When going through recovery, sometimes people fall into a relapse at least once during their journey. A relapse is when someone who is not using begins to use again. Various internal or external triggers usually cause this. This does not have to be the case for everyone, however. Learning to know what triggers you have can help you work through them and help you have a plan to prevent a relapse. Let’s take a look at some common triggers and how to work with them.


Not surprisingly, one of the primary triggers of relapse is stress. It is not uncommon for those who struggle with addiction to turn to or begin craving their drug of choice during stressful times. Many research studies show that “wanting” to participate in drug use was the person’s primary coping mechanism for dealing with stress.

One of the most critical steps to take here would be to evaluate what stresses you currently have in your life. Evaluate them and then remove them. Although you may not be able to remove every stressful person or thing in your life, you can control avoiding stressful situations. You can start by making a list of people, places, or something that illicit this response from you.

Who or what causes you stress? This could be anything from a toxic relationship to a financial situation. Some ways to help manage stress include practicing mindfulness, managing your time to avoid panic mode, and incorporating healthy eating and exercise in your daily routine. Working with a therapist or counselor can help you listen to your body and know what to watch for.

Tips for managing stress:

  • Find mindfulness meditation and practice it daily
  • Practice healthy eating habits such as incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your diet, regular meals, and avoiding junk food or sugar binges which can cause fatigue.
  • Exercise is important but try not to overdo it either. Yoga has been shown in several studies to help with anxiety symptoms.

People or Places Related to the Drug Use

People who were involved in your drug use could be a trigger. Even if they are no longer using, there is a lot of history and emotion that could bring up feelings of wanting to participate in drug use once more. This goes for places and even family members, especially if they make you feel vulnerable or child-like.

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When you are reminded of your addiction, it is essential to have a plan to deal with all the emotions that might arise from these situations. For example, if friends are inviting you to go out drinking and you are recovering from drinking, have a response ready or another activity suggestion. You can brainstorm ideas with your counselor or therapist on different ways to respond to situations to be better prepared.

Tips for dealing with people or places related to drug use:

  • Change the way you think about people and places that remind you of drug use: try looking at them as a reminder to stay strong and not give in to temptation.
  • Avoid situations where drugs or alcohol are offered.


Challenging and negative emotions from daily life can be a trigger. People who are recovering will need to find a healthy way to cope with these feelings, primarily since drugs and alcohol were usually used to deal with these negative feelings, to begin with. Remember, having these feelings is not a setback as long as you learn to deal with them healthily.

Emotions can be a growth opportunity. Learning how to deal with them and not use them is an invaluable lesson. Things like meditating and journaling can be beneficial. Come up with a plan with your counselor on different healthy alternatives to dealing with emotions.

Tips for calming your emotions:

  • Pick up a book to read
  • Take a deep breath and count to five
  • Find something that makes you happy, i.e., watch your favorite movie, call a friend or family member who can help distract you from these feelings.

Coming in Contact With The Drug

Reminders of your addiction can trigger a relapse, even something as small as a whiff of cigarette smoke or watching others enjoying a few cocktails. Such reminders might feel like they are everywhere in the beginning stages of your recovery. However, recovery is not just about quitting. Recovery is about creating a new life for yourself and making healthier choices for yourself.

Remember the negative consequences from the time you used. For example, people may have been hurt, and relationships may have been lost. You might think that you want to use it again, but it brought a lot more heartache in reality. Instead, create a plan for a healthier behavior to replace the old habits. Things like yoga or other physical activities are great alternatives. You might even enjoy taking a nice relaxing bath or going for a walk and listening to music.

Tips for coming in contact with the drug:

  • If you are afraid of coming in contact with the drug, avoid people who use it or places where it is used.
  • Practice staying sober for even one day at a time to ensure that relapse does not become an option again.
  • Try using different coping skills when dealing with stress and negative emotions so that these feelings do not lead to a craving.


Even positive settings like family celebrations can be a trigger. Perhaps holding a drink in your hand gave you the confidence to flirt and chat, but without it, maybe you are not so sure of yourself. Even so, can you keep it under control? Many individuals who are struggling with addiction have a hard time knowing exactly when to quit. Thus, one drink leads to a binge. It may be helpful to have someone you trust to go with you during these situations like these. It will need to be someone that can firmly and kindly tell you to stop.

Relapse is something that could occur during recovery, but it is not a failure. It is a slight detour in your road to recovery. Working with your counselor, recognizing your triggers, and coming up with different healthy alternatives can help you stay healthy.

Tips for staying sober during celebrations:

  • Stay busy so that drinking doesn’t become the main focus of the night.
  • Ask someone else who will be attending if they can keep an eye on you or are willing to help keep you accountable.

Mood swings

Mood swings are a normal emotional response to life experiences, and it is essential not to be ashamed or upset about them. Recognizing what triggers your mood swings will enable you to better deal with the changes in your emotions during this process, but remember that these feelings are natural parts of many people’s withdrawal experiences.

Tips for dealing with mood swings:

  • Find healthy outlets for your feelings.
  • Talk to someone about how you are feeling, whether it is with friends or family members who can support what you are going through.
  • Meditate and practice deep breathing exercises if possible. These activities will help slow down your heart rate, which can decrease stress levels in the body.

Social pressure

Being around people that you know use is a risk of relapse. It can also be tempting to try things again because it looked so fun, even if just for a moment. This would usually only result in more pain, suffering, and guilt and loss of trust by those who care about you the most. Instead, find healthy ways to deal with these feelings, such as talking them over with your counselor or therapist, taking some time away from others, going outside for fresh air, or exercising at the gym, might help take off some steam.

Tips to help with social pressure:

  • Don’t isolate yourself from those who care about you because of your feelings.
  • Avoid triggers such as talking to others about drugs and alcohol or going shopping at stores where liquor is displayed prominently.
  • Come up with safe alternatives for dealing with these emotions. Perhaps taking an exercise class or calling a supportive friend might help keep you on track without risking another setback in recovery.

Sleep deprivation

Most people who use substances to cope with stress and pain will often overwork themselves. They may even do this after they have quit using drugs or alcohol because their body has been used to functioning on little sleep for a long time. When you are under-slept, it can be challenging to make clear decisions and care for yourself properly. This is why you must get enough rest every night – otherwise, your moods might change abruptly or become more irritable than usual.

Tips to help with sleep deprivation:

  • Go to bed at a regular time each night
  • Do not use any electronic devices or watch TV in bed, as it will make it harder for your mind to shut off and calm down. Try reading instead.
  • Limit caffeine intake after lunchtime and sugar intake throughout the day – both can interfere with sleep quality.
  • Exercise daily but avoid working out right before going to bed

Financial problems

Financial issues are common substance abuse relapse triggers. Many drug addicts and alcoholics take to crime, such as theft or fraud, to provide themselves with their substance of choice. You must make a plan before these types of situations happen, so you know what steps you need to take if something were ever to go wrong financially speaking – otherwise, your addiction might come right back again because the pressure was too much.

Tips to help with financial stress:

  • Create a budget and stick to it
  • Make sure you have some savings set aside for emergencies.
  • Stay away from the ATM.
  • Take care of your bills first before going out and buying unnecessary items that will drain your bank account even more.

Family issues

Arguments with family members or friends can be a common trigger for relapse. If you feel lonely, embarrassed, sad, and angry about your past behavior and choices, it’s essential to take care of yourself emotionally during this time. It’s okay to feel these feelings, but try not to act on them. Instead of drinking or using drugs, call your counselor or therapist instead.

Tips to help with family issues:

  • Accept the things that cannot be changed
  • Learn to see beyond your world and consider other people’s feelings
  • Take some time for yourself
  • Leave the house if you need to

How to avoid these triggers

The key to avoiding relapse triggers is being prepared. This means knowing how you typically deal with difficult situations and emotions so that when they do happen, it’s easy for you to stay on track without feeling tempted by substances again. Being attentive to your feelings and taking action towards improving them can be helpful during this process.

You should also try working out what types of activities help you feel better to build a list of healthy alternatives. If boredom often leads you back to drugs or alcohol, getting involved in new projects will give your mind something to focus on besides cravings. At the same time, exercise might relieve some tension from negative emotions too.

You might also find it helpful to surround yourself with positive people who are not using substances themselves because they will understand you easier without triggering a desire in you to do the same. You could try some new hobbies or meet up with friends so that your daily routine is kept exciting and doesn’t drag on too long, which can cause problems.

Remember, it’s about learning from these experiences when they happen and making changes where necessary. Just keep in mind that recovery takes time, but eventually, things should improve as long as you continue moving forward one step at a time towards sobriety instead of looking back at what once was.

Share your list of triggers with someone close

Sharing your list of triggers with somebody that you trust can help because they will know what to watch out for. This person should also learn a lot about addiction and how it works to give advice when needed – this could make the whole process more manageable instead of going through the motions alone.

Using these strategies is crucial if you want to succeed in your recovery from drug & alcohol addiction. It’s normal not to feel too confident initially but try talking to others whenever possible, researching topics related to relapse prevention, or getting involved in activities such as meditation, which experts have proven helpful over time.

Make a plan

Making a plan for what you’ll do if you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation where one of your triggers might come up again is an excellent way to prepare for the worst. You could even write it down as an emergency strategy or draft text messages that you can send yourself, which gives you encouragement and motivation.

Remember that it might be difficult the first few times you try, but as long as you keep trying and practicing these techniques, they will eventually become second nature. It’s also essential to think about how much better things could be if you find a way through, so try not to get too discouraged.

Don’t beat yourself up for falling back into old habits when triggers happen. Learn from the experience instead, then move forward one step at a time towards sobriety again, just like in recovery. The key is having support and knowing how to handle these things without taking drugs or alcohol so try working with an addiction counselor if needed.

Identify the warning signs that lead up to relapse

This will help you to avoid these situations, which might otherwise turn into a significant relapse. If you have somebody who knows about your addiction and triggers, then make sure to share this information with them to watch out for things.

Remember: You are not alone on this journey. There is someone there to help guide you every step of the way. And remember, relapse does NOT mean failure – recovery is a process without an endpoint, but just keep taking one day at a time until eventually, lasting change happens! Recovery can take months or even years, depending on how long you have gone through addiction-related issues before getting professional support. It might feel challenging sometimes because life has become unmanageable due to substance abuse relapse triggers, but by seeking help and using techniques, you can make changes for the better.