Veronica Holyfield was in the recovery process for almost a year when she made the decision to have one drink with dinner. Four hours later, she was blacked out and on a drinking binge that would last almost three days.
She later describes her story, which includes believing that she could stay sober independently without outside intervention. The depression that had been building during the recovery process finally became unbearable. Thankfully, Veronica got the help she needed and is again on the path to recovery.
There are at least two apparent triggers in Veronica’s story. A trigger is a stimulus that causes a memory or feeling. These memories and feelings are sometimes so strong that they lead to the impulse to use a particular substance again. Between 40 and 60 percent of those in recovery for substance use disorders will relapse.
Triggers that may cause relapse are usually either external or internal. External triggers include people, places, activities, situations, and objects, while internal relapse triggers involve feelings and emotions. It’s critical to understand the triggers for relapse so you can stay sober and healthy.
External Relapse Triggers
Millions of individuals struggle with substance use disorders. These disorders are sometimes difficult to define because they affect each person individually and can reach all aspects of your life. This includes mental, emotional, and physical well-being. There are, however, several factors that can contribute to your likelihood of relapse. The following are five external triggers for relapse.
1. Being Around Individuals Who Drink or Do Drugs
Many people in your life, at least prior to your sobriety, were those who also drank or did drugs. According to the National Library of Medicine, users will relapse more easily in environments they associate with prior use. It’s important to distance yourself from people or places you associate with alcohol or drug use.
2. Uncomfortable or Stressful Situations
You will inevitably face a stressful situation at some point after recovery. Once a problem surfaces in your life, the urge to use drugs or alcohol will almost certainly increase. Finding new techniques for dealing with stress and uncomfortable situations is crucial. Therapy techniques can help you manage these types of problems when they occur. Implementing new stress management methods, like going to the gym or calling a trusted friend, is also important.
3. Social Events Such as Parties or Concerts
Many social events will include alcohol. Does this mean you need to avoid these types of activities? While some events are not always appropriate, avoiding all types of social events is not the answer. Holiday parties and family celebrations are often a source of comfort and stability. In these situations, however, it’s sometimes easy to convince yourself you can have one or two drinks and stop. You’ll want to talk with a counselor about the best approach to handling these types of situations. This might include designating someone to act as your “buddy” to help you steer clear of drugs or alcohol.
4. A New Job or Loss of a Job
Losing or starting a job is a life-changing event for most people. Even positive changes, such as starting a new job, can cause stress or anxiety and become relapse triggers. You may feel nervous about taking on added responsibilities or doing well in a new position. The loss of a job can bring about shame or feelings of failure. This may trigger your addiction and make you more likely to use alcohol or drugs again.
5. Financial Problems
Worrying about how to pay the mortgage, make the next car payment, or maintain the lifestyle your family is accustomed to can cause an incredible amount of stress. As much as possible, you’ll want to create a financial safety net in case of a job loss or unexpected expenses during your recovery process. You will need the help of caring professionals who are trained to help you put together an individualized plan for your life. The team at Olympus Recovery can provide you with the resources you need to avoid your relapse triggers. Contact Olympus Recovery at (866) 305-7134.
Internal Relapse Triggers
Internal triggers for relapse are sometimes more challenging to define. These are usually physical, emotional, or mental factors that a person experiences. The following are several internal relapse triggers that can cause you to use alcohol or drugs again.
1. Overconfident in Sobriety
It feels great when you’re finally sober — and it should; you’ve accomplished a lot. But there is the risk of overconfidence in your sobriety when overcoming alcoholism or any other type of substance use disorder. There is a fine line between healthy confidence and over-confidence. Overconfidence may lead to carelessness and a lack of vigilance.
2. Social Isolation
Limiting your exposure to those who are drinking or using drugs is only the first step. Next, building a new network of friends and social activities is crucial. You’ll want to have a structured and consistent schedule in your life that includes positive interactions with various people. Inadequate emotional and social support is a risk factor for relapse.
3. Negative Feelings
When things aren’t going well, it’s not unusual for negative feelings to creep in. Negative feelings include anger, jealousy, fear, guilt, and loneliness. Each person recovering from substance abuse will have specific emotions that cause them to crave alcohol or drugs. This is one reason why counseling is an important aspect of recovery from any addiction. Understanding your own personal feelings and how they relate to your substance use disorder is an essential aspect of staying sober.
4. Physical or Mental Illness
Any type of physical or mental illness is tricky for those recovering from addictions. This is because medication is often prescribed for both mental and physical ailments. These meds may be similar or the same type of drugs you were previously addicted to. It’s necessary to tell your doctors and other healthcare providers about your recovery so they can take this into consideration when providing you with the best treatment plan possible. It’s also important to realize that the urge to “self-medicate” during any type of physical or mental illness will also increase for those in recovery.
5. Issues With Personal Relationships
Problems in a marriage or breaking up with your significant other will almost certainly provide a trigger for relapse. However, problems with other personal relationships may also trigger the urge to drink or use drugs. This could include relationships with parents, children, or siblings that may be damaged.
Some experts suggest not starting any new romantic relationships for a year after your initial recovery from any type of substance use disorder. There are several basic reasons why this is a good idea for most individuals.
- If a breakup occurs, this can cause emotional stress, which can lead to using drugs or alcohol again.
- Relapse rates are often at their highest within 90 days of recovery. Some studies show relapse rates as high as 65% to 75% within 90 days of treatment.
- There is the potential for a cross-over addiction, such as sex addiction.
- Even healthy new relationships can bring about sudden changes and stress.
How Olympus Recovery Can Help
Finding the right recovery program is crucial to your long-term recovery success, whether you’re struggling with alcoholism or another type of substance use disorder. Identifying your personal triggers and making a proactive plan regarding how you will handle them is essential. It would be best if you worked with a professional team of addiction specialists who can guide you every step of the way.
At Olympus Recovery, your treatment is individualized to meet your specific needs. We treat individuals struggling with substance use disorders and co-occurring disorders. There is also a family program as well as an alumni program that includes follow-up. We have decades of experience and provide our clients with a team of experienced and committed professionals.
While offering the best professional care possible, we provide a tranquil setting with beautiful garden apartments. Your shared living space has a full kitchen and a washer and dryer. You’ll also have access to a pool and clubhouse. We are in-network with the following insurances: Cigna, Tricare, Magellan, Multiplan, New Directions, and Bright Health. Contact Olympus Recovery at (866) 305-7134 today and find out how we can help you on your journey to sobriety.