Relapse: 5 Tips For Triggers In Addiction
Understanding personal addiction is a very difficult thing to do. Each individual has a different relationship to a particular substance, and each substance poses its own challenges.
Factor in all of the circumstances in a person’s life, and you have a completely unique situation for someone in recovery to deal with. That’s true before, while, and after a person is in recovery.
When it comes to beating addiction, you have to account for the challenges that come after you make the effort to quit. We’re going to talk about relapse in this article, focusing on triggers, relapse scenarios, and relapse prevention.
So, what are triggers in addiction and how can we deal with them effectively?
What Are Triggers in Addiction?
Triggers in addiction are things, sometimes people or places, that cause a person to have the urge to use their substance of choice. You can imagine them like a craving of any kind.
For example, you’re walking down the street and you smell the grill of a restaurant cooking up your favourite dish. Suddenly, you’re very hungry.
You’ve made a commitment to yourself to avoid fast-food restaurants, but the smell is so enticing. Your thought process might not be in your best interest, but there is something about the smell that feels irresistible. You find yourself standing in line to get a burger.
Addiction is a little more complicated than the example above. The throes of substance abuse invade every area of your life. The people you’re around, the place you live, the songs on the radio, or the change of seasons could all elicit a desire to use.
It all depends on the reasons that a person starts to use, where they used, who they used with, and more, depending on the individual. Emotionally charged or stressful situations can have a similar effect as well.
What Causes a Relapse?
Relapse is almost always the result of an addiction trigger. It’s very seldom that a person quits a drug and just happens to start using it for no particular reason.
When a person wants to be clean and proceeds to relapse, there’s a reason that they do so. The trigger could be anything described above. A bad mood, a life change, running into an old friend, or getting fired from a job are all things that make it easier to start using again.
Some triggers are more powerful than others. The heaviest addictive trigger is one that the individual isn’t exposed to very often. It’s easier to work with pressures that occur frequently in a person’s life, but things that aren’t as normal are harder to deal with.
For example, someone might pass their old drug dealer’s house on the way to work every day. That might be triggering at first, but exposure to that pressure will lighten as time goes on.
On the other hand, running into the ex-girlfriend who introduced you to your drug of choice might throw you off the rails. The stress of the situation could set a dark mood, and she might even offer you a hit of something. Those curveballs are the things that test a person’s strength.
What about Will Power?
There is always a choice involved when it comes to facing relapse triggers. At the same time, it’s not as simple as it may seem.
Some choices are much harder and confusing to make than others. The word “trigger” implies that an impulse is set off in response to certain stimuli. People who have physical or sexual trauma might be triggered by something that happens to them and dissociates from the situation they’re in.
People respond in unusual ways to triggers because, for whatever reason, the stimuli they’re experiencing brings up an intense emotional response. Your heart rate increases, your thoughts speed rapidly, and your decision making isn’t as sound as it was.
So, to say that relapsing is a choice would be true. Regardless of the emotional state, the individual is still inside making choices.
That said, the magnitude of the choice might be skewed by a compelling voice in the person’s head. That voice knows that drugs are a short-term solution to difficult emotions. In a moment of panic, that “choice” might seem like the right one.
If it’s so hard to get through those decisions, though, how can a person stay sober? How do you deal with addiction triggers when you can’t always expect them?
Let’s take a look at a few relapse prevention tips.
Practice Relapse Scenarios
The first thing to do is figure out what your main triggers are. You don’t have to experience them to get an idea of what they’ll be.
Think through your relationship to drugs and the people you used them with. What places come to mind? Which people are the ones that stick out?
Is there an emotional response when you think of these people and places? The stronger the emotion, the more likely it is that there’s a trigger wrapped in there somewhere.
Visualize how you’ll respond to those situations when they come up. See yourself refusing drugs or excusing yourself when things get tough. If you can think through these situations before they occur, you’ll be able to get out of them more effectively.
Remember that triggers produce a line of thinking that might not be in your best interest. It’s totally possible for a sober mind to go in the wrong direction and think that using again is the right choice.
So, practising those situations in your head will give you a guidebook to use when you’re experiencing a trigger.
Make Necessary Changes
A big help in preventing big triggers is changing up the way that you live your life. Sobriety is a big life change already, but we’re talking about the sort of people and places that surrounded you while you were using.
This can be one of the hardest parts of getting sober. You might have to put separation between old friends who still use, go to different establishments, and more.
The changes you make have to be specific to your situation. It’s not good to entirely separate from your old life, just to acknowledge the things that could cause issues and make changes accordingly.
- Get Help When You’re Slipping
Even the most seasoned people in recovery have their bad days. That’s why you see people who have maintained 50 years of sobriety showing up to meetings.
Alcohol relapse is something that can occur at any point in sobriety, but those who remain clean are the ones who reach out and talk when they’re feeling like drinking again. The same goes for other addictions as well.
A good friend, professional, or sponsor is the best relapse prevention tool in your arsenal. Other people have relapse prevention tips and might offer new techniques for substance abuse avoidance. That inner voice can pop up at any time, and sometimes the only way to get rid of it is to talk with someone else.
Taking care of your body during recovery is vital
Your mind and your body are forever related, and if one is taken care of, then the other responds beneficially to that. So if you look after your body, your mind often follows with good mental health, more able to cope with stress and less chance of cravings for alcohol or drugs and relapse prevention. This involves eating correctly, getting enough sleep each night, regular exercise, taking medication as prescribed, and proper hygiene. All of these are necessary life skills that will help defeat addiction.
Write down your addiction relapse prevention plan
Have your addiction relapse prevention plan written down. Put it on the refrigerator. Have a copy in your wallet. You do not want to try to remember what to do when cravings are here. Your brain cannot think well when you are having a craving. Just have this list, your personalised addiction relapse prevention plan ready to go, so all you need to do is look at it and know what to do.
What’s a Relapse?
What is a relapse and how do you know what to do when you relapse?
A relapse is an instance when the person intentionally uses a substance again. They can come on slow or hit all at once. A good example is an idea that a person can just “have a drink” since they’ve been sober for a while.
They might achieve their goal and have one drink today, but that habit has a way of spiralling and turning into the deep addiction it once was. A drug rehab relapse or the use of drugs after going to rehab can be very much the same way.
If you experience a relapse, it’s important that you don’t double down and admit defeat. People slip up all of the time and get back on track. In a lot of cases, you need relapse medicine to help you get off and avoid dangerous withdrawals.
Recovery is messy. It’s a personal battle and you’re up against yourself. Getting off track is something that almost every recovering addict can relate to, so there’s a lot of empathy and support out there for you when you need help.
Warning Signs of a Relapse
If you feel like you’re falling off track, it’s important to take note. Signs that you’re falling toward a relapse can be lack of motivation, thoughts of using, changes in personality, and more.
There are a few things that happen before a person slips up, and most of them have to do with changes in behaviour or thinking. When you notice that you’re shifting a little bit, that’s the perfect time to reach out and double down with a trusted friend.
Calling for some guidance is not an annoyance or a sign that you’re weak. It’s a sign of strength to humble yourself and get help.
Having Trouble with Addiction?
So, what are triggers in addiction? They’re the main things that you have to look out for as you go through recovery. It can be difficult, though, and we understand that.
We’re here to help you move forward with recovery in whatever way possible. It just takes a phone call to get help. Contact us to learn more or to hear about our services.