Relapse Triggers That Can Ruin Your Recovery

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People who are suffering from addiction to drugs and people who are struggling with alcohol use rarely fit into a conventional box when it comes to the recovery process.

For some, it may only take years before they gain the strength and discipline to go ‘cold turkey’ for the rest of their lives, never again returning to the source of their addiction.

For others, recovery is a lifelong process that requires dedication, commitment, and a willingness to understand that relapsing is a real possibility.

That brings us to the issue of relapse triggers that can disrupt the recovery process of an individual struggling with addiction

Let’s take a look at some of the most common types of relapse triggers, and how people struggling with addiction can avoid these traps and continue walking the road to recovery.


Everyone understands that stress can take many forms, but it always brings worry and doubt with it, and the mental aspects of stress are what makes it such a dangerous relapse trigger.

The reasons are that the addiction recovery process is a delicate one that is built on establishing new ways of reacting and behaving that do not include drinking alcohol or using drugs.

Stress is the definition of a significant disruptor because it forces those struggling with addiction to deal with another set of challenges, whether those challenges are physical, psychological or emotional.

A recent study found that addicts who were exposed to stress such as the death of a loved one, emotional abuse, and unfaithfulness of a romantic partner were more likely to relapse, because of the increased number of personal challenges. (1)

For some, stress drives them back to the comfort zone of using drugs as an escape from their daily reality.

Often, the greater the amount of stress, the more that addicts seek that escape and addicts are especially vulnerable during the recovery process.

Exposure To Friends And Locations Associated With Addiction

Another relapse trigger occurs when people in a recovery run into friends or associates with whom they used to use drugs.

And because these people are still involved in drugs, it becomes a powerful trigger to the recovering individual.

The reason is that when in recovery, the memories of using drugs are often more pleasant than the reality of what it was really like.

In other words, those in recovery often look on their past behavior with drug-using friends as a time when they felt safe and comfortable, even though that is an illusion.

So when they run into old friends or revisit locations where they used to use drugs and drink alcohol, they relive a past time that brings back powerful memories.

And the more pressure that their old friends exert on them to use one last time, the more likely it is that they will give in and relapse.

Overconfidence That Recovery Is Complete

It’s not unusual to see someone build up several months of sobriety and begin telling friends and family members that they have discovered the ‘secret’ of staying clean, and that they will never go back to their old life.

While confidence in the recovery is important, overconfidence can be dangerous, because when addicts feel as if they have all the answers and make bold pronouncements that they will never use drugs again or take another drink, it can set them up for a relapse.

Recovery may not always be a lifelong process for some, but when they are in early recovery they must measure their progress in hours, days, then weeks.

While the phrase ‘one day at a time’ may be a cliché when it comes to recovery, it is the only way for addicts to guard against the overconfidence of believing that they have conquered their addiction. (2)

Steps You Can Take To Prevent Relapse

Relapse triggers can be powerful, but if you are aware of these triggers, they can take steps to avoid these negative attractors. These steps include:

  • Avoid Friends Who Use Drugs
  • Avoid the Places Where You Used To Use Drugs Or Drink Alcohol
  • Remain Active In Outpatient Counseling
  • Join a Support Group
  • Follow a Healthy Lifestyle That Can Help Lower Stress

Why Treatment Is So Important

The myth of the ‘functional’ substance user is just that, a myth. Because addiction eventually destroys all the carefully built facades that people put up to convince themselves and their friends, family members and colleagues that they are doing fine. The only real way for addicts to live a life that is balanced and honest is to get treatment at a professional facility that can design a recovery program suited to their unique needs.

If you live in New Jersey and are seeking this type of rehab treatment, call the behavioral counselors of Serenity at Summit Detox New Jersey to learn about all your options.






Staff Writer

Serenity at Summit employs a diverse staff of writers that share a common passion for helping those who are struggling with substance abuse find the care they need. With years of experience in the substance abuse treatment industry and decades of experience in writing and research, our team of writers constantly strive to present accurate and helpful information that is easily digestible and encourages people to seek help.