Dealing with Triggers: How to Avoid Relapse

Addicts often experience at least one relapse throughout their journey to recovery. Some people need multiple attempts at sobriety before they are finally successful.
The initial stages towards prevention include awareness of potential relapse triggers and the development of strategies to deal with them. Listed below are five potential flashpoints to discuss with your therapist or counsellor.
The first stages towards preventing a relapse are recognising what may serve as a trigger and developing a strategy for dealing with it. Here, we explore five common triggers and provide some useful coping strategies. South Africa is home to a burgeoning population of recovering addicts, counsellors, and specialists, making it an excellent setting for alcohol rehabilitation centresGet in touch with us for more information on our long term rehab centre.


Relapse is most commonly brought on by stress. Many addicts use their drug of choice or other destructive behaviour to cope with the stress of their lives.
In fact, studies show that cravings for drugs, alcohol, or addictive activities is highest during stressful times, especially if these were previously relied upon as a means of alleviating stress.
You can lessen the impact of this trigger by taking stock of your current level of stress. You can’t get rid of every stressful scenario in your life, but you can eliminate some of the causes. Making a list of all the people, places, and things in your life that are a source of stress may assist.
It is possible to lessen the frequency of stressful events by adjusting one’s way of life, interpersonal connections, and priorities. By doing so, you lessen the chances that stress will lead to a relapse.

Dealing with Triggers: How to Avoid Relapse
Dealing with Triggers: How to Avoid Relapse
Dealing with Triggers: How to Avoid Relapse

Triggering environments or people

Whether or not they are currently drinking, smoking, or taking drugs, the people who engaged in your addictive behaviour in the past are possible triggers for a relapse. The same is true for specific locations that bring up unpleasant memories associated with your addiction. Even close relatives might be a source of stress if they make you feel insecure or like a child again. It’s crucial to have healthy coping mechanisms in place for times when you’re reminded of your addiction. If you struggle with alcohol addiction and a group of your drinking friends or co-workers invite you out, it can be helpful to have an answer prepared.

Going for a run, watching a movie, having dinner with a sponsor, or reading a good book are all healthful alternatives to these triggering activities.
You put yourself at risk for relapse if you don’t make plans to deal with these events in advance. If you need help coming up with a strategy, talk to a therapist or counsellor about it.

Difficult emotions

Those struggling with Substance Use Disorder need strategies for coping with and making meaning of the unpleasant emotions they experience on a regular basis. You used to be able to temporarily escape those feelings with alcohol, drugs, or addictive behaviours, but now you can’t.
Try to train yourself to accept and even welcome negative emotions.
Think of your feelings as a chance to learn more about yourself and the world. Taking stock of your emotions and pondering their origins can teach you a lot about yourself. In fact, it’s priceless to learn how to deal with your feelings without turning to drugs or alcohol.
When you’re feeling down, consider writing in a journal, meditating, or even praying. Do something constructive to relieve stress and improve your disposition. Additional coping mechanisms can be taught to you by a professional in the field of addictions or mental health.

Dealing with Triggers: How to Avoid Relapse
Dealing with Triggers: How to Avoid Relapse

Encountering the addictive substance

During sobriety, you need to avoid situations that could lead you back to using. In the early stages of recovery, triggers are everywhere: a smell of cigarette smoke, seeing people sipping cocktails in a pub or restaurant, or seeing a couple locked in an amorous embrace. It’s natural to feel tempted to return to your old habits. After all, it is a comfortable environment for you. However, recovery is about more than just stopping and abstaining; it’s also about creating a new life in which abstinence is not only possible, but also preferable. Keep in mind the positive adjustments you’re making and the new life you’re creating for yourself.

Consider the people you wounded and the connections you shattered while you were engaging in your addiction.
These encounters with the substances of your past life may make you feel nostalgic, but remember that everything about it was a struggle.

Celebrations or parties

Triggers can also be happy events like birthdays and vacations. You might be feeling good, in charge, and certain that you can handle just one smoke, one drink, or a little light flirtation with the gorgeous stranger. Is it possible for you to maintain control?
Those struggling with substance use disorder often lose the ability to self-regulate, which can lead to dangerous relapses. Having that one drink could easily lead to binge drinking, for example.
Having someone to talk to while you’re feeling vulnerable to relapse might be really helpful. If you start to relapse, find someone you trust and respect who can gently but forcefully convince you to stop.

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