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During substance abuse treatment, you’ll learn about addiction triggers and the relapse risk they create. These triggers may be people, places, objects, moods, events–anything that creates stress, anxiety, frustration, or any intense emotion. Monitoring for relapse triggers to avoid them or process them in a healthy way is essential to your long-term recovery.
What Are Common Addiction Relapse Triggers?
Your triggers may be different from another person’s. During addiction therapy, you’ll learn how to identify each of your triggers, how to avoid them, and how to take action when risk is present. Some of the most common triggers include the following:
- Social Isolation. Being unable to have support or healthy social interactions with family and friends creates a heightened risk of relapse. If you are spending a lot of time alone, you may be lacking a support system to encourage you through more difficult times. Sometimes it’s easy to lose motivation to remain sober.
- Stress. Any type of stress at home, work, or school can be a trigger if you do not know how to manage it properly. Stress is the brain’s way of trying to prepare you to take on a challenge, but we’re not always good at interpreting which challenges are important. Recognizing the signs of stress, such as constant worrying or fatigue, can help you to take steps to alleviate it.
- Past Experiences. The places you used to use drugs and alcohol, the people you spent time with, or any past trauma you experienced can also be triggers. All of a sudden, that world comes rushing back at you. It might be nostalgic or frightening, but both feelings can create a desire to use again.
- Lack of Structure. If you are not following a routine that includes proper nutrition, sleep, and exercise each day, you could be at risk for complications. Having a structured day helps you to know what’s coming and lowers anxiety.
- Illness or a Life Change. Any type of significant life change could put you at risk of thinking about using substances again. This could include the onset of an illness, the loss of a loved one, loss of a job, or relationship challenges. These types of events can trigger negative thoughts that may spiral out of control.
- Boredom. As simple as it sounds, being bored is a real trigger for your mind to wander into dangerous areas. Being bored is a sign to try something new, learn a new skill, meet people, or otherwise engage in life more fully.
Learn to Manage Those Triggers
What are your triggers? Write them down and work with your therapist to get a better understanding of what they are. Then, create a plan for what to do when you feel them occurring. For example, if you find yourself struggling with anxiety, step back and think about why that’s happening. Are you feeling anxious and thinking about substances because you’re no longer following your structured routine?
If you are facing difficulties with relationships, create a plan to begin the healing process. This could include meeting with a couples’ or family therapist. It may also mean distancing yourself from certain people or even leaving a long-term relationship if the other person is not willing or able to grow with you.
Warning Signs You Need to Seek Help Now
You can learn to manage triggers. There’s no way to remove all of the stress from your life, but you can learn to recognize what’s happening and then get help. Some warning signs you may need to reach out for help include:
- Thinking about your past drug use in a positive way, as if remembering a “good time”
- Feeling cravings or thinking about using the drug again, even knowing the risks
- Experiencing the onset of anxiety or feeling like you are always worried about something
- Being overconfident in your sobriety to the point that you stop doing the necessary self-care (going to recovery support meetings, seeing a therapist, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, etc.)
- Taking on way too much and then feeling overwhelmed and unable to manage everything
- Changes in your behavior, such as wanting to revisit locations where you used to use substances or talking to people you used to use substances with
- Lying, being dishonest with yourself, or simply neglecting your friends and family even though you may not be using substances right now
Are You at Risk for Relapse?
Don’t let triggers slow down your recovery journey. Instead, work to get help right away if you’re facing thoughts of using again. Canyon Vista Recovery Center is readily available to help you to do just that. Learn more about our drug and alcohol treatment program in Mesa, Arizona today. We’re here to help you now.