6 Surprising Relapse Triggers
Most people recovering from addiction are aware of common relapse triggers. However, there are many lesser-known triggers that can put your recovery at risk. Find out what they are and how to prevent a relapse.
Battling an addiction is a daunting and difficult process that only professionals and those who have experienced an addiction can truly understand. Seeking and undergoing treatment for addiction is an accomplishment in itself – but it does not stop there. The road to recovery is a long one, fraught with risk of relapse.
Recovery is not as simple as staying away from substances – it is a process that is often challenged by the world around you. It is a continual commitment to remaining clean.
This is why it is crucial to be prepared for the triggers you will face in your day-to-day life – this includes being aware of triggers you may not have previously thought of.
1. Outdated Recovery Plans
Recovery is a journey, not an event. As your life changes, one recovery plan might not work forever – what worked well for the first three to six months may not be applicable a year later. Treatment programmes should be adapted to meet the ever-changing needs of your life in recovery.
The most important aspect when it comes to ensuring a successful recovery is to stay committed to a recovery programme. There is still a very real risk of relapse even after years of abstinence – seeking professional help to re-evaluate your recovery plan, in addition to consistently attending meetings, is a good idea.
2. Thinking the Hard Part is Over
The road to recovery requires a certain amount of conviction and confidence that life-long sobriety can be achieved. However, believing that the addiction is gone forever can be dangerous, especially since relapses are far from uncommon.
People in recovery who believe their addiction is a thing of the past may stop attending meetings, receiving counselling or even leave treatment prematurely. But research shows that those who stop attending programmes or treatment early are much more likely to relapse than those who stick with it.
Understanding that recovery is a decision that needs to be continuously renewed is essential to your long-term success.
3. Celebrating Life Changes
It may sound strange, but happy life events can put just as much stress on recovery as upsetting events. Getting promoted or having a new child may fill people with excitement and joy, but it also means a major life shift. These special life changes also can come with a sudden increase in responsibilities and an abundance of challenging times ahead. If you feel your sobriety is being challenged by an upheaval in your life, make sure to up your meetings, call your sponsor and seek support from someone you trust.
4. Attempting to Return to a Former Lifestyle
‘Returning to normal’ is a common desire for those in recovery. However, it is very possible that your previous lifestyle may have led to your addiction in the first place. Rather than focusing on returning to your former self, it is better to focus on new goals. Think about why you wanted to get clean in the first place and use this as a framework for creating a healthier new lifestyle.
5. Being a Sponsor
Some people who have more experience in recovery may choose to become a sponsor. While this is a great way to be a part of recovery community and pass on valuable lessons to others in need, it is important to be aware of the risks involved.
You may feel you need to downplay or hide your own struggle in order to be strong for your sponsee. In addition, taking on the responsibility of being a sponsor can cause you to feel overextended. Stress is a huge relapse trigger, and those in recovery need to remember that concentrating on mending their own life is the number one priority.
6. Lack of Sleep
Refraining from using drugs or alcohol or stopping a compulsive behaviour can often cause temporary insomnia. When sleep becomes an issue, your reflexes may tell you to reach for your vice to soothe yourself and get a good night’s sleep, but that means starting from square one. If you are struggling with sleep, there are many ways to combat insomnia naturally, such as avoiding caffeine later in the day, winding down before bed with yoga or meditation or using a natural remedy such as melatonin or valerian root extract.
Relapse Prevention and Aftercare
On the long road to recovery, triggers are inevitable, but relapse is avoidable. Making use of the support networks available to you is the best way to maintain your sobriety long-term. There are many treatment options available in the form of inpatient and outpatient programs, one-on-one counselling and group therapy. Protect yourself against relapse and seek recovery support today.