According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, between 40 and 60% of people who receive treatment for drug addiction will experience relapse. This means that relapse is a common part of the journey to addiction recovery. If you’ve experienced relapse before, you are not alone, and it doesn’t mean that you’ll never have a successful recovery.
Rather than viewing your relapse as a failure, view it as an opportunity to learn more about yourself and what you need to do in order to avoid relapsing again. Use it as a chance to renew your commitment to a healthy future and seek out the tools you need to continue in your recovery.
While there are countless different triggers that can spark a recovering drug or alcohol addict to relapse, they typically fall into three categories: emotional triggers, environmental triggers, and exposure triggers.
Read on to learn more about the three types of triggers that can lead to addiction relapse and learn how you can gain the tools necessary to respond to those triggers in a healthy way, ultimately resisting the temptation to use and abuse drugs or alcohol.
Emotional Triggers That Can Lead to Addiction Relapse
For many people, difficult emotions and the inability to process them in a healthy way plays a big role in substance abuse in the first place. Common emotions that contribute to drug and alcohol use include anger, loneliness, sadness, guilt, stress, and anxiety.
It’s impossible—and unhealthy—to avoid feeling all negative emotions, so avoiding these relapse triggers after your stay in rehab isn’t a viable option. When those emotions inevitably arise, you may feel tempted to turn to drugs and alcohol again to help you cope. Instead, you’ll need to draw on what you’ve learned in therapy to combat those cravings and stay sober.
Positive emotions can trigger relapse as well. Excitement or joy over a success in your life, coupled with overconfidence that you can handle “just one beer” to celebrate, can lead you to quickly spiral out of control.
Environmental Triggers That Can Lead to Addiction Relapse
In addition to internal emotions triggering addiction relapse, external environments can also tempt you to return to your old ways. Any environment that causes certain memories to resurface could lead you to crave drugs and alcohol again. For example, returning to a location where you once bought or used drugs or alcohol, were arrested, experienced overdose, or committed a crime related to your substance abuse could trigger a desire to use again.
Any number of sights, sounds, and smells could take you back to a time or place where you used drugs or alcohol. This could be a pleasant memory of “good times” had while using certain substances or a difficult memory of arrest, sickness, overdose, or fights with others over your substance abuse.
Some environmental triggers can be anticipated and avoided, such as returning to an old place of employment where you frequently abused drugs or alcohol. Other triggers may pop up unexpectedly—like hearing a song on the radio while driving down the road. That’s why it’s so important to enroll in an evidence-based treatment center in order to acquire the tools you need to respond to those sudden triggers in a healthy way.
Exposure Triggers That Can Lead to Addiction Relapse
Finally, exposure to drugs and alcohol can quickly trigger an addiction relapse. The sight or smell of a substance at a party, concert, family gathering, or any other place could cause strong cravings to immediately arise.
It’s best to avoid exposure as much as possible by staying away from places where you know drugs and alcohol will be present. This may mean keeping a healthy distance from people you know may use drugs or alcohol in front of you. Because alcohol is so prevalent in our culture, it’s also a good idea to have a game plan for what you’ll do if exposure pops up unexpectedly. You may plan to leave the situation immediately or have a sober friend with you to keep you accountable.
Relapse Prevention Therapy and Recovery Coaching in Hawaii
Emotional, environmental, and exposure triggers after addiction rehab are inevitable. The best way to prepare for those triggers and reduce your chances of relapsing is to choose a rehab center that offers relapse prevention therapy and recovery coaching.
Here at Hawaiian Island Recovery, our aftercare services include:
- Consultations with an addictionologist
- Individualized support services
- Individual and group therapy sessions
- Random drug/alcohol monitoring
- Family support
- Life skills education
- Outpatient therapy
- Coaching focused on recovery and preventing relapse
- 12-step meetings and fellowship
- Medication management
- Case management
Graduates of our program may also consider entering a sober living residence upon completion of inpatient therapy for additional support in recovery and relapse prevention.