Drug Addiction and Triggers of Relapse

Drug Addiction and Triggers of Relapse Cover Image

Michael Washington

Addiction is a condition that can be treated. However, the advancement of evidence-based approaches can help addicts avoid using drugs and regain productive lives. Many recovering drug abusers can find themselves engulfed by their addiction once more even after rehab and treatment. Relapse is a term used to describe this situation and considered to be when the user fall or slip back into the addictive state.  The primary causes for a relapse are people, places, or things connected to the addictive behavior.  These are what is known as triggers of relapse.  They may include stress, anxiety/depression, overconfidence in sobriety, or celebrating positive events. It is not uncommon for a person struggling with an addiction to relapse during recovery. Therefore, it is important for victims and their support systems to understand what causes a drug abuser to relapse before taking steps toward some form of prevention.  There are several common triggers of relapse but also ways to counteract and avoid them.  

Triggers of Relapse and How to Avoid Them  

One of the most common cause of relapse is stress. Many people who struggle with addiction use their drug of choice or continue their behavior as a way to cope. Research shows that during stressful situations, people have an increased desire for the drug, alcohol, or addictive behavior. 

Considering and evaluating the stress you’re experiencing is one way to counteract this trigger. People you know and meet can cause you stress. For instance, arguing with someone over an event or incident can cause you stress. You can’t control all situations and events or remove everyone from your life but you do have the power or control to circumvent potential problems with those whom you encounter especially the toxic relationships. As a measure, keeping in mind those individuals, locations, and stuff that stress you out can be very beneficial. If you are able to reduce the number of stressful circumstances in your life by making slight adjustments to your lifestyle, relationships, and possibly goals, you’ll be less likely to experience a relapse caused by stress. 

Being around people who engaged in your addictive activity such as drinking, smoking, or using narcotics are also possible triggers of relapse. Let’s say for instance, If alcohol’s your weakness and a friend or co-worker invites you out for a drink, you should pass and have an answer why you are not willing to join them. Of course, a true friend would understand your response regardless of your answer.  

Similarly, locations that remind you of your addiction may trigger a relapse. Strangely, celebrating positive events, such as birthdays, parties, or holidays may cause a relapse in judgement depending on the circumstances. Being over confident in your sobriety may cause you to believe this one time want hurt anything but you may be setting yourself up for relapse. Recovering addicts must not lose the ability to restrain themselves, and therefore, avoid circumstances where they are at a high risk of relapsing.      

Learning to identify your triggers, seeking counsel, and forming a support network are all effective ways to avoid relapse. However, if you do relapse, don’t punish yourself. Relapse isn’t an indication that your recovery isn’t working. You must realize, you’re on an unfamiliar road and do your best to navigate your recovery with as much help as you can get.