Relapse Triggers And The Science Behind Them
In order to understand how to prevent a relapse, you first have to understand re-lapse triggers – and how to avoid them. For example, H.A.L.T. is a recovery acro-nym that challenges individuals to stop and assess whether they are tempted to use because they are hungry, angry, lonely, or tired. If you identify the root of the problem, you can remedy the issue instead of reverting to using or drinking.
It also helps to understand the science behind triggers. Addiction is a two-stage formation process. The first stage centers on the pleasure and immediate reward of experiencing a high. The second stage – where triggers come from – is the re-peated overstimulation of reward and pleasure centers in the brain. That is what creates habits and associations with things that make individuals want to use when they see, feel, or experience something specific. The second stage influences a per-son’s decision-making, which further shows that a relapse is not a sign of failure — many people experience relapse.
Here are a few other examples of common relapse triggers:
- Emotions and stressful situations. If drinking or using was a coping method for stress, sadness, or even happiness, it is tempting to fall back into those habits when those emotions reoccur.
- Severed romantic and sexual relationships. The temptation for using or drinking after a breakup can put those in recovery at risk. Additionally, the pressure to ap-pear “normal” to others may add additional strain.
- Overconfidence. For some who have been sober long enough to think, “I could handle it just this once,” the risk for relapse increases.
- Availability. Situations where substances you formerly used are readily available put most at a huge risk for temptation and relapse.
- Stressful Family Dynamics. Certain family situations create triggers, particularly if family members do not support recovery, or if the recovering individual’s home-life is tumultuous.
- Panic Attacks. Anxiety can be a trigger for individuals who suffer from it. Rather than using substances to prevent attacks, using the R.E.L.A.X. method is helpful. This acronym stands for Recognizing worries, Eliminating stress, Letting go of anxiety, Adjusting attitude, and getting eXtra sleep. Some patients additionally require safely prescribed meds.
5 Ways To Avoid Relapse
Life, after rehab, is different. Every individual in recovery has unique triggers. Though there are many ways to avoid relapse, here are five common tactics for success.
Avoid Areas Of Temptation
First, and foremost, when in recovery, it is essential that you stay away from places where using or drinking are either common or encouraged, such as bars, clubs, or friends’ homes (if they use). Some may be tempted to attend these places in order to prove to themselves they can overcome the temptation, but this is unwise. It is best to avoid unnecessary temptation, particularly just after rehab. It is further recommended even after recovery to just skip these places altogether.
Get Rid Of Toxic Friends
If certain friends make you want to fall into old habits, keeping a distance may be necessary. It is possible that, at some point when you are further into recovery, you can reintroduce spending time with them. However, friends who are blatantly unsupportive of your sobriety often warrant permanent removal from your social circle. Ask yourself, “Does this person really care about me if he or she doesn’t want me to be healthy?”
Don’t Skip Therapy
After the intensive segments of treatment have ended, it is easy to think that you can handle life without the routine of a program. However, the latter parts of re-covery may be when you need the support of therapy the most. Even when you are not feeling tempted to drink or use, convening with other people going through the same things is helpful, productive, and encouraging. It is one of the best ways to stay on track, while also allowing yourself an outlet to express bottled-up emotions.
Have The Right Social Interactions
Being social in the right ways is integral to recovery. Isolation is a trigger for many people. On the other hand, going out in old circles often creates temptation. Con-sider reconnecting with friends you know will support your new goals, or consider hanging out with likeminded friends who are also recovering. Additionally, spend time with family – if you have a family that supports you and your mission of so-briety. It is important to live in the moment, focusing on enjoying every experience and interaction, rather than wishing substances were involved.
Take Prescribed Medication
If legally prescribed medication is part of your treatment, stay on track with taking it. Being consistent is key, particularly if you are aiming to control emotional or be-havioral tendencies. Stay in touch with your therapist, as well as your physician(s) about dosage, duration, and how you are feeling on certain medications.
What To Do If You Relapse
If you relapse, remember that you are only human and that recovery is a lifelong process. Talk to someone, dust yourself off, and remember that your life is worth the process of recovery. It is important to address setbacks if or when they hap-pen, but it is never the end of the road.
Treatment Options And Recovery Support
If you are searching for treatment or support during recovery, we have the re-sources you need. Reflections Recovery Center offers a retreat style, male-only ap-proach to treatment and recovery. Our center offers world-class therapy and phy-sicians, but what makes us different is our unique environment. Enjoy a new ad-venture everyday with outdoor activities, like hiking and climbing. In addition to excellent counseling, detox support, and support for families, we offer a life-changing experience of self-discovery and empowerment for staying sober after rehab. Learn more today.