Identifying Substance Abuse Triggers to Prevent Relapse
Becki Meerbeek August 4, 2017 No Comments

It’s often stated that it is impossible to go through recovery without relapsing, but this information is false. In fact, most overdose deaths happen in early recovery as a result of relapse, so preventing relapse is actually extremely important. During addiction treatment, individuals are taught how to utilize coping mechanisms so that substance abuse triggers do not lead to the process of relapse. Understanding substance abuse triggers, especially personalized to yourself, will help you prevent the entire process of relapse so that you can protect your sobriety and continue on the road to recovery.

HALT Substance Abuse Triggers

There are a few phrases commonly utilized throughout the substance abuse recovery community. When it comes to talking about substance abuse triggers that may lead to relapse, HALT is usually a frequently used acronym. Halt, or Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and Tired. These four triggers are generally relapse triggers for anyone in recovery. It’s important for all individuals in active recovery to take care of themselves so that they do not have to deal with these four triggers. If you are ever hungry, angry, lonely, or tired, make sure that you get what you need to fix it before you inevitably begin craving your drug of choice as a result.

Sex, Love and Relationship Substance Abuse Triggers

Sex, love, and relationships are a hot topic amongst individuals in addiction treatment. As a whole, the recovery community doesn’t condone or suggest that individuals in early recovery enter into romantic or sexual relationships. If you’re in recovery from drug or alcohol addiction, you have to work on redeveloping trust in already broken relationships with family and friends. You literally have to relearn how to be a good friend to another person. If you haven’t learned or practiced how to build trust and utilize proper boundaries, how are you going to have an effective and long-lasting romantic relationship?

Also, sex and romance come with lots of commitment and also heightened emotions; which are both risky for individuals in early recovery. You need to be focused on your recovery and managing your own emotions, not tied up with going out on dates, impressing someone, and worrying about another person’s view of yourself. It’s generally said that individuals in recovery can begin dating again after one year of sobriety. By then, dealing with emotional and time commitment triggers should be well practiced enough to be managed so that effective and healthy romantic relationships may be established without the heightened risk of relapse.

Big Life Changes as a Substance Abuse Triggers

Sometimes, going through a big life change, good or bad, can become a relapse trigger. For example, if you get a new job and have to move locations, it could become a trigger. The emotional stress and leaving co-workers and the comfort of the past behind can make you experience negative emotions; even though getting a new job is actually a good thing. You have to remember to take care of yourself when your life takes new twists or turns so that you’re on top of your recovery. Talk to your counselor and attend meetings before, while, and after a big life change. Other life changes to be aware of because they may become relapse triggers may include moving, getting married, having a baby, getting a promotion, changing schools, and graduating school.

Negative Emotions as Substance Abuse Triggers

Obviously, negative emotions can be a trigger to use alcohol or drugs after treatment concludes. Anger, resentment, fear, doubt, sadness, and anxiety can all trigger to use. Most addictions are developed because alcohol or drugs have been previously used as a way to self-medicate these emotions. So, just because an individual has been through treatment, it doesn’t mean they may not experience cravings as a result of these emotions post treatment. It’s imperative to recognize these emotions as they appear so they can be dealt with as soon as possible. When you find yourself experiencing these emotions, utilize your resources like peer support, meetings, and aftercare services.

Learning more about Substance Abuse Triggers in Addiction Treatment

If you haven’t attended addiction treatment for your dependence on drugs or alcohol, it’s unlikely that you will know how to effectively identify and deal with substance abuse triggers. During treatment, you will be trained and motivated to learn what to do when you experience triggers in recovery so that you have the best chances for preventing relapse and remaining sober. Ready for a life without addiction? Give the Willow Place for Women a call today to speak with an addiction specialist at 828-707-6084.

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