For anyone who has been dealing with substance abuse problems in their lives, maintaining sobriety can often be a challenging task. Most people who decide to stop using drugs or drinking try and fail many times before achieving complete recovery from their addiction. Research indicates that most individuals recovering from any addiction will experience at least one relapse in their lifetime. Such people may have to deal with certain emotional and social situations that can arise in their lives, which eventually trigger the desire to drink or use a substance again. Once relapse occurs, it may be difficult to bring those individuals back on the road to recovery.
Addiction relapse is inevitable, but you can have a better shot at avoiding it by becoming aware of certain triggers. Triggers are a natural part of the addiction recovery process. It is possible to be aware of common personal triggers and devise a plan to help you manage them and defend against addiction relapse. The following might be some common stimulants of relapse:
- Social Isolation
Connecting to others socially or making a support system through a recovery group can be mentally exhausting for many people. Some people will try to avoid reaching out to others, leading to prolonged social isolation and increased loneliness. Without anyone around you, it becomes easier to turn to drugs and alcohol use and rationalize it. Social anxiety can become challenging for many addicts in recovery, which is why having a trusted friend or counselor who can help you avoid social isolation. There are family-oriented programs offered by rehabilitation centers such as The Palm Beach Institute committed to connecting your support network to maintain your sobriety.
- Mental or physical illness
Mental illnesses like anxiety and depression or other mental conditions and disorders can trigger alcohol or drug relapse. Chronic pain and physical illness can also increase stress in your body, thus increasing your chances of relapse. You may put yourself at risk of self-medicating with drugs or alcohol. It is better to get help from a doctor or a licensed therapist and tell them that you are in recovery. You should then insist your doctor provide you with non-addictive medicines that can help you avoid a possible relapse.
- HALT: Hungry, Alone, Lonely, Tired
Preventing relapse is important for people in the early stages of addiction recovery. One of the tools that people make use of is HALT. The HALT acronym helps people in recovery be vigilant of basic human needs that can lead to triggers if not fulfilled. If recovery is your top priority, you should try not to become too hungry, alone, lonely, or tired since it may increase stress levels. It would be advisable to plan out your daily meals, practice meditation exercises, seek out social support groups, and maintain regular sleep.
- Romantic Relationships
Experts suggest avoiding getting involved in a romantic relationship in the first year of recovery, which can put you at risk for relapse. If you break off your relationship with your partner, you will get emotionally disturbed, which would trigger another powerful relapse. Therefore, it is important to refrain from dating in early recovery. It is safe to be available for dating when you have managed to stay sober for more than a year.
- Professional Success
Positive events in life may be triggers for relapse. Getting a new job or earning a well-deserved promotion can lead to a strong desire to celebrate. For example, the thought of having a glass of wine or using a drug can be tempting as a way to celebrate your success and joy. The idea of earning more income can also trigger thoughts that now you can buy the drug of your choice. You should not let promotions or other positive events affect your sobriety, as addiction happens to individuals at all levels of professional success. A promotion also comes with additional responsibilities and duties, increasing stress and pressure at work. Therefore, it is important to plan how you will celebrate your success without resorting to alcohol or drugs.
- Remembering Past Drug Use
Addiction happens in the first place because drugs and alcohol use tends to make a person feel good about themselves in some ways. Although they knew addiction was harmful to them and those around them, they often find themselves reminiscing about past substance use. This can be a warning sign, as nostalgia can bring your past addictions back. If you find yourself dwelling on memories of drugs and alcohol, it is better not to ignore it and get your support system involved. Talking to a family member, friend, or sponsor can help remind you why you chose a path to recovery.
Even with the best-made plans to avoid relapses during recovery, the risk is always present. If you do relapse, that does not imply that you are a failure and will be addicted to drugs and alcohol forever. Recovery is possible, but the sooner you act, the better. Knowing your strongest personal triggers and having a healthy plan to cope with them can help get your sobriety back on track. Remember that you can always reach out for help to a trusted friend, contact a support group or attend a rehabilitation center for recovery.