Relapse Triggers

Some of the most common addiction recovery relapse triggers are negative emotions, seeing a reminder of using, celebration activities, and overconfidence. Because addiction is a chronic disease, remaining aware of the triggers and taking steps to avoid those triggers can make it easier to maintain your recovery. 

Triggers form because substance use trains your brain to pay close attention to all things connected to alcohol. It does this by releasing a chemical called dopamine. Because alcohol creates a powerful and rewarding impact, the brain always looks for opportunities to get another drink. This situation can occur even if you are in recovery, and drinking will result inevitably result in adverse outcomes.

Addiction Recovery

What is a Relapse in Addiction Recovery?

Relapse in addiction recovery is when someone who has been well from addiction reverts to using the substance from the previous addiction. 

Relapse can occur regardless of the amount of time in recovery. It is often caused when a person in short or long-term recovery is exposed to triggers that cause their previous addictive behaviors to return. Establishing an effective relapse prevention plan can help tremendously. 

Why do People Relapse?

Negative emotions and periods of high stress could all cause the desire to use alcohol as a form of self-medication. Alcohol causes pleasurable sensations that reduce the intensity of these negative emotions.

The Top 5 Relapse Triggers

Knowing the common triggers and how to stay ahead of them can help you avoid these triggers that commonly cause a bump in the road to recovery. 

HALT-Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired

HALT is an acronym for hungry, angry, lonely, and tired, which are common internal triggers that increase your risk of relapse. For many, feeling any of these things can reignite the craving for the drug. 

Avoiding placing yourself in situations to feel these things will lessen the chance of relapse. Instead, it’s best to maintain a consistent schedule with plenty of time for eating and getting a good amount of rest. 

People, Places, and Things from the Using Days

Being around the people, places, and things you were around during your addiction will almost always spark memories that ignite intense cravings. These things have a way of making the old days seem better. 

In addition, there is a good chance that if the substance was present in these areas back then, they’re still there now. So placing yourself in a situation to be offered the substance is the most challenging trigger to resist. 

Physical or Mental Illness

If you suffer from a mental health condition, it’s essential to keep your symptoms under control. Allowing your mental health symptoms to worsen can trigger the craving by giving a false idea that the substance will make you feel better. 

In addition, if you don’t stick to your mental health treatment plan, you can place yourself in situations where you may be prescribed other substances that could remind you of the feelings of the substance you were addicted to. Many prescription drugs for treating mental illness can also lead to a new addiction. 

Times of Celebration

Times of celebration trigger relapse because it’s easy to adopt the idea that you can use the substance just once to enjoy a celebratory moment with friends and family. This trigger is prevalent for recovering alcoholics. 

Overconfidence in Recovery

Regardless of how much time has passed since your recovery, you should never underestimate your ability to relapse. Unfortunately, many people think that after they’ve been sober for so long, they handle any trigger or occasionally use recreationally without relapsing. 

These ideas increase the relapse rate for those in recovery because as time goes by and the craving subsides, you may not realize how quickly specific triggers can spark the desires all over again. This is why you are so strongly encouraged to stick to your recovery plan.

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Give us a call today. Our admissions coordinators will answer any questions you may have about our program and walk you through the admissions process.

Drug Relapse Warning Signs

There are many warning signs that relapse is near. Recognizing these and getting help before a physical relapse can occur is the best way to protect your sobriety. 


Emotional relapse triggers include:

Mental Relapse Triggers

Mental relapse warning signs include:

What to Do After a Relapse?

If you are someone you love to experience an addiction relapse, it’s best to get help as soon as possible. When left untreated, you are more likely to fall back into the same destructive patterns you worked so hard to beat. 

Agape features a resort-style treatment facility that provides safe and effective drug addiction treatment without the feeling of being in a rehab facility. We can help you manage your withdrawal symptoms and get back on the road to recovery.

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