Remaining in recovery from Substance Use Disorder (SUD) is a lifelong endeavor. As such, each day requires a renewed commitment to maintain your recovery. No matter how resolved in your recovery you are, encountering triggers is unavoidable. A trigger is any social, psychological, and emotional situation or event that compels a person with an addiction to seek their substance of choice, eventually leading them to relapse. Studies have shown that around 40-60% of individuals in recovery experience relapse at some point in their recovery journey. Knowing this, it’s important to understand the signs that indicate you may be more prone to relapsing. We’re going to cover some common signs that occur before relapse for many individuals, and how to recognize them in yourself.
What is Relapse, and Why Does it Matter?
A relapse happens when a person stops maintaining his or her goal of reducing or avoiding use of alcohol or other drugs and returns to previous levels of use. As mentioned previously, relapse can occur at any point in your recovery. Relapse often occurs after an individual in recovery encounters triggers that lead to a craving. Learning to cope when faced with relapse triggers is essential to your success in recovery. Learn more about some common covert triggers and how to spot them in yourself to increase the chances of avoiding relapse.
How to Spot The Signs of a Potential Relapse
Reminders of the Past
One of the most common triggers for relapse is spending time around people or places that played a part in enabling your Substance Use Disorder. Anything from old friends that you previously used with, or places where this occurred can increase the risk of relapse. Knowing this, it may be helpful to avoid these people and places, or at the least, restructure the relationship that you once had with these things. This can take time, so distance from these triggers is completely acceptable as well.
Not Attending Meetings
Recovery meetings are often an important part of a comprehensive recovery plan. Incorporating multiple meetings each week can keep you on track in your recovery, especially if you’re earlier on along your journey. If you notice a decrease in your attendance of meetings, or a loss of interest in attending altogether this can be a red flag. Especially if meetings are consistent in your schedule, not attending can be a clear sign of potential relapse. Sticking to your routines and healthy habits is key to your success in recovery.
Are you finding yourself to be more irritated lately? While this can be the result of many stressors in everyday life, remaining irritable in general could be an indicator that something else is going on. Being more prone to stress can increase your likelihood of relapsing when triggered. It’s important to learn how to cope with our more unsavory emotions – one way to do this is to talk through these emotions with a therapist or Peer Recovery Specialist. Working with someone who understands what you are going through can help relieve some of the stress you are experiencing.
Doubting the Recovery Process
Recovery is a lifelong road we walk. It’s inevitable that you will feel doubtful at one point in your recovery, we all do. If you notice you are constantly doubting yourself and your success in recovery, this may be a more pressing issue. Not having an underlying trust in the recovery process, even when it gets difficult, can mean relapse is more likely to occur. If you’re struggling with your recovery and need to talk to someone, reach out now and we’ll make sure a Peer Recovery Specialist (PRS) starts working with you immediately.
Get to Know Your Triggers
As you continue on your recovery journey, you’ll get to know yourself better each day. Start paying attention to what your routine is, and what works for you. When you start to stray from these day-to-day habits, make changes to get back on track. If you notice any of the above signs, reach out to a friend in recovery, PRS, or healthcare professional for further support.
Need Support Now?
If you are experiencing an emergency, please dial 911. If you are worried about a potential relapse and are looking for support now, start working with a Peer Recovery Specialist (PRS). PRSs can help walk you through the steps you need to take to maintain your recovery, and can advocate for you at any point in your journey.
ADF. “Reducing Risk: Relapse.” Alcohol and Drug Foundation, 2022. https://adf.org.au/reducing-risk/relapse/. Accessed 28 December 2022.
Caron. “Behind the Numbers: What Relapse Rates Really Tell Us.” Caron, 2022. https://www.caron.org/blog/what-relapse-rates-really-tell-us. Accessed 28 December 2022.
North Georgia Recovery Center. “Internal Vs. External Relapse Triggers.” North Georgia Recovery Center, 2022. https://www.northgeorgiarecoverycenter.com/blog/2020/december/internal-vs-external-relapse-triggers/#:~:text=A%20trigger%20is%20social%2C%20psychological,eventually%20leading%20them%20to%20relapse. Accessed 28 December 2022.