What are the Common Relapse Triggers in Addiction Recovery?

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What are the Common Relapse Triggers in Addiction Recovery?

Addiction is very complicated due to the possibility of returning to substance abuse following a period of recovery. Physicians consider addiction to be a chronic condition. When addiction affects individuals, they may run the risk of experiencing relapse at any point in their lifetime, even after years of sobriety. To reduce the possibility of relapsing and returning to drug or alcohol use, those in recovery need to learn to identify the common relapse triggers. In addition, they need to learn practical ways to overcome these triggers rather than returning to drug use.

Common Relapse Triggers and Recovery

Once individuals complete a rehabilitation program and quit using harmful or addictive substances, they can continue with their daily lives free of drugs or alcohol. However, there is a chance that those in recovery may relapse and return to drug or alcohol use. In fact, according to statistics provided by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, between 40 to 60 percent of those in recovery from addiction are likely to suffer at least one relapse during their lifetimes.

Triggers and Relapse

An individual must learn to cope with relapse triggers before they can be a key point in avoiding relapse to drug or alcohol use. Regression appears to be most common in the months immediately following recovery. However, the information provided by the National Development and Research Institutes shows that up to 17 percent of relapses may even occur after five years of being free of addictive substances.

Learning the appropriate behaviors and coping skills during recovery treatment can help individuals avoid potential triggers or overcome them as they occur. Each person has different triggers that may increase the risk of a relapse. However, there are some common relapse triggers in addiction that a majority of those in recovery may face when trying to remain drug-free.


One of the most common triggers is the experience of perceived negative emotions. Rather than dealing with the cause of these emotions, individuals may turn to drug or alcohol use to try to avoid the experience.

Some common emotions that may trigger relapse include:

  • Anger, resentment
  • Anxiety, fear
  • Frustration, stress
  • Loneliness, self-pity
  • Depression, fatigue
  • Boredom, indifference
  • Other feelings the individual wishes to avoid


An individual’s attitude can affect the risk of relapse. Complacency or lack of motivation, overconfidence, and refusing to change behaviors associated with drug or alcohol use may all increase the risk of relapse. Attending a treatment or aftercare program can help those with addiction issues. They can gain motivation for recovery and change problem behaviors.  These individuals also learn skills for recognizing common relapse triggers.

People, Places, and Things

The brain often associates substance abuse with certain people, places, things, and events. Learning to avoid these triggers and make different choices can help reduce the risk of relapse. A sudden influx of cash may also trigger a relapse.

When you return from addiction treatment, you should block and delete numbers of previous friends with whom you did drugs or drank alcohol. Today, you also need to delete them from your social media. If you will do this, when cravings hit, you cannot call them up to get easy access to your drug of choice. You will have previous friends coming around wanting to do drugs or drink alcohol. When this happens, make it clear that you are sober now and have no interest.

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Overcoming Triggers

Attending addiction treatment, especially in an inpatient setting, is vitally important to help individuals. You will learn your own potential triggering situations and events to help you prepare for the possibility of relapse. A study published in the journal, Addiction, shows that those who receive treatment are more likely to overcome common relapse triggers than those who try to overcome their addictions alone.

Learn to identify the possible triggers you may face during the recovery process.  If you learn ways to overcome these situations and events, you are more likely to remain free of harmful substances.  Also, it will help you to quickly get back on track should a relapse occur.

What if I Relapse?

If you do face some of the common relapse triggers and slip a little or have a complete relapse, it does not mean that you have failed. Return to therapy and receive more counseling. Then pick yourself up and start again. Stay in a good aftercare program. Those in recovery do not always attain success the first time in recovery.

If you or a loved one need help to overcome an addiction to drugs or alcohol, seek treatment in an inpatient rehab facility.  A Forever Recovery offers many individualized programs. One will fit your needs and preferences.  Contact one of our representatives to learn more about our facility and treatment plans. They can answer any questions you may have.

Don’t wait! Start your road to recovery today.


  • verywellmind.com – Top 5 Triggers of Relapse and How to Avoid Them

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