Rehab is a “scary” place for addicts and their families. People going in and out of rehab do not want to be there in the first place. This is at least during the first year that they have to go there. Rehab has this negative stigma that makes people feel ashamed or scared to go.
For those battling any addiction, going to rehab is a big deal. It means leaving the comforts of your home and the comfort you get from drugs or alcohol.
But to get treatment and to go to rehab means you have to change. This includes changing your habits, behavior, and hobbies. Change can be scary, but change can be good.
National Institute on Drug Abuse describes substance addiction as a complex disease that affects your brain and your behavior, “because addiction is a chronic disease, you can’t stop using drugs for a few days and be cured. Patients require repeated or long-term care to stop using and recover their lives.”
Unfortunately, relapse rates for individuals who enter recovery from a drug or alcohol addiction are high. It is essential for individuals who struggle with alcohol dependence or other substance dependence to acknowledge the increased risk for relapse, have an awareness of what their triggers are, and learn to cope with their triggers and emotions healthily. By understanding common risks for addiction relapse, individuals can be better equipped and better able to maintain their recovery. Here is a list of 10 common triggers that contribute to addiction relapse.
Individuals with an alcohol or drug addiction will experience varying withdrawal symptoms when they stop using a substance. Depending on the type of substance used, the quantity of use, the frequency of use, the duration of use, and other factors, withdrawal symptoms will be different on a case-by-case basis. Many individuals relapse within the first week of stopping their substance use to avoid withdrawal symptoms or thereafter due to post-acute withdrawal symptoms, which can last for up to 6 to 18 months.
As with alcohol and drug addiction, mental health issues often require long-term attention to sustain recovery. If mental health issues go unaddressed, or if an individual does not know how to cope properly, they can trigger an alcohol or drug relapse. Individuals with alcohol or drug addiction are not used to experiencing psychological issues such as depression or anxiety without using alcohol or drugs as their primary coping mechanism. If an individual receives proper alcohol and drug addiction treatment, therapists, psychiatrists, and other addiction specialists will work with the patient to address underlying mental health issues. With proper guidance from a mental health professional, and in some cases with the aid of prescribed psychotropic medications, individuals can live a thriving life with a mental health diagnosis.
Being around the same people engaging in substance use while in recovery can trigger a relapse. Part of the recovery process is setting healthy boundaries with friends, family, or colleagues who do not respect your sobriety enough to stay sober while they are around you. One should not intentionally surround themselves with other people who are using alcohol or drugs unless they have a stable foundation in their recovery. It is also helpful to have a plan in place when surrounding oneself with people using alcohol or drugs and bring a sober support and accountability partner with them when possible.
Any place that you may have associated with your alcohol or drug use is a place you would ideally want to stay away from. This is important for individuals in recovery to be aware of. If they feel triggered in a “random” situation, they may want to take inventory of their surroundings and ask themselves why they are feeling triggered. In your home, it may be helpful to get new furniture or rearrange furniture to allow for a new space that they can correlate with their newfound life in sobriety rather than with their substance use.
First, let’s remember how addiction impacts the brain, as noted above, and how minuscule things can trigger a relapse, which may not even enter our conscious minds. Anything you associate with your drinking or using is a thing to be mindful of. We live in a world where these things are nearly impossible to avoid. With awareness and mindfulness, you can understand why you might be experiencing cravings, why you are feeling the way you are, and then properly cope without using alcohol or drugs.
Individuals in recovery need to eat well, exercise, meditate, have proper sleep hygiene, and engage in other self-care behaviors that support their mental wellness and addiction recovery.
Poor self-care conveys that you don’t care about your well-being and can trigger a relapse. For example, eating a diet that is unhealthy, low in nutrients, and high in sugar may result in poor physiological and neurological health that can lead to low mood and cause alcohol or drug cravings. Weight gain can lead to individuals feeling depressed and trigger thoughts that their substance use might help them lose the weight they have put on. Poor sleep hygiene can leave individuals feeling irritable, stressed, anxious, and experiencing low moods, which can also trigger a relapse.
Suppose an individual is not in an intimate relationship when they enter recovery. In that case, staying out of one for several months or even a year is often encouraged until they are more stable in their recovery. This is because newly sober individuals may try to fill their void with an intimate partner. There are many other reasons it is encouraged not to date in sobriety. For example, dating and intimacy often involve alcohol, and a newly sober individual may not know how to navigate the dating scene without alcohol or drug use.
Due to arguments, discomfort, or insecurity that relationships can cause, this area needs to be taken with caution by a newly sober individual. Additionally, even long-term relationships before recovery can trigger unpleasant and unwanted emotions that a newly sober individual may not know how to cope with. Furthermore, newly sober individuals may never have had sober sex, so sexual experiences in recovery can be very triggering.
Sometimes individuals new to sobriety experience a pink cloud or have notions that they will never use alcohol or drugs again, no matter what. They have bad memories of their substance use and are enjoying their recovery journey. It is a great feeling when you are confident in your recovery, but remember that everyone is eligible for relapse. All it takes is a millisecond, being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or just one bad thought that leads to one bad decision. Do not be so confident in your recovery that you are willing to put yourself in risky situations or seek them out to prove that you can be sober. Do not become complacent, cocky, or have the belief that you are “cured.” No matter how confident you feel, it is encouraged to follow treatment recommendations and engage in recovery-related behaviors and activities, and stay away from people, places, and things that are not aligned with your sobriety.
Boredom and isolation could quickly be listed as the number one reason for relapse by many individuals in early recovery. Any downtime before recovery was usually used to get their substance, use it, and recover from it. Individuals new to sobriety often find lots of time on their hands. When one is bored or feeling isolated, they are left with themselves, and as they say, an addict alone is in bad company. When bored or isolated, they are left with their thoughts and emotions, which often do not want to be heard or felt. While one should also be cautious not to fill their days with activity after appointment after activity to escape reality and avoid their thoughts and emotions, it is also not healthy to be bored and isolated in early recovery.
In active addiction, you use alcohol or drugs when you were tired. When you were angry, you used alcohol or drugs. When you were sad, you used alcohol or drugs. When you were lonely, you used alcohol or drugs. When you were stressed, you used alcohol or drugs. Etcetera. Nobody wants to experience uncomfortable emotions, but they are a natural and normal part of the human experience. What is not healthy is avoiding such emotions, or even worse, using alcohol or drugs to cover them up and sweep them under the rug. The more we accept uncomfortable emotions and acknowledge that they are trying to teach us something important about our current situation, the better we can handle them and cope with them. An important part of the addiction recovery process is learning to be aware of emotions, accept emotions, feel emotions, and cope with emotions.
The longer one can maintain sobriety, the better chance one has of long-term recovery. Up to 85% of individuals relapse within their first year of sobriety. The good news is that the longer one can maintain recovery, the better their chance of sustaining long-term sobriety. Once an individual can retain sobriety for their first year, their chances of maintaining sobriety exponentially grow. It is highly recommended to seek outpatient drug and alcohol treatment and have additional support such as a sober coach and companion. Engage in holistic recovery-related behaviors and surround yourself with like-minded individuals who care about your wellbeing.
For more information on addiction treatment, therapy and mental health, sober coaching, and sober companions, or to inquire about our private concierge therapy services in 2528 W Palmetto St Florence, SC 29501 please contact us today at (843) 755-6354 or visit our website to learn more about us.