Those in early recovery are especially vulnerable to a relapse. Studies reveal that between 50 to 90% of addicts in their first four years of recovery will relapse at least one time. Others will be likely to relapse more than one time.
The triggers for a relapse can come from a variety of sources, some of which will surprise you. Even though relapse is quite common and having one doesn't necessarily mean your recovery has failed, it's important to be aware of the most common relapse triggers and what to do if faced with one. Here are seven trigger situations that anyone in recovery should know about:
1. Being around people or places with drugs. Returning to old hangouts or being around friends that you associate with past drug use is one of the biggest trigger situations. Going back to places where you used to drink will likely arouse old emotions associated with your addiction.
Hanging out with old friends who don't understand or support your recovery will be difficult as well. They may encourage you to drink or use drugs because they don't take your recovery seriously. Old friends will use pressure, teasing, or even manipulation to get you back to your old habits. It's important to be careful about who you surround yourself with in these early stages. Connecting with others in recovery is great for creating a supportive network. Be sure to spend time with only the family members and old friends who are supportive of your journey.
2.Isolating yourself. This is another common trigger, especially in the first year of sobriety. It's true that you may have to distance yourself from or even cut off some old relationships in order to focus on recovery, but you also need to seek out new connections in order to have the support you need.
This means going to therapy groups, attending 12 step meetings, volunteering, or even organizing social outings with others who are sober. Having a network of support to call on when you find yourself struggling means you'll know exactly where to turn in those moments when you feel sad, lonely, or hopeless.
3.Not managing stress levels. There's no way to avoid stress in our lives. The only thing we can do is to learn how to deal with stress in healthy ways. This is even more important for someone in recovery because high stress levels can often trigger a relapse.
Finding a healthy expression for stress, like writing, exercising, meditation, spending time in nature, or talking with a friend, will keep you from feeling overwhelmed by life's pressures. Learn how to recognize when you feel stressed and practice a healthy way to deal with it.
4.Becoming too confident. People who do well in recovery run the risk of becoming overconfident and straying from their original purpose. It's true that recovery is about building self worth and optimism, but you must also practice acts of humility.
Reminding yourself that you are powerless over your addiction is important in guarding against an overconfidence that can actually trigger a relapse. Stay on track with your recovery by going to meetings, therapy, and just checking in with yourself.
5.Neglecting your physical or mental health. Both of these are important for staying healthy and well balanced. Any mental health issues you have should be addressed. Many of those with addiction have depression, anxiety, or other issues that will need their own treatment. Keep your body healthy by practicing regular exercise, sleeping well, and eating a balanced diet.
6.Getting nostalgic about drug use. It can seem fun and harmless to tell friends war stories involving past drug use, but doing this can actually harm your sobriety. When you tell these stories, you relive the experience and the emotions associated with them.
7.Boredom. The early stages of recovery can include feelings of boredom and restlessness. When the high of drug use or drinking is gone, it can be hard to find other activities that stimulate you. It's a good idea to stay active when you find yourself feeling bored and anxious.
Many people in recovery play sports, take up new hobbies, join groups, or otherwise open themselves up to new, exciting experiences. This keeps life fresh and gives you something to look forward to every day.