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5 Relapse Triggers You Should Know About When Going Through Drug Rehab


Over the years, substance use disorder (SUD) has emerged as a grave public health concern in the US. The sheer number of Americans battling with the condition spells the gravity of the problem. According to 2022 data, 48.7 million (17.3%) Americans aged 12 or older had a SUD in the past 12 months. The number included 29.5 million with an alcohol use disorder (AUD), 27.2 million with a drug use disorder (DUD), and 8.0 million with both. 

Unfortunately, only 10% of these people receive treatment, probably because of a lack of awareness or social stigma. Another disconcerting fact is that the relapse rate for substance use addiction is 40-60%, indicating that more than half the people seeking treatment are likely to fall back into the habit. No matter how committed you are to leaving drugs for good, you may be at risk of starting again.

In this article, we will highlight the risk of relapse, potential triggers, and proven strategies to avoid them.

Drug Relapse: How Profound Is the Risk after Rehab

As of 2023, there were 17,808 substance addiction rehab clinics in the US, helping 1.46 million patients seek treatment annually. The numbers indicate that help is available if you are willing to reach out. 

New Jersey drug rehab facilities deserve a special mention because the state witnessed a significant drop in drug overdose deaths, dropping from 3,054 in 2022 to 2,565 in 2022. Notably, the state had a record-high overdose-related death count in 2021 amid the pandemic. 

Despite the encouraging statistics, drug relapse continues to be a profound risk, particularly during the first year after completing treatment. notes that relapse is not a moral failing, but an indication that your treatment plan does not align with your specific needs. On the other hand, you are less likely to fail if you follow an effective treatment plan and have a support system. 

According to Rolling Hills Recovery Center, an individual plan developed for each patient can help ensure long-term recovery and addiction-free life.In this context, you should understand the potential triggers that may hinder your path to complete recovery.

Relapse Triggers to Be Aware Of

Successful recovery from drug addiction is not just about commitment and resilience. It also requires recognizing and managing relapse triggers. These are the substances and situations you need to avoid to keep your recovery efforts on track. The following are the relapse triggers you should be aware of before, during, and after drug rehab.

Stress and Negative Emotions

Research establishes a strong link between negative emotions and substance use. They also elevate the risk of relapse among people recovering from addiction. Stressful situations and negative emotions such as anxiety, anger, or depression may push you toward using drugs as a coping mechanism. You may end up with an even bigger problem than before you started rehab.

Social Pressures and Peer Influence

According to the National Council of Mental Well-being, peer pressure causes 21% of teens to use an illicit drug at least once. Moreover, peer influence and social presence are common relapse triggers. Being around people using drugs creates temptation and triggers cravings. Also, social situations where drug use is normalized can be hard to navigate for people seeking rehab therapy.

Environmental Triggers

Another factor that may drive you toward relapse is certain environments or cues that remind you of past drug use. These could be places, people, or circumstances. For example, you may feel tempted when visiting a specific bar or partying with someone who’s always been your buddy. To some, the sight of drug paraphernalia can be a dangerous trigger. 

Overconfidence and Complacency

Drug rehab can be liberating, helping individuals regain confidence and control over their habits and temptations. However, you may feel overconfidence, resulting in complacency. Consider this emotion a red flag because it can lead you to a step away from your commitment to sobriety. You may neglect essential self-care practices and become less vigilant about potential relapse triggers.

Boredom and Lack of Purpose

Surprisingly, boredom and lack of purpose can drive you toward relapse. Addiction recovery can be a long and lonely journey, leaving you bored and lacking a sense of purpose in life. When struggling with such emotions, you may want to fill the void with drugs. 

Dealing with Relapse Triggers

Although relapse is likely an integral part of the recovery journey, it is preventable and treatable. Studies suggest that you can use it as a lesson on the way to successful and sustainable behavior change. You can try the following coping strategies to deal with the triggers and keep drug relapse at bay:

  • Adopt healthy activities and techniques to manage stress and negative emotions effectively. Mindfulness practices, therapy sessions, and relaxation activities are some examples.
  • Establish boundaries to avoid toxic relationships and protect your sobriety. Build a supportive network of peers who also share your commitment to recovery and inspire you during the journey.
  • Learn to recognize environmental triggers and develop strategies to avoid or cope with them. You can consider lifestyle changes and seek alternative activities.
  • Remain humble and acknowledge that recovery is an ongoing process. Attend support group meetings and therapy sessions to stay grounded and focus on your recovery goals.
  • Explore new interests, hobbies, and goals that give fulfillment and meaning to your life. Engage in activities that promote creativity, growth, and positive social connections. 

In conclusion, relapse is a risk individuals often encounter during their drug rehab journey. Several triggers can keep you from staying true to the commitment to abstinence. Awareness of these triggers is the best way to deal with them. Also, implement these coping strategies to stay strong and clean throughout the recovery process.

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