5 Ways to Avoid Relapse Triggers
Published: August 5, 2021
Triggers can present themselves in a variety of forms and are unique to each individual. A trigger is an emotional, environmental, or social stimulus that elicits a reaction by prompting memories of drug or alcohol use in the past. Experiencing a trigger can be dangerous as they often cause addicts to eventually relapse, which is when a person addicted to drugs or alcohol resumes their substance use following a prolonged period of abstinence.
Types of Triggers
There are 2 primary types of triggers, external and internal. External triggers are from the outside world, such as places, people, and objects. Internal triggers are more complex as they involve complex emotions like stress, loneliness, and frustration.
3 Stages of Relapse
It is essential to understand that relapse does not happen overnight. Instead, relapse is a gradual process that begins weeks or months before an affected individual indulges in their addictive behavior. To prevent relapse from occurring, it is crucial to recognize its early stages.
The first stage of relapse is emotional relapse, when individuals are not yet considering a return to drugs or alcohol since their last relapse is still prominent in their mind; however, their emotions and behaviors are paving the way for a relapse in the future. Some indicators that a person may be in emotional relapse are:
- Bottled up emotions
- Focusing on others
- Lack of self-care
In mental relapse, individuals’ minds are torn between wanting to use, but not wishing to use. As mental relapse progresses, a person’s cognitive resistance to relapse deteriorates more and more each day. Some signs of mental relapse include:
- Craving drugs or alcohol
- Reminiscing on and glamorizing past use
- Lying and bargaining
- Looking for relapse opportunities
The final stage of relapse is when an individual begins to use drugs or alcohol again. Initially, individuals may “lapse”, where they only have one drink or take a small amount of drugs. Unfortunately, using these substances just once typically results in a relapse of uncontrollable use.
5 Ways to Avoid Relapse Triggers
The key to stopping the relapse process before it begins is to avoid relapse triggers. There are a number of ways in which to evade relapse triggers and restructure your stance on life.
1. Redefine fun
Past addicts often glamorize their past alcohol or drug use as “fun,” while associating the recovery process as hard work. Behavioral therapy helps you to re-define what you consider to be fun. This may entail reminding you of activities that you used to enjoy before addiction began to dominate your life.
2. Learn from setbacks
Recovery looks different for every addict, and setbacks are a normal part of progress for most. Perceiving setbacks as failures often causes you stress and other negative emotions. To halt these internal triggers, recognize setbacks as opportunities for growth.
3. Become comfortable with the uncomfortable
Growth never happens in the comfort zone, rather growth occurs when you are uncomfortable. To justify their substance abuse, addicts often assume that non-addicts do not experience the same negative emotions that they do. Instead, it is important to understand that discomfort is a natural part of life, and it provides opportunities for growth and self-improvement.
4. Practice self-care
If you prioritize your well-being first and foremost, internal stressors are less likely to arise. Self-care can look like practicing yoga, trying meditation, sleeping enough, avoiding caffeine, exercising, or eating healthy.
5. Restructure your lifestyle
To refrain from encountering physical triggers of past drug or alcohol behavior, you may need to significantly alter your lifestyle. Changing your life for the better can look like:
- Avoiding people, places, or objects associated with previous drug or alcohol use
- Surrounding yourself with positive and supportive people
- Attending therapy and counseling sessions
Contact Rockland Treatment Center
At Rockland Treatment Center, we understand how difficult it can be to live with addiction. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction or the recovery process, contact us today to take the first step in prioritizing your wellness.