5 Common Relapse Triggers

Did you know that around 40-60% of people treated for substance abuse disorders relapse? Those numbers can be rather disheartening, but don’t let them scare you from seeking recovery. In fact, in knowing some of the potential triggers and coming up with a plan of action, you can increase your chances of maintaining sobriety. These 5 common relapse triggers are a great place to start:

1. Stress

Stress is dangerous. Especially for those who are in recovery as it can trigger substance abuse. With the constant pressure of dealing with expectations and the body’s physical response to changes in hormones and chemicals, it can be difficult to find ways to cope. Check-in with yourself frequently to make sure that you are dealing with your emotions. Jot down your thoughts and take mental breaks when you need them. Practice mindful behaviors! Stress is all around us and it’s up to you to figure out how you can cope with it properly.

2. Times of Celebration

Celebrations of positive happenings are often triggering too. You might feel like you can risk being around your trigger or even taking part if you’re happy and in control. Remember that your addictive behavior has often made it so that you don’t know when exactly to stop. So one drink, one smoke, one behavior could turn into a binge or a total relapse. In times of celebration, it’s best to plan ahead. Have a buddy on hold that you can call or make certain to have an escape plan for when things get too tempting.

3. Being Exposed to the Object of Your Addiction

A reminder of the object of your addiction is a surefire trigger. That’s why early on in recovery, it’s key to try and remove temptations from around you. Pick up new hobbies or find substitute behaviors in order to avoid and resist! If you can, remove yourself from the environment altogether. In the same vein, a person or place connected to your addiction can be triggering too, so establishing a coping strategy is the best way to work through these complicated emotions.


HALT is an acronym for “hungry, angry, lonely, tired.” Any of these emotions are common triggers for addiction relapse and should be avoided as they’re considered “high-risk.” More often then not, this is because if you’re too hungry, angry, lonely, or tired, you might reach for simple solutions to erase those negative feelings regardless of the consequences. Come up with strategies to cope in a healthy manner to deal directly with these issues as they arise.

5. Overconfidence

Lastly, overconfidence is a major trigger for many people in recovery, especially as you move along from early recovery. As the months pass and turn to years, you may feel yourself becoming more confident in your ability to handle triggering situations or feelings. Being confident in yourself isn’t a bad thing. However, confidence can easily turn to feeling as though you’re over your addiction or that you’ve moved past it. This is the wrong way of thinking – no matter how far into recovery you are, it’s always crucial to maintain healthy strategies to avoid relapse.