One of the things people often don’t realize about the nature of relapse is that it happens in a number of stages. You may go months without even thinking about using drugs or alcohol and then suddenly find yourself with a bottle of beer in your hand wondering how you got there. Understanding relapse triggers are essential to the longevity of one’s sobriety.
What Exactly Is a Trigger?
A relapse trigger refers to any stimulus that causes an emotional, psychological, or physical urge to use or fall back to a former pattern of behaviors. In many cases, triggers will occur days or even weeks before a person decides to pick up the bottle.
You can think about triggers like planted seeds, waiting for the opportune time to sprout. Not acting out immediately from a trigger can lead to false feelings of confidence or control, which over time can provoke a person to become relaxed with their recovery plan.
Four Categories of Relapse Triggers
Regardless of the substance, relapse triggers tend to fall under the following 4 categories:
Avoiding social situations can be difficult, especially during the period of early recovery when it’s likely that you don’t yet have a strong sober support system. Without a strong network, living a sober life can feel lonely. As such, being invited to a party or a social gathering can feel nearly impossible to turn down.
However, while you may be able to abstain from using, taking the risk is not worth your progress. If the event is important, ask a sober friend to go with you or create a backup plan. Who are you going to call if temptation overwhelms you?
Reminiscing on the Past
Getting caught in glorifying the old days is a dangerous road. If you find yourself marinating in memories of substance use, it might be useful to grab a piece of paper and write down the negative moments. Remember those moments of pain and deep shame. This will allow a more balanced perspective to evolve. No, those were not better days. Being tethered to a substance is not living—it’s slow suicide.
Old Friends and Old Places
After a length of time has passed since your last use, it can be easy to think you can just stop by and see how an old friend is doing. Though, you may think you know your intentions, going to see old friends poses incredible risk to your sobriety. Try to be brutally honest with yourself. Why are you really wanting to go see the old friend? Is it necessary? Is it worth the risk?
New to sobriety, emotions tend to feel extreme. For example, you’re not just mad, you’re furious. Even small moments of joy can tip you over the edge. Something important to remember is that these overwhelming emotions will level out eventually.
If You Do Relapse
It’s important to note that experiencing a relapse does not mean treatment didn’t work. Relapse is part of the disease. Forgive yourself and get back on track. One relapse need not be a return to the old. Embrace the lessons in which the relapse provided and allow that to help guide you forward and evolve your future decisions. This is not a time to give up on yourself, it’s a time to return to yourself and recommit yourself to your recovery plan.
In the case that a relapse funnels you back to full-blown addiction, finding addiction treatment can offer the best service toward getting you back on track.
While not always the case, mental illness and chemical dependency often run in tandem. Regardless of which came first, diagnosing and treating all underlying conditions has been observed as one of the best routes toward long-term recovery.
Finding a treatment center capable of dual diagnosis treatment can offer many advantages in ensuring that you or a family member receives the best chance at a total recovery. Adequate treatment goes beyond just quitting a substance. If the root of the problem is left behind, the chance of relapse increases.
In addition to offering dual diagnosis treatment, First Step Center of sunny Arizona also specializes in dual diagnosis treatment and trauma informed care. With a small clientele base, First Step Center’s all-male residential treatment facility can create custom treatment plans for each client in order to meet individual needs.
First Step Center also offers:
No one needs to live a life strained under the weight of co-occurring illnesses and relapse triggers. Don’t wait any longer to get the help you need. First Step Center dedicates themselves to your total recovery and ready to help you learn the skills you need to take back your life and start living again. To find out more about relapse triggers or addiction treatment, call us now at 866.832.6398.