Some people insist there’s no such thing as relapse triggers, but for those who constantly struggle or have been through the cycle of relapse and recovery more times than they’d like to count, these are some areas to be aware of.
Relapse is a constant struggle for many seeking help for drug addiction. Even after long-term treatment, studies show that approximately 60 percent of heroin users relapse. Of course, most of us try to steer clear of the most obvious triggers. We don’t party at the bar on Friday night or hang out with friends in active addiction. This is common sense, and we know that putting ourselves in these situations can negatively impact our recovery and trigger a relapse. However, there are several not-so-obvious relapse triggers you should also know about that could affect your addiction recovery. Here are just a few.
#1 Physical Illness
Whether you have a cold or an infection that simply won’t give up, being ill is not something you enjoy. In fact, it can be downright painful. Unfortunately, this pain can trigger a relapse because it can remind you of what you used to do when you felt like this: you’d use or you’d drink.
The best thing to do in this situation is be ready for it. Visit the doctor if the illness doesn’t seem to be going away on its own and call on a friend in recovery to come and sit with you. Sometimes we don’t need to talk to someone; we just need an accountability partner, a person who will stay with us until we’re feeling stronger.
#2 Romantic Relationships
A new relationship can feel a lot like the euphoria experienced when using drugs. Be aware that this could happen and could actually trigger a relapse into opiate addiction or alcohol abuse. If you’re in a new relationship, prepare for possible relapse triggers by upping your recovery game. Attend more meeting, spend more time on meditation and yoga and take care of yourself.
You’d be surprised at how many fourth steps reveal a pattern of relationship / relapse…relationship / relapse. That’s why early recovery romance (or rehab romances) are discouraged.
The first few months after treatment (or even longer in some cases) may feel like your life is starting over. In reality, it is, and it may take a while before you’re ready to move forward and think about something other than your recovery. But while you’re busy focusing on your recovery toolbox and attending meetings life is happening for those around you.
Your little brother is getting married before you. Your best friend is having a baby. That kid who bullied you in high school just bought a boat. While it may seem like everyone is moving forward in life while you’re stuck in the back of the line, you don’t have to look at it this way. Your addiction was a pit stop in your life. You’re in recovery now, and a healthy mindset is the foundation of your recovery. You can’t afford jealousy or stewing about what you don’t have. You have your life and a chance to be the best version of yourself every day. Allow yourself to be happy for others and the promises will begin to unfold for you as well.
#4 Relapse of a Friend
It’s hard to see the ones we love and have built a recovery community with take a step back in their recovery. While this can easily be a trigger for your own relapse, it can also be a reminder of how much better your life is now that you’re living clean and sober. You choose how you look at the world and situations.
If someone close to you has relapsed, the best thing you can do is reach out to others in recovery. Talk about it. Process your feelings, especially if you’re angry or confused. It’s healthy and an important part of your own recovery journey.
In some cases, moving is a good thing. It can get you away from individuals who were part of your active addiction and who could trigger a relapse. However, moving can be a trigger in itself. According to psychological studies, moving is one of the top ten stressors in life.
If you’re moving away from your support system, relapse is much more likely because you won’t have anyone to turn to or talk to when you’re having doubts about your sobriety. Start connecting with others immediately in your new location.
If possible, begin networking and cultivating relationships several weeks before moving. That way you’ll have accountability partners and a support system when you arrive.
Avoid Those Not-So-Obvious Relapse Triggers
Getting help for opiate addiction, alcoholism or any other type of drug addiction can completely change your life. However, it’s important to know that relapse numbers are high for those in recovery, so avoiding obvious and not-so-obvious relapse triggers is essential to long-term recovery.