Did you know that 40-60 % of people diagnosed with substance addiction relapse?

For some people, relapse results from reliving or being reminded of a traumatic event. For others, simple things like a scent or smoke may lead them back into substance abuse.

Unfortunately, relapse will always be a risk for individuals with substance addiction. This isn’t one of the problems we can ignore and hope it disappears.

The only way to beat relapse is to face it head-on by identifying triggers. Only then can you get yourself out of situations that may remind you about drug use. Luckily, we have all the information you need to help you avoid relapse.

Read on as we explore how to identify triggers and some common triggers you may face.

How to Identify Triggers

Identifying triggers isn’t always easy since not all will lead you directly to drugs. Some triggers will take days or weeks to manifest into actual drug use.

But, you’ll likely experience some symptoms when faced with your triggers. Here are some of the symptoms that should have you calling your sober companion:

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  • Nervousness when in situations with people using drugs
  • Tightness in your stomach
  • Having fond memories of your times using drugs
  • Feeling you need drugs to function
  • Thinking about what you’d need to do to access drugs

Symptoms like tightness in your stomach may not always signal a trigger. But it’s best to play safe and call your companion or implement coping mechanisms when you get them. Taking action is especially crucial if you’re in an environment with drugs.

Common Types of Triggers

Relapse triggers fall into two main categories — external and emotional triggers. Though they vary from person to person, we’ll look at the most common ones.

External Triggers

External triggers result from your environment and are most likely within your control. What may be normal for the people around you may be triggering for you. Here are some of the most common external triggers you need to know:

Your Loved Ones

Hard as it may be to hear, your loved ones could lead you back to drugs. This is especially likely to happen if they use drugs or don’t know you’re struggling with addiction.

So, it’s essential to talk to them about your struggles. Let them know if and how their behavior makes you feel so they can change.

Don’t be afraid to cut off ties with them if they’re not interested in your staying sober. It may be challenging, but it’ll do you a lot of good in the long run.

Drug Paraphernalia

These may include bongs for tobacco and cannabis users and pill bottles for opioid users. Seeing your former drug paraphernalia could remind you of your life before. Recovering addicts find their past lives easier, so relapsing becomes the obvious choice.

It’s essential to clean out all drug paraphernalia from your home, preferably before you get out of rehab. You can ask your friends and family to get rid of all your stashes and tools to prevent further contact.

Past Drug Dealers

You can rest assured that no drug dealer wants you to maintain sobriety. After all, they can only keep earning if you remain an addict.

So, don’t let any of them fool you into thinking you can still be friends. Leave everything reminding you of your using days behind so you can focus on staying sober.


Locations like bars you used to frequent or friends’ homes are high-risk areas. They may spark memories that could cut your sobriety journey short, so caution is needed.

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Identify areas you used to visit when you were using and avoid them. You may have to change your usual routes, but it’ll be worth it.

Being aware of triggering locations helps you apply coping mechanisms when near them. For example, when near a club, you may call a sober companion from hiredpower.com.

Relationship Changes

Relationships are high-risk triggers when people attach their recovery to their spouses. It’s normal to want to stay sober for the sake of your partner. In fact, it’s best when your spouse helps you learn how to stay sober.

But it becomes a problem when you develop a codependent relationship. You’re likely to relapse if the relationship ends if you focus too much on pleasing your partner.

So, focus on getting better for yourself. Think about how good sobriety would be for you, not your partner. This way, you’ll stay on course even if the relationship ends.

Emotional Triggers

Emotional triggers, also known as internal triggers, are from within. They’re harder to control because they occur subconsciously.

Knowing what they are can help you address them better. Here are some of the most common internal triggers:


Wild as it may sound, boredom is one of the leading causes of relapse. Your mind may wander and spark memories of what it felt like to use drugs.

So, get back to your daily routine as soon as you become sober. Find a job, volunteer, or spend time with your loved ones to keep your mind busy.


Shame is a common emotion, especially among victims of a traumatic event. Drugs often serve as a form of escape from shame and other negative feelings like guilt and anger.

Build a sober network you can call on when these negative feelings pop up. You can also practice mindful breathing, work out, go to meetings or talk to a therapist. Remember, the sooner you face negative emotions, the easier sobriety will be for you.


Some people are too confident in their recovery and surround themselves with drugs. While confidence is essential, maintaining humility is also crucial.

Remember, sobriety is a never-ending journey with ups and downs. Don’t try one drink arguing that “just one won’t hurt.” Relapse is a slippery slope that begins with one defining moment.

Drug and Alcohol Addiction

Identifying Triggers Is Vital to Remaining Sober

Let’s face it: Remaining sober isn’t as easy as relapsing, so it’s no wonder that relapse cases are so high. The temptations to go back to using drugs will always be there.

Identifying triggers is the first step to staying sober. How you react to them and handle them will determine your future. Make the right choices.

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