Like the drip, drip, drip of a leaky pipe before it blows, the onset of a relapse begins with small, nearly undetectable, signs. As anyone in recovery will tell you, the threat of relapse is ever present as the “monster” just lies in wait. As it is often referred to, addiction is a wily foe. It is stealthy and omnipresent, and seeks opportunities should you let your guard down.
While in treatment there is an important emphasis on relapse prevention planning. Clients are encouraged to give this assignment careful attention, and to do a thorough and introspective review of potential triggers. Many triggers are obvious, such as hanging out with people who use or drink or becoming over confident to the point of deluding yourself. But with so many possible triggers that can trip up the newly sober individual it bears reviewing here the most common 10 relapse triggers.
What Are the Most Common 10 Relapse Triggers?
Early recovery requires constant vigilance on behalf of the newly sober individual. The addict brain is cunning and will continue to try to convince you to return to using. Being aware of the traps is intrinsic to overcoming the lure when the wrong path beckons. The 10 relapse triggers that most often befall the recovering addict or alcoholic include the following:
- Boredom. Too much down time can allow the mind to conjure up ideas and thoughts about using drugs or alcohol in order to relieve boredom. Just being still and alone with oneself if sometimes very difficult in early recovery, tempting some to return to the substance.
- Loneliness. Cutting old friends loose in recovery can result in feelings of loneliness. Loneliness is a very powerful emotion that can quickly lead to romancing the substance again, using it as substitution for a human relationship.
- Stress. In many cases, abusing drugs or alcohol was initially used as a coping tool for managing stress, so navigating stress in recovery without the crutch can be challenging. Work and family stress can overpower someone in recovery, leading to a relapse.
- Mental wellness disorder. An untreated or undiagnosed mental wellness condition, such as depression or anxiety, can be very triggering. Many with a mood disorder or anxiety used alcohol or drugs to self-medicate, or mask the difficult symptoms.
- Glamorizing addiction. After a certain period of sobriety it is common for those in recovery to begin playing head games with themselves, romancing their time as an addict and pining away for those freewheeling days.
- Social connections. Continuing to hang out with friends or acquaintances that party and do not support your recovery will eventually trigger a relapse.
- Dating. A.A. recommends that someone in early recovery wait a year before initiating a new relationship. Romantic strife or a breakup can trigger deep emotions that may trigger a relapse.
- Overconfidence. Many a recovering addict has fallen victim to overconfidence. After a year or so it may seem entirely reasonable that you can handle having just one drink at an event, resulting in a weeklong bender that ends with a readmit to rehab.
- Stop working the program. Recovery is hard work. It requires your constant attention and a lot of self-discipline. Some may grow weary from this and begin to skip meetings or continue nurturing sober friendships and connections, and that can leave the person vulnerable to relapse.
- Guilt and shame. In recovery, many may feel the full effect of the damage done and harm caused while in active addiction. The feelings of guilt and low self-esteem around these realizations can lead the person to believe there is no point in remaining sober.
Addiction is a complex disease. The triggers that could send one person careening toward relapse may not affect another at all. Knowing your own particular weaknesses and vulnerabilities and humbly seeking support when it becomes clear that the “pipe is springing leaks” and is about to burst. Call someone. Go to a meeting. Distract yourself with a project. Do not let the wily one win.
Ken Seeley Communities is a Full Service Addiction Program in California
Ken Seeley Communities provides a wide range of addiction treatment services, including intervention services, residential detox, outpatient programming, residential rehab, and sober living housing. Our continuing care services can help the newly sober client confront the 10 relapse triggers mentioned above and reinforce relapse prevention. Ken Seeley has a long career in the field of addiction recovery, and is well known for his appearances on A&E’s Intervention series.
Nestled in a beautiful and serene desert setting in Palm Springs, California, Ken Seeley Communities offers an effective blend of evidence-based psychotherapies, complimentary holistic therapies, and a sense of community that helps foster a new healthy life in recovery. For more information about our spectrum of services, please reach out to Ken Seeley Communities today at (877) 744-0502.