Addiction Relapse: Prevention and Triggers

Here at Cedars, your full recovery is our sole purpose. While the road to sobriety begins with the personal decision to make a change, it is not guaranteed that all recovering substance users will have the same experience. While some remain sober after treatment, others relapse. For this reason it is important to acknowledge strategies that promote a healthy mental, physical, and emotional state.
A fulfilling life after rehabilitation is driven by positive thinking. In the typical recovery cycle it is normal for individuals to experience feelings of doubt and negativity- it is not an easy journey. Removing the substance is one thing, but changing behavioural habits is the difficult step in recovery. Change will occur once an individual is ready, willing, and open to learn about improving their life.
It is important to remember that recovery is an individual process. Our chemical, mental, and physical differences mean that we all have different coping tactics that vary in time and intensity for each person and each situation. It can be difficult and confusing to navigate all the options, so below are some personal methods that you can practice to minimize relapse and practice self-care:
Tips to Prevent Relapse
1. Foster a strong support system. In your recovery process, it is important to be in an environment that is accepting and supportive of your recovery. Whether it is a colleague, family member, friend, or counselor, having someone to talk to allows you to share your journey and reflect on your progress.
2. Continue to take personal inventory: examine not only your goals but how you are doing in reaching them! Set goals that are specific and you will be able to keep track of how well you are doing in achieving them. If your goals seem to large to achieve, then break them into smaller steps, and keep doing that until you have manageable goals. Make these something that you can achieve in the short term and build to longer term dreams. This technique will allow you to move forward and create a future that is free of substance use.
3. Post-rehabilitation care. The best steps to recovery following facilitated treatments are to attend supportive groups. Some examples of Twelve Step support groups are Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), and Eating Disorders Anonymous (EDA). You will find these groups to be very welcoming to newcomers and filled with people who share your experiences.
What can trigger a relapse?
An addiction relapse may be very sudden and can occur at any stage in the recovery process. Although identifying the exact cause can be difficult, it is important to acknowledge the common warning signs. Here are some triggers to look out for throughout the recovery process:
1. Social Media and Television. These days the internet plays a huge part in our daily lives. While social media has many perks, it can also have negative impacts. At early stages in the recovery process, it is a good idea to stay away from social media and cable television because of its unpredictability of content. More often than not, they present topics that are sensitive and inappropriate to some audiences. For this reason, those who have suffered from a Substance Use Disorder may see or hear something that will trigger a relapse.
2. Relationships. “You must love yourself before you love others.” This is especially important during recovery. It is important to form emotional independence and give proper attention to self-care. Dealing with heartbreak during recovery stages can cause negative stress which could lead to relapse.
3. Celebrations. Whether it is a birthday, graduation, or new job, people will have reason to celebrate. In North America we commonly celebrate success by consuming alcohol, however; there are other alternatives. To avoid temptation, consume non-alcoholic beverages and consider your surroundings.
When relapse occurs, falling into old habits is an immediate response and may happen during any stage of recovery. Throughout the treatment process, trust yourself and practice self-care- this will help you to achieve your goals and create the life you want to live.