Most Common Triggers for Relapse

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Most Common Triggers for Relapse

Relapse is a common occurrence in recovery. Relapse is defined as “a return of a disease or illness after partial recovery from it” or “to fall back into vice, wrongdoing, or error: backslide. Physical relapse is the final event. There are 3 key stages to relapse and triggers to be knowledgeable about.

The stages of relapse are emotional relapse, mental relapse, and finally physical relapse. Stage one may include not going to meetings or not sharing, poor eating and sleeping habits, and bottling up emotions. Mental relapse begins the cravings for drugs and alcohol. You may be looking for relapse opportunity, thinking about using, and minimizing the consequences of using.
The final stage, physical relapse, is acting on the urges and using.

Here are some of the most common triggers for relapse:


  • Dishonesty. This can be white lies to friends, family, or coworkers and/or lying to yourself.
  • Self-pity. You may be feeling like a victim and not taking responsibility for your actions and outcomes.
  • Changing your self-care routine. This can start with boredom. Skipping or changing meetings, prayer, meditation, therapy, or meeting with a sponsor can be a step towards relapse.
  • Exhaustion. Not getting adequate sleep, nutrition, or exercise impacts your emotional health. It impacts decision making.
  • Judging others. You can’t expect others to stop using just because you have. Your job is to focus on your problems, your solutions, and your recovery.
  • Frustration. Things will not always go your way. You will hit red lights and get fired from jobs. Moving into acceptance helps stabilize recovery.
  • Impatience. People are not doing what you want when you want it. Things aren’t happening fast enough for you. Breathe. Pray.
  • Cockiness. “I’ve been sober for x days. I’m good now.” Here you may start to put yourself in dangerous situations due to your overconfidence.
  • Complacency. Reducing the level of work you put into your program. Most relapses happen when things are going well. Watch out for complacency.
  • Argumentativeness. Fighting with others about small or insignificant things can develop as an excuse to drink.
  • Taking mood altering medicine. Whether it’s pain medication or treatment for mental disorders like anxiety, taking addictive mood altering medicines leads many into relapse.
  • Depression or other mental health issues. You may feel despair and not know how to deal with it. Reach out and get professional help.


There are many triggers to relapse. People, places, and things can all triggers that urge to use. Using the list of internal triggers to watch out for can help you avoid the landmine of relapse. If you have already relapsed, help is available. You are not alone. There is hope!
At Simple Recovery, we maintain a simple goal for our residents: learn how to live sober. Our multi-phase program is structured to rebuild life for each resident through clinical therapy, holistic recovery, and integration to either school, work, or volunteering. For information on our programs of treatment for addiction and dual diagnosis, call us today: 888-743-0490