7 Common Relapse Triggers and How to Avoid Them

Relapse triggers can be tricky to deal with, especially if you are just beginning your sober journey and don’t have a solid plan in place to avoid them.

In this article, you’ll learn all about the 7 common triggers, and what you should be aware of in order to escape them.

7 Common Relapse Triggers and How to Avoid Them | Transitions

Relapse happens to millions of people in addiction recovery. It is expected. After all, addiction is a brain disorder. If you were to view brain scans of those with addiction and those without, you would see noticeable differences. You would see the malfunctioning of brain chemicals in those who relapse on drugs or alcohol.

Like with other life-threatening disorders, like diabetes, it can take years to restore the addicted body to good health. Like these other significant disorders, some triggers make it challenging to maintain recovery.

For example, someone with diabetes may find it hard to avoid carbohydrates and sugar and eventual weight gain. They relapse on the things the brain craves even though they know it could lead to higher A1C blood sugar levels, which can lead to a return of poor health.

Those in addiction recovery understand this cycle all too well. For them, there are common relapse triggers that make it more difficult to stay sober. However, there are ways to avoid these triggers. They may not seem as simple as telling a person with diabetes to avoid buying sugary products, but they are doable.

Below are seven common relapse triggers and advice on how to avoid them to maintain sobriety.

1. Lack of Confidence

Drugs and alcohol take control of an addict’s mind and life. They become something too big and powerful to fight. They strip you of confidence. Eventually, an addict gives up and gives in to constant obsessions of relapse.

Addicts need the confidence to fight the call of a relapse. Confidence comes from practice. Sober living homes are the perfect place to practice living a sober lifestyle for a long time. Take the help offered in sober homes that will build your confidence and help you avoid relapse.

2. Celebrations

There is always a holiday, birthday, or another type of celebration among your friends and family. Many of these events involve drugs or alcohol, making them a considerable relapse trigger for those in recovery.

To avoid this trigger, you have options: don’t go to the event makes the most sense, but I get it if you feel obligated. If you decide you must go, take a sober friend with you and commit to leaving after an hour or so. Or, create your own type of sober celebration that people can attend before they go to the other party. Those who love you will appreciate you taking steps to avoid relapse.

3. Accidentally Bumping Into It

Addictive substances can be like old relationships with one-time loves. For a time, you were inseparable. You loved it more than anything else in the world. It was an unhealthy love, and you finally broke up—you’re doing great, especially since you don’t have to be around it anymore.

Then one day, while visiting a friend, you bump into it by accident. Your heart starts racing, you feel anxious, and for a moment, you want to rekindle the relationship.

To recover from addiction, you must think before you act. Ask your friends questions about whether drugs will be present or not. You must do everything you can to avoid your drug of choice, accidentally and on purpose.

4. When the Sober High Ends

When you enter detox and rehab, your body is cleaned from all the toxins you have been feeding it for years. You are clear-headed, focused, and excited to be sober. Some call this period the “rehab high” or “sober high.” It would be great if this high lasted forever, but it doesn’t.

Once you leave rehab, the high begins to subside, and all the natural triggers start making it hard for you to stay sober. The best thing you can do is transition out of the rehab high in a safe environment, like a sober home.

5. Overwhelming Emotions

Knowing how to cope with your emotions is a must when avoiding relapse. Anger, frustration, joy, love, surprise, and all the hundreds of other emotions are called internal triggers. They can feel overwhelming if you do not know how to cope with them appropriately.

Work with a counselor or educator through virtual sessions to learn more about emotions and prevent them from becoming a trigger.

6. Your Old Environment

If you want to stay sober, you cannot return to your old environment, the one where you spent all your time using drugs. Every piece of furniture, every nook and cranny, and sometimes every person in your old environment has a substance using memory attached to it. Your brain holds on to these memories.

Trying to be sober in an old addictive environment is too hard. It would help if you created a new, sober environment with nothing but sober memories attached to it. You can learn a lot about sober environments through sober living homes.

7. Boredom

Boredom is your enemy when trying to stay sober. It is a big trigger because it gives your mind the time it needs to sneak in obsessive thoughts of getting high. Like, when those beer commercials come on TV during the game. Or when the actors in the movie you are watching use drugs, have sex or participate in other activities that remind you of your addiction.

There are many things you can do to avoid the boredom trigger. Get a job. Get any job. Your goal right now is to stay sober, not reach the pinnacle of your career. Nothing is more important than your sobriety. Having said that, don’t get a job that could turn into a trigger, like a bar.

You can also learn a new hobby, run errands for people in need, visit sober friends and family, or attend meetings several times a day if needed.


Finally, you can’t learn how to avoid triggers unless you know what your triggers are. Take the time to assess your triggers and develop a plan with a counselor or peers in a sober home. You can do this. You can stay sober and start living the extraordinary life you deserve.

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