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Staying on the Lookout for Relapse Triggers

Hands holding binoculars on green background, looking through binoculars, journey, find and search concept.

Protecting your recovery at all costs must be emphasized at all stages of recovery.  Relapse starts well before a person picks up using a drink or a drug, so developing insight into your relapse triggers is a concept that needs continual assessment and evaluation during and after treatment.  You may ask, “What the heck is a trigger?”  A trigger can be best described as a person, place, thing, feeling, or situation that leads to a thought that taking a drink or using a drug would be a good idea.

As a person in recovery, it is your responsibility to identify and be aware of your own triggers.  A trigger prompts a thought, which if it is romanced, can become a craving.  Smash that thought, play the tape to the end, and remember the pain you felt in active addiction.  Remember the H.A.L.T concept.  When you become restless, irritable, and discontent, continually ask yourself, “Am I hungry, angry, lonely, or tired?”  If so, these feelings could increase the risk of relapse.  Only you have the power to address these feelings with the recovery tools you now possess.

We encourage people new to recovery to focus on developing healthy communication skills and learning to be emotionally intimate with peers before diving head first into a relationship rooted in physical attraction. In early recovery, the newcomer is still early in developing healthy emotional coping skills.  Romantic relationships and sexual acting out can detract a person from focusing on sobriety and often leads to a quick relapse.  Most addicts and alcoholics have used alcohol or drugs to cope with emotions.  The newcomer is an infant in emotional sobriety.  Talk about feelings openly in meetings and with a sponsor.  Most people will never heal what they do not feel.

Living in recovery will give you a life worth living.  Be aware of complacency, euphoric recall (thinking back to your drinking or using with happiness or nostalgia), and forgetting the pain that addiction has caused. Be conscious not to drift away from recovery. Regular AA and NA attendance is extremely important.  It’s an easy and common mistake for people to reduce meeting attendance, stop calling a sponsor, or just stop going to AA/NA altogether!  Again, recovery gives people a great life that can end up taking them right back out of recovery when life improves.  Remember, the brain chemistry has been changed.  You will be triggered at some point in time.  Tell on your disease before a trigger is romanced into a craving.  Remember to continually assess your motives for being around certain people or going certain places.  Think before you drink or use.  The time to call your sponsor is before, not after!  One Day at a Time.

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For more information, resources, and encouragement, “like” the Fellowship Hall Facebook page and follow us on Instagram at @FellowshipHallNC.

About Fellowship Hall

For 50 years, Fellowship Hall has been saving lives. We are a 99-bed, private, not-for-profit alcohol and drug treatment center located on 120 tranquil acres in Greensboro, N.C. We provide treatment and evidence-based programs built upon the Twelve-Step model of recovery. We have been accredited by The Joint Commission since 1974 as a specialty hospital and are a member of the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers. We are committed to providing exceptional, compassionate care to every individual we serve.