Staying sober requires more than just awareness. It takes a commitment to staying vigilant during good times, but also during times of triggers that can bring on a relapse.
Some relapse triggers are obvious, such as frequenting local bars or wandering around the neighbourhoods you know have drug activity. Even continuing to hang around with friends or acquaintances who habitually use alcohol or drugs can be dangerous, especially if they are known triggers for your own destructive behaviour. You could be heading for a relapse if you put yourself in harm’s way, or when you aren’t surrounding yourself with support from sober people.
But there are other things and people who might trigger a relapse or uncomfortable cravings that are not as obvious as walking into a bar or running into your drug dealer. Some of these things seem perfectly innocent, but the end result may be the same.
Here are 5 important relapse triggers to look out for when battling your sobriety:
- Over-the-counter medications & prescribed drugs. Medications sold over the counter sometimes contain chemicals that can be abused or used addictively. Although medications like NyQuil are intended to relieve the symptoms of a cold or the flu, a person with addictive tendencies may find that these drugs provide a warm, fuzzy, or groggy feeling that is soothing and relaxing. These drugs advise users to take no more than three or four doses a day, but a recovering alcoholic may guzzle a whole bottle. Abusing NyQuil or other substances that contain alcohol or mind-altering chemicals can be physically dangerous, and can easily trigger a relapse. Such as the same with prescribed medications for a diagnosed condition. We recommend you consult your physician and reveal your recovery before filling any prescription.
- Undiagnosed or untreated depression can cause an addict to seek out chemicals for relief of the feelings of depression. Addiction is often triggered by trying to self-medicate when you have mental health issues that aren’t being treated. If everything you try doesn’t seem to relieve feelings of depression, consult a physician immediately.
- Relationships in early sobriety. Addicts have a tendency to people addictively as well. It’s not unusual for a relationship early in sobriety to trigger an urge to relapse. It’s always been recommended that people who are still within the first year of their recovery avoid romantic relationships of any kind. This is because their #1 priority needs to be sobriety. The first few months of recovery are often described as an emotional roller coaster because there is so much going on including life changes and emotional struggles. Adding the stress of a new relationship to the mix can be overwhelming, and disastrous for the addict. It is going to take all their attention to make it through this early part of recovery.
- Extreme happiness. Extremes of any kind can be threats to sobriety, and that includes happiness. Excitement, joy, elation, anything that teeters on the edge of extreme can trigger a relapse. Recovering addicts may be surprised to find that if they go through a period of extremely good feelings, they may have the urge to pick up substances to prolong or intensify these extreme feelings.
- Trying to support others in sobriety. If your own recovery isn’t built on solid ground, it is very possible that if you try to help someone else get sober, your efforts will backfire and you may find yourself slipping into relapse. Addiction is a dangerous and insidious disease and if you to suggest recovery to another addict, you may be bringing a trigger with you.
Relapse triggers are subjective and always personal to the addict. There are more triggers than there are people in recovery, but in order to stay sober, the desire to be sober has to be the top priority in your life. Contact us if you need help; we’re here to support your journey.