For many recovering users, long-term sobriety is hard to achieve. And while some may argue that relapse is inevitable, it is more than possible to avoid it if you know what to do. As long as you can recognize your cues or triggers, you can come up with a relapse prevention plan to hold yourself accountable and keep yourself sober. To help you get started, here are a few common relapse triggers and how you can resolve them:
1. Stress and Hardship
Recovering from drug and alcohol addiction is a difficult process because you not only have to heal internally, but you also need to deal with the fallout in your life. That said, it can be stressful to try and get sober when you’re dealing with unemployment, family conflicts, and failing relationships.
While you need to face these challenges and resolve them, you don’t have to do it by yourself. Having the right support can make all the difference, so reach out to your loved ones or search for rehab centers that can help you stay on the right track.
2. Positive Life Changes
While many see personal and professional achievements as positive life events, they can actually become a trigger for some recovering users. Indeed, the euphoria can cause you to gain a false feeling of invincibility or over-confidence. Hence, you may feel like it’s justified to commemorate your success with some drugs or alcohol. However, this can quickly get out of hand and cause you to relapse, derailing your recovery journey.
If you’re planning to celebrate an achievement by throwing a party, look for ways to hold the event without drugs or alcohol. Make sure to inform your attendees of this in advance as well. That way, you can prevent these important milestones in your life from becoming triggers.
3. Reminiscing About Your Previous Life
It’s normal for people to look back at their past through rose-tinted glasses. And while there’s nothing wrong with looking for silver linings from your troubled past, it can become dangerous if you begin glamorizing your addiction and substance abuse. Think of it this way: when you start reminiscing about something, you start to miss it. Before you know, you’ll start slipping back into your old habits out of nostalgia.
The moment you notice yourself yearning for the past, tell a loved one or your addiction counselor right away. They can help ground you back in the present, reminding you why you chose to recover and get clean. Remember: you’re doing better now, and you’ll continue to do so by not going back to your old lifestyle.
4. Using Other Substances
Some recovered drug addicts turn to food or alcohol as a way to cope with their triggers. While there is nothing inherently wrong with this, it can get out of hand if you aren’t careful. Before you know it, food and alcohol can turn into a relapse trigger, causing you to swap one kind of addiction for another. This is one of the reasons why a lot of former drug addicts end up becoming alcoholics.
If you think you’re susceptible to this kind of behavior, make sure to bring this up to your counselor, therapist, or doctor. That way, they can help you come up with coping strategies to prevent you from developing a new kind of addiction.
5. Social Isolation
Paranoia and social anxiety are common feelings to have during the recovery phase. In some cases, you may find yourself withdrawing from everything and becoming a recluse. The problem is that the growing loneliness can be triggering, since you may end up drinking or doing drugs to numb the pain of isolation.
Always remind yourself that you don’t have to go through the journey on your own. There’s nothing wrong with talking to people about your recovery or struggle with substance abuse. Do your best to reach out for help, even if it means starting with your counselor or sponsor. Instead of hiding from the world in fear, do your best to form a strong social network that encourages sobriety.
6. People and Relationships
Unfortunately, our loved ones can sometimes end up becoming our triggers, especially if they also struggle with a dependence on drugs or alcohol. It can also be difficult to heal if these people aren’t supportive of your recovery journey, or if they take out their frustrations on you.
If you find yourself in this kind of situation, you may have to limit contact with them or completely cut them out of your life. Instead, surround yourself with people who support and uplift you. Anyone who is bringing you down about your recovery does not have your best interests at heart. Hence, you shouldn’t feel obligated to give them any of your precious time or energy.
To effectively handle triggers and avoid relapses, it’s important to set boundaries for yourself. The goal is to put as much distance between yourself and your old lifestyle as possible, even if you have to do it gradually.
Just remember that you don’t have to go through the healing process on your own. Thus, don’t be afraid to seek help whenever necessary. Recovery is difficult, but it is not impossible when you have the right support system and coping strategies in place.
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