How to Identify Substance Abuse Triggers and Cope with Cravings

Another goal of therapy at this stage is to help clients identify their denial. I find it helpful to encourage clients to compare their current behavior to behavior during past relapses and see if their self-care is worsening or improving. Contact a treatment providertoday if you are in need of addiction treatment or help in your recovery. Careful and thorough coaching by a professional addiction counselor is key to helping an individual with an addiction identify their specific triggers and to make a plan to manage them. Returning to the same dysfunctional or isolated living situation will reactivate the addiction memory, the behaviors that led to substance use in the living environment, and/or the people in it.

What is an example of relapse?

A relapse refers to a return of alcohol or other drug use, or gambling, which someone has previously managed to control or quit completely. In a relapse the use of alcohol or other drugs or gambling goes back to previous levels of use, or close to this. For example: June has been abstinent from alcohol for three weeks.

Identifying triggers starts with knowing yourself, and knowing the symptoms. Ultimately, the best way to recognize a potential or current sign of relapse is to listen to your loved one—and to your own instincts. It is all too easy to write off red flags as something temporary or innocuous, but ignoring a potential relapse will only make recovery harder in the long run. If it feels like something is wrong, something probably is wrong.

What are Common Relapse Triggers?

As such, although your loved one may be in recovery, that doesn’t mean they don’t still wrestle with the same thoughts and feelings that fueled their addiction in the first place. While treatment can, and should, help them address these, addiction relapse triggers can be difficult to avoid, and the temptation to use can be equally challenging to resist. Reminiscing about or dwelling on memories of past substance abuse is one of the brightest red flags in terms of triggers and relapse. If you find yourself stuck thinking about drugs or alcohol, it’s time to get your support system involved. Talk to a counselor, supportive friend or your sponsor to help remind you why you’ve chosen recovery. There are many categories of addiction relapse triggers, and they fall into multiple groups.

What are the 5 determinants of relapse?

  • Motivation.
  • Mental Strength.
  • Family & Relationships.
  • Anxiety & Depression.

Post-acute withdrawal begins shortly after the acute phase of withdrawal and is a common cause of relapse . Unlike acute withdrawal, which has mostly physical symptoms, post-acute withdrawal syndrome has mostly psychological and types of relapse triggers emotional symptoms. Its symptoms also tend to be similar for most addictions, unlike acute withdrawal, which tends to have specific symptoms for each addiction . In mental relapse, there is a war going on inside people’s minds.

Common Addiction Relapse Triggers and Warning Signs

You can always find me in nature during my self care time, usually hiking, roller skating by the beach, or surfing the waves. I lead a healthy & holistic way of living that I enjoy sharing with others. Dawn has been providing individual nutritional counseling and group counseling for more than 20 years. Her approach has been to work beyond education and training, focusing on real-life practical applications and tools. Many situations may be high-risk for one person and fine for another. The important thing is to recognize situations that cause stress and prepare strategies to mitigate it. The HALT acronym helps those in recovery keep an eye on some of the most basic human needs that can lead to or intensify triggers if not fulfilled.

  • You may feel happy, in control of your body, and confident enough to handle one drink.
  • Zemore SE, Subbaraman M, Tonigan JS. Involvement in 12-step activities and treatment outcomes.
  • The practice of self-care during mind-body relaxation translates into self-care in the rest of life.
  • Technology gives us the tools to stay connected to our support groups even if they’re not in the same time zone.
  • Knowing what your strongest triggers are and having a plan for healthy coping can keep you on the road to long term recovery.

Triggers may seem to be everywhere, and you might want to isolate yourself to avoid them. Therefore, it’s essential to develop coping methods that allow you to work through your triggers without resorting to drugs. You might need to find alternative places to hang out or take time away from the family for self-care on a regular basis. Because many people begin using drugs to manage pressure, they might not know how to handle stress triggers if they haven’t developed other coping mechanisms. Like Pavlov’s dogs, which learned to salivate when they heard a bell ringing, people with addiction learn to crave drugs as a response to certain situations.

Learning from Setbacks

It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers. A therapist or counselor can help you learn to listen to your mind and body to identify when you’re feeling stressed as well as help you develop healthy coping mechanisms. Despite its importance, self-care is one of the most overlooked aspects of recovery. Without it, individuals can go to self-help meetings, have a sponsor, do step work, and still relapse. Self-care is difficult because recovering individuals tend to be hard on themselves . Self-care is especially difficult for adult children of addicts .

  • For many people, drug and alcohol use began as a way to alleviate boredom or make certain activities feel more fun.
  • The good news is that you won’t be compounding them with more trouble caused by your drug and alcohol addiction.
  • When you’re reminded of your addiction, it’s important to have effective ways of handling your feelings.
  • If you’re sitting around with nothing to do, you’re at high risk of experiencing urges to drink or do drugs.
  • Learning to cope with the stresses of daily living without turning to alcohol or drugs is not easy for someone who has repeatedly used these types of substances.

They feel they have lost part of their life to addiction and don’t want to spend the rest of their life focused on recovery. In the second stage of recovery, the main task is to repair the damage caused by addiction .

Growth Stage

When you are bored or isolated, you are left with your thoughts and emotions, which you often do not want to hear. The more you become socially isolated, the easier it is to make sense of drug or alcohol use to yourself.

types of relapse triggers

Having confidence is important, but becoming overconfident may prompt you to feel like you don’t need a relapse prevention plan. As a result, you may find yourself in high-risk situations that could easily trigger a relapse. You can prevent this by keeping yourself in check and staying humble through the recovery process. Treating these co-occurring disorders alongside your addiction will increase your ability to maintain long-term sobriety.


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