In the United States alone, there is an estimated 20 million people dealing with recovery from addiction right now. This includes addiction to both drugs and alcohol. Around every corner, there is risk of relapse as addiction has so many facets.
Addicts will have to cope with triggers daily. Any one of these triggers can cause relapse. This is why relapse prevention is an important part of recovery. Medical experts and addiction specialists know this.
A relapse trigger is something that occurs that can lead to a relapse. Of course, these can be very different for everyone, depending on who you are. However, there are some triggers that are much more typical than others.
Whether you’re a drug addict or an alcoholic, you have been used to a different type of “normal” for a while. Once substances are removed from the equation, the real normal just isn’t anymore. Your feelings and your emotions can go crazy. One minute you might be feeling excessively happy and excited. The next minute, you’re crying and feeling angry.
When you go into recovery, you are hit with brand new feelings. Some of these may be steeped in old memories that you purposely tried to forget. Managing these feelings takes some serious adjusting. At times, it’s much easier to go back to using than to even try.
Everyone encounters stress on a regular basis. Most of these are daily stressors that pose small problems, but then those problems are solved. For a recovering addict, this process isn’t quite so cut and dry. An issue that someone else might take in stride can quickly become catastrophic to someone in recovery.
Recovering addicts often find themselves surrounded by stress. They haven’t had to deal with it in so long, and they’re not as equipped as they were. It’s as though they’re not able to take a step back and look at stressful situations differently. For many addicts, returning to their addictions seems to be the answer to their problems.
It’s good to be exited about your recovery. Actually, it’s wonderful, and it makes it so much easier on you mentally and physically. However, you should avoid falling into the trap of thinking you’ll never use again. This is because the fact is, you simply don’t know.
Sometimes addicts believe that they’ve found the key to never using again. It comes to them as a revelation, and they fail to recognize the power of their addictions. Instead, they begin to believe that they are more powerful. It is a very cocky way to think about recovery. More often than not, they will end up relapsing.
The best way to avoid this trigger is to reject that mindset. You can maintain your excitement, but you also must have respect for your addiction. It is quite powerful. It’s much better to take each day one day at a time.
Anger among recovering addicts can happen for many different reasons. Sometimes people become angry because they’re trying to cover up their fear. They may feel ashamed or embarrassed about their addictions. Other times they may just lash out at friends and family for no real reason at all.
Again, this is dealing with emotions, and emotions are very powerful. Addicts are being forced to look at parts of their lives they thought they’d never see again. It’s not easy to ask for help when you feel yourself spiraling out of control. More often than not, relapsing seems like a comforting option.
There are a million different excuses that addicts might give for why they no longer need treatment. They may claim that they’re wasting their money because it’s not helping them. They may say that they have everything under their control. Or, they could try to assure concerned family members that they’ve learned everything.
An excuse is an excuse, no matter how it’s packaged. Quitting AA, NA, or counseling is a recipe for disaster. It’s also an almost sure sign that a relapse isn’t too far away. Success in addiction recovery comes from remaining in treatment long-term.
Friendships are important, and addicts will often find themselves missing their old friends. Even if they made commitments to never see them again, it’s so easy to give in to the temptation. Old friends who are addicts are not likely to understand your desire to remain in recovery. They’re likely to tell you that it won’t hurt for you to use with them one time. They’ll assure you that it’s “just for old time’s sake.” The moment you give in, you’ve relapsed.
It would be wonderful if no relationships were toxic. Unfortunately, that’s not a possibility. Cutting out those people who could do you harm is the only way to avoid this trigger.
Even though many addicts know they shouldn’t, they often have fond memories about using. Many of these memories are linked to locations that are important to them. Going to these locations can be a quick trigger.
If you’re an addict, you should try to avoid this. It certainly won’t be easy, and you may have to miss some important events. However, it will surely be worth it.
Warning Signs for a Relapse
There are several different warning signs you can look for to show you that relapse is imminent. If you’re no longer interested in going to treatment, that’s a major one. It could also be close if you have started thinking about using again on a regular basis.
Addicts will frequently “romanticize” drugs and alcohol in their minds. They’ll find themselves daydreaming about how good life was when they used to use. This is also a sign that you need to think about ways you can prevent relapsing.
If either of these begin happening in your life, you should consider them to be warning signs. It’s better for you to act quickly. That may be the only way that you can prevent yourself from relapsing.
However, if you do, please know that this is not a sign of failure. There are ways that you can learn from a relapse so that it won’t happen to you again.
Figure Out Who Can Help You if You Feel You Could Relapse
If you feel the pang of a craving or you’re feeling emotionally unstable, you will want to be able to call someone immediately. Find that person you know will be there if you do feel like you could relapse.
It could be your best friend, or your family, or maybe someone from your support group. Whoever you choose, discuss the relapse prevention plan. It’s important for you to know that someone is there for you in your darkest hour.
As you learn more and more about how you’ve supported your addiction in your past, you can drop those habits. This will allow you to fill your life with new and positive moments. The more you do that for yourself, the stronger you’ll be against relapse.
Create a prevention relapse plan that works for you. Trust in your recovery and know that you can overcome addiction. When you fully understand what addiction is, you can then combat the complex reasons you began in the first place.