5 Common Relapse Triggers

Early sobriety can be both exhilarating and terrifying. After or during the process of treatment, you may find yourself battling cravings and worrying about the possibility of relapse. While relapse is common, it isn’t necessarily inevitable. By recognizing the most common triggers and keeping your guard up against potential threats to your sobriety, you can stay on track and prevent slip-ups on your path to recovery.

Emotional Overload

The experience of addiction and addiction recovery can be incredibly emotional. If you are one of the many people who struggle with substance abuse that have a co-occurring disorder such as anxiety or depression, it can be particularly difficult to regulate your emotions. Depending on your treatment program, you may be lacking adequate mental health care. It is crucial in addiction recovery to delve deeper into your personal history and emotional state in order to address any unresolved trauma and emotional pain that may still be lingering once you become sober. It is also important to realize that feelings of sadness and anger are a normal part of recovery, and instead of avoiding them you must learn how to properly cope with these emotions. Various therapy techniques and counseling strategies can give you the tools you need to manage your emotions without turning to drugs or alcohol.


Everyone who is attempting to overcome addiction is going to experience stress. Addiction and fresh sobriety can cause some of the most intense physical and mental stress a person can endure. The key here is eliminating other unnecessary stressors so that you don’t become overwhelmed. Early sobriety is a good time to look at your relationships and determine if the people in your life are supporting your recovery or hindering your ability to find peace. If you have the luxury of being able to take time off work in the beginning stages of recovery, a relaxing staycation is a great way to reduce stress and stay focused on your healing. It is also a good idea to take proactive measures to manage your stress such as meditation, exercise, and spending time in nature. All these activities can lower your stress levels and produce happiness-inducing endorphins so that you can find a bit of joy during a very stressful time in your life.


Loneliness and isolation are common experiences for people in early recovery. Often, changing your lifestyle to support sobriety means cutting ties with many of the people you once spent most of your time with. You may also be avoiding reaching out to loved ones you have hurt in the past, or friends and family you fear you will disappoint. Isolating yourself, however, is one of the biggest pitfalls of early sobriety. A strong support system in the form of compassionate loved ones, a support group of others struggling with addiction, or both, is one of the greatest tools for maintaining accountability and coping with cravings. Groups like Alcoholics Anonymous can be a great place to meet sober people and socialize in a judgment-free environment. Early sobriety is also a good time to focus on repairing the relationships in your life you most value, and make amends with people you have hurt.


Building and maintaining addiction requires certain lifestyle choices including where you spend your time and who you spend it with. Many people in early sobriety make the mistake of thinking they can go back to the same routine and just avoid the drugs and alcohol. Unfortunately, if you are addicted to alcohol and you go back to a life of frequent partying and barhopping, you will almost certainly relapse. Now is the time to explore new activities and maybe even find an unexpected passion. If you have supportive friends and family, invite them to join you in sober activities. If some of your friends have addiction issues of their own, now is the time to find some distance and prioritize your own sobriety. By changing your environment and providing an example of a fulfilling, sober life, you may even inspire them to seek help themselves.


One of the most common, yet unexpected, relapse triggers is thinking that you don’t have to worry too much about your sobriety. Early sobriety can create many emotions, including elation at the prospect of being free from your addiction. If you have the right support and life is going well, it can be easy to feel as if sobriety comes naturally for you now. Unfortunately, addiction can lurk in your brain for long after you become sober, just waiting for the right moment to show its sneaky face. It may be at the first sign of stress, such as when you are having problems in your relationship or at work, or it could be during a time of celebration when suddenly it occurs to you that maybe you can have “just one.” Staying vigilant and actively practicing recovery, even when things are going well, is one of the best ways to prevent relapse.


At Burning Tree, we know addiction treatment is not one-size-fits-all, and everyone is fighting a unique battle. We specialize in treating clients with a history of relapse, employing a wide range of successful techniques and methodologies in a compassionate environment. Here, you will find a culture of honesty and accountability in which you will learn a new way to live, and ultimately foster a lifetime of sobriety and wellness. For more information, call us now at 866-287-2877.


We are here for you and your family. You don't have to suffer any longer, find recovery today!

We are in-network with 15+ health insurance providers.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.