For the addicted person, relapse in recovery is not unusual. Everyone has triggers that may create a situation in which a person has a moment of weakness. Everyone’s triggers and reactions are different, so not each addicted individual may have the same reaction to these things as another, which makes relapse difficult to predict based on the occurrence of these triggers alone. But it’s worth being aware of the main things that contribute to relapse, so here are the four main triggers for relapse in recovery.
1) Expectations: Expectations that either fall short or are unfulfilled can open an addict or alcoholic up to relapse. Expectations can often be unrealistic, and the alcoholic/addict can get swept up with what they think is a fast or easy recovery. When events or people don’t turn out to be what the alcoholic/addict “expected”, they don’t know how to deal with their frustration or disappointment; and that’s when it’s easiest to turn to the only way they know to comfort themselves – using a substance to take their mind off how they are feeling.
2) Resentments: When the addicted person harbors resentment, the resentment can be so overwhelming that in order to stop the internal anger or frustration, the individual feels they need to self-medicate in hopes of turning off the “noise”. These resentments must be faced and resolved by the addict. If not resolved, these resentments eat away at the person until they give in, possibly by relapsing or other reckless behaviors.
3) Boredom: Idle time is not the newly recovering addict’s friend. It’s important to fill the time with recovery supportive activities to keep the brain on the right track and not allow thoughts of using to seep in. Routine and structure is a life-saver for the alcoholic/addict. Knowing where he or she has to be and when; being accountable to someone or something else provides a safe framework for the person in early recovery to live by and rely on.
4) Fear: People can be gripped with fear and it can cripple their ability to make important changes in their life. Although they may be very aware that their current lifestyle is unacceptable, overwhelming fear of changing and fear of the unknown keeps them from taking steps toward a better life. Facing the unknown and not feeling in control is hard work, and very scary. It’s hard to make the decision to surrender to something the person doesn’t yet know or understand.