Drug and alcohol addiction is a chronic disease with no cure, so your recovery is a lifelong process. For most people, it takes a lot of hard work and dedication to stay sober. While 40-60% of those in recovery relapse during their first year of recovery, you may be able to stave off this predicament by recognizing your relapse triggers.
Common Addiction Triggers
Relapse after 5 full years of complete sobriety is rare, so to give yourself the best chance for this total success, it is very important to recognize your relapse triggers. You can start by using this addiction triggers list as a general guideline, and then fine-tune it with your specific details.
- Stress: It tops the list because it is a part of all other relapse triggers, whether it is physical or psychological stress.
- Emotions: Negative emotions can create numbing urges of course, but extreme positive emotion should be considered and planned to prevent “celebratory relapse.”
- Relationships: Many recovery programs strongly suggest that you not enter new relationships within the first year of recovery. You should also review others that you have, and make the necessary changes.
- Big life changes: New jobs or promotions, buying a house, moving, taking a big trip; all of these can result in extreme emotions and stress and should be avoided during early recovery.
- Social settings: Bars and parties are obvious examples of places you may need to avoid, but also consider other settings such as conferences, festivals, and even family gatherings.
- Illness: Whether it is your own or that of a loved one, you may not be able to avoid illness, but you should have coping mechanisms already in place and practiced in case it occurs.
- Selective memory: At times, you may find yourself glorifying the “high” of the substance abuse, choosing to forget the negative impact it had on your life.
- HALT: Establish a daily routine that will help you avoid being Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired. These are states that can weaken your willpower and lend themselves to poor health decisions.
How to Face Addiction Triggers
It may not be possible, or even advisable, to avoid addiction triggers. A “face your enemies” technique may work for some. For example, smells are some of the most powerful memory triggers. If the smell of a charcoal grill triggers your desire to have a burger and a beer, it is not practical to ask your neighbors to never barbecue again. You need to have a coping mechanism in place to deal with this relapse trigger.
If this was not already part of your initial treatment process, you can develop a means of dealing with addiction triggers by:
- Identifying your triggers – Write them down, and get as detailed as possible.
- Planning ahead – Come up with ideas of how to optimally deal with your relapse triggers. Your plan may be different for different cues.
- Accepting the possibility – Do not fool yourself into thinking addiction triggers won’t happen. They will.
- Replacing or Distracting – Part of your relapse trigger process may be to find a different “reward,” such as watching a favorite movie instead of indulging in your past behavior. You can also make a list of healthy distractions that will help get you through the trigger time.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – This may sound quite clinical, but it is a strong base for helping patients in recovery deal with relapse triggers.
The Steps to Continued Recovery Success
The alone time or “me time” is a wonderful opportunity for reflection and self-awareness, but it is also important to put together a team of caring people to help you through your recovery process.
In addition to supportive loved ones, choose medical professionals who will work with you on an individual basis, and not try to treat you with a “cookie-cutter” therapy. Steps Recovery Centers believes in a family-centric program that is customized to each patient’s needs. We are about more than just rehabilitation; we understand the importance of education for all involved in this journey.
Contact us today for more information about our programs, facilities, staff, and education opportunities. Join us in a safe, healthy, and productive environment that can help nurture a successful program for your recovery.