Common Triggers That Cause Relapse in Recovering Addicts

Addiction is hard, no matter your choice of poison. Quitting is harder – but once you see all the positive changes, people, and opportunities it brings along, you will realize that it’s worth it.

Relapse is a nightmare for any recovering addict, but unfortunately, it is not uncommon. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), people recovering from addiction often relapse at least once in their lifetime.

The path to sobriety is not easy, and many people will fall off their recovery path several times before committing to complete abstinence.

Nonetheless, an individual recovering from addiction should not lose hope because of these unfortunate stats and rather take it as a challenge to be better.

Contrary to popular belief, relapsing is a process rather than a single act. Before arriving at the third, physical action, a person goes through two stages, emotional and mental turmoil.

During an emotional relapse, an individual may not even realize that they are in danger of relapsing. They feel negative emotions, and their desire to recover decreases substantially.

Before they enter the mental relapse stage, Intervening now is the key to preventing the relapse. Usually, a recovering individual makes a mental plan about using again, and it’s only a matter of time before they actually do.

The third and final stage is physical relapse. It occurs when an addict actively engages in the behavior or substance they were addicted to, ruining their progress thus far. The path to recovery is a tough one and usually cannot be achieved without reliable support in place.

Facilities like Delphi behavioral health group can provide expert care and support to individuals struggling with an addiction. Consulting professionals who have dealt with addiction, recovery, and relapse in a safe environment can mean all the difference between a life of addiction or a path of sobriety.

Relapses don’t happen randomly– certain triggers always follow them. Identifying what triggers you in advance is the key factor behind keeping your sobriety on track. Let’s look at some common triggers that cause relapse in recovering addicts.

  1. Withdrawal

Studies suggest that almost 40 to 60 percent of the recovering individuals relapse within 30 days of leaving their treatment facilities. This number spikes to 85 percent within a year.

What is the primary reason behind such hopeless relapsing rates? The simple answer is withdrawal.

Withdrawals and the misery they bring along are the number one reason why people relapse and even put off getting sober altogether!

Withdrawals can last up to 6 to 18 months, making the first year and a half of your addiction recovery journey the most sensitive and fragile. During this time, you have to be the strongest to better yourself and your loved ones. Withdrawals, their symptoms, and their intensity can vary depending upon your choice of substance or behavior. Some of the most common withdrawal symptoms are listed below:

  • Nausea/Vomiting
  • Restlessness
  • Hot and cold sweats
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle aches

Withdrawal symptoms of more harmful substances can cause seizures and even be fatal. That is why, for alcohol and other equally strong drugs, it is highly recommended to detox under medical supervision.  

  1. Stress and Depression

Depression and substance abuse go hand in hand. People battling depression often use drugs to feel better. Moreover, substance abuse can lead to depression.

It creates a vicious cycle where a person can neither recover from depression nor drug abuse. Both depression and drug abuse also lead to higher risks of suicide.

A person who suffers from depression has a 10 percent chance of committing suicide. In comparison, an addict battling depression has a 25 percent chance of committing suicide. On the other hand, stress is also one of the most common triggers for relapse. A recovering addict may return to their substance of choice to cope with their stress.

Stress has a way of bringing out the impulsive nature of a person. Stress eating, impulsive shopping, relapses – these are all different consequences of the same problem. Like any other trigger, the way to deal with stress is to evaluate the “why.” Once you identify the root cause of your stress, it becomes far easier to deal with it or at least avoid the stress-inducing situations.

Always consult your therapist to figure out the best coping strategies and ways to navigate stress and depression.

  1. Negative or Complicated Emotions

People who were never taught to deal with their emotions healthily will always try to drown or mute their emotions through a substance or behavior of their choice.

Often, this is the very thing that causes addiction in the first place. People struggling with addiction often feel overwhelmed by their emotions, especially if these emotions are negative or complicated.

The key to facing negative emotions is to realize that they are completely normal. Everyone has negative thoughts and feelings– the point is how you deal with them.

Once you view negative emotions as an inevitable part of your recovery progress, you will learn to use them as an opportunity to self-realize and grow rather than succumb to a substance to subdue them.

  1. Seeing The Object of Your Addiction

Another common relapse trigger is the reminder of your addiction. It can be the object or the activity itself or vague pointers toward it.

A glass of bourbon, a loud bar, or a whiff of tobacco, among many other indicators, can serve as reminders of a troubling past. These reminders can make you crave a certain substance or behavior. It can also paint a rosy, albeit false, picture of your addictive days. One way to deal with these reminders is through a reminder of your own. When faced with the object of your addiction, remind yourself of the reality and aftermath of your past choices.

Tell yourself how it ruined your health and social life and made you merely depend on a substance to function normally.

The Takeaway

Addiction is a difficult ordeal, and recovery is a lifelong process. Each day, a recovering individual makes the conscious choice of staying sober for their own sake and the sake of their families. Recovery may be hard, but it is worth it. Identify your triggers beforehand to make your recovery process easier. Keep your chances of relapse at an all-time low by looking for all the triggers mentioned in this article.

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