovery is based on coping skills and not willpower. Helping clients avoid high-risk situations is an important goal of therapy. Clinical experience has shown that individuals have a hard time identifying their high-risk situations and believing that they are high-risk. Sometimes they think that avoiding high-risk situations is a sign of weakness.

It is important to know that relapse does not represent a moral weakness. It reflects the difficulty of resisting a return to substance use in response to what may be intense cravings but before new coping strategies have been learned and new routines have been established. For that reason, some experts prefer not to use the term “relapse” but to use more morally neutral terms such as “resumed” use or a “recurrence” of symptoms. Research has found that getting help in the form of supportive therapy from qualified professionals, and social support from peers, can prevent or minimize relapse.

Emotional Relapse

To avoid relapse, it is important to understand the risk factors and causes that typically lead to relapse. Understanding these risk factors will help you to avoid the potential risk of relapse during or following recovery. Practicing mindfulness also aids in dealing with triggers without using substances. It helps you break free from unhelpful thought patterns and focus on healthier alternatives for managing stress.

types of relapse triggers

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. 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]. In bargaining, individuals start to think of scenarios in which it would be acceptable to use. A common example is when people give themselves permission to use on holidays or on a trip.

The treatment’s history

Believe it or not, some of the closest people to you can trigger a relapse. While it is difficult to step away from friends, family, and loved ones; sometimes, you may have to keep them at an arm’s length. And if you can’t avoid these people in your life,  you should consider limiting your time with them, even if it is a coworker or your employers; Limit how much time you spend with them in the office. In the process, you will be able to better maintain your abstinence and find it easier for you to recover. On average more than 85% of individuals are susceptible to relapse in the following year after drug and alcohol treatment. Relapse triggers are far more extreme for recovering addicts in the early recovery months of addiction treatment.

Sometimes people relapse because, in their eagerness to leave addiction behind, they cease engaging in measures that contribute to recovery. Once a person begins drinking or taking drugs, it’s hard to stop the process. Good treatment programs recognize the relapse process and teach people workable exit strategies from such experiences. Recovery is a process of growth and (re)establishing a sustainable life. Experts in addiction recovery believe that relapse is a process that occurs somewhat gradually; it can begin weeks or months before picking up a drink or a drug.


Physical illness and chronic pain also stress the body and can increase the risk of relapse. These triggers can vary from person to person, but some common examples include stress, boredom, loneliness, and feeling overwhelmed. Other triggers may include seeing people who use drugs, being in certain places, or even certain smells or sounds. Awareness of potential triggers and reaching out to your support system when needed can help overcome the challenges posed by reminders of past use. By staying vigilant and seeking help when necessary, you can continue your recovery journey and avoid the pitfalls of relapse.

types of relapse triggers

Triggers can be difficult, but their impact can be fleeting with the right coping systems in place. One of the most rewarding aspects of recovery is rediscovering your passions and finding new things that bring you joy. Immersing yourself in something you enjoy, whether it’s kayaking, painting, crafting, golfing, or crafting something new in the kitchen, can help you cope with unwanted feelings and thoughts.

Relapse Prevention Therapy and Recovery Coaching in Hawaii

These emotional states can range from anger, sadness, and loneliness to boredom or stress. Experiencing strong emotions such as anger, sadness, or joy can also act as a reminder or increase the urge to use. The best way to avoid environmental addiction triggers is to become aware of your surroundings and the people around you. Being around certain people can lead to relapse, so limiting your contact with them is crucial. Addiction triggers can be challenging to identify, especially in the early stages of recovery. But understanding and recognizing them is critical to successful long-term sobriety.

Fortunately, while there are several ways you may experience a trigger, there are also several ways you can positively cope with those triggers. Since triggers are so varied and individualized, self-awareness is vital in the recovery journey. Whether or not emotional pain causes addition, every person who has ever experienced an addiction, as well as every friend and family member, knows that addiction creates a great deal of emotional pain.

If I can be of service, please visit my website and I invite you to explore my new book Reclaim Your Life – You and the Alcoholic/Addict. In addition, please check out my conference that I will be moderating in May as the information is posted on my website. Call 24/7 to have a discussion with one of our treatment professionals the call is completely free. Admission Line and explanation of convenient private phone and free prescreening. Self-efficacy refers to a person’s confidence in their own ability to achieve something. When a person’s self-efficacy is low, they may have a hard time believing in their ability to maintain abstinence.

  • Recovery is an opportunity for creating a life that is more fulfilling than what came before.
  • Therefore, a return to drug or alcohol use may seem like a good way to get back to feeling OK, curbing withdrawal symptoms, and combating strong cravings.
  • Keeping a trigger diary is an effective way for individuals to identify and anticipate triggers in their daily lives.
  • Therapy is an essential step to learning to identify and manage your triggers.
  • The more ACEs children have, the greater the possibility of poor school performance, unemployment, and high-risk health behaviors including smoking and drug use.