Addiction is an insidious disease. It will take advantage of any possible opportunity to sneak up on you. Relapse may seem common, but being able to identify and recognize your triggers enables you to catch yourself before you fall. Let’s look at seven of the more common triggers and how you can handle them when they start lurking around.
Breaking It Down
Addiction relapse triggers fall into several categories: emotional, mental, environmental, and overlooked. We will look at one or two of the most common triggers from each of these categories and discuss what you can do to prevent them from sneaking up on you.
1) HALT – Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired – These four feelings all fall into the high-risk category of relapse triggers, which is why this acronym was created. You might be around other people on a daily basis, at work, home, or school who may skip a meal, isolate or overwork themselves, or seem angry much of the time. This can have a powerful influence on you. When you feel tempted to go along with the crowd, remember HALT, stop and think about your personal, potential consequences. Do you.
2) STRESS – HALT can contribute to stress along with a host of other emotions. Since stress is a part of everyday life, feeling the need to escape it all can be powerful. Substance abuse, however, is nothing more than putting a flimsy Band-Aid on a gaping wound. Developing coping skills is like having a doctor treating the wound so that it can heal properly. Your addiction counselor can teach you those skills and support your efforts to use them.
3) Illness – Anxiety, depression, or any physical illness or disease process can test your sobriety sorely. It can be really easy to reach for that box of proverbial bandaids when you just can’t take it anymore. Please pick up the phone instead and call your doctor. While you are waiting for your appointment, reach out to your sponsor or other trusted confidante for help.
Having someone to talk to about your struggles, fix a meal for you, or help you out around the house can make a world of difference. When you do see your doctor, make sure he or she understands that all prescription medication must be non-addictive.
4) Social Isolation – It can be tempting to shut yourself off from the world and believe it is a coping mechanism, but in actuality, it releases us from any accountability and can justify using again. If you suffer from social anxiety, make sure your sponsor and your counselor know. They can refer you to support groups with others who are facing the same problem.
5) Relationships – Give yourself that first year to just do you. It really is vital to your recovery. Even a positive experience can generate a plethora of emotions to handle that can jeopardize your recovery. It’s also possible to replace your drug of choice with a love addiction.
6) Over-Confidence – While building self-confidence is an integral part of recovery, over-confidence can lead you into complacency, which can land you right back where you started. Continuing to work your sobriety program is key, regardless of how long you’ve been sober. Stay humble.
7) Positive Stress – You finally earned your degree or got that coveted promotion. Whatever the joyous occasion may be, you’ll want to celebrate. Just keep it a sober event. Don’t try telling yourself that you can have just one drink and walk away.
Most important of all, relapse is not failure. Just get help right away. Remember, it’s always one day at a time.