Life long recovery is possible.
Young woman relaxing in nature and enjoying an addiction-free life. But why do addicts relapse when things are good?

Why do Addicts Relapse when Things are Good?

Understanding the challenges of addiction and the journey to recovery can often feel like navigating a labyrinth in the dark, especially if you or a loved one have experienced a relapse. You might feel lost, frustrated, and perhaps a bit scared. However, you’re not alone, and relapse doesn’t mean failure; it’s just a bend in your road to recovery. It’s essential to understand that relapse is a standard process. While it may seem counterintuitive, relapse often occurs when things seem to improve. But why do addicts relapse when things are good?

At Experience Recovery, we empower individuals in their journey towards lasting sobriety, fostering understanding and well-being in a supportive environment.

This comprehensive guide aims to shed light on the often misunderstood concept of addiction and relapse, its stages, how to prevent it, and more. Let’s delve deeper into this topic to help you or your loved one navigate the path to recovery more effectively.

Understanding Addiction and Relapse

To unravel why addicts relapse when things are good, it’s crucial first to understand the nature of addiction. Addiction is a complex condition, often seen as a brain disease that leads to compulsive substance abuse despite harmful consequences. It is characterized by an inability to stop using drugs or alcohol or engaging in behavior like gambling, even when it causes physical or psychological harm.

But here’s where it gets tricky. Addiction isn’t a straight path. It’s cyclical, often marked by periods of remission and relapse. This cyclic nature is one reason why viewing addiction as a chronic disease is so important, similar to how we view diseases like diabetes or hypertension. These conditions need ongoing care; setbacks don’t mean the treatment has failed.

Relapse rates among those recovering from addiction are similar to those in other chronic diseases. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 40% to 60% of individuals in treatment for substance abuse disorders will relapse at some point. This figure isn’t meant to discourage but to underscore that relapse is a common, albeit challenging, aspect of recovery.

At Experience Recovery, we recognize this cyclic nature of addiction and have tailored our programs to offer a range of services that address the varied stages of recovery. From outpatient care to intensive residential programs, we provide comprehensive, evidence-based therapies to prevent relapse and maintain long-term recovery.

Why Do Addicts Experience Relapse When Things are Going Well?

Community therapy in a rehab center, where relapse prevention programs are available

We often assume that recovery should be straightforward and relapse should be off the table once things are going well. However, reality tends to be much more complex. Various factors can cause a person in recovery to relapse, even when their situation appears to be improving.

Let’s delve into some of these triggers:


Progress in recovery can sometimes be a more straight, upward trajectory. You may have hit a plateau and need to move forward or achieve new milestones. This feeling of stagnation can create frustration and disillusionment, potentially triggering a relapse.

We understand that continuous growth and personal development are integral to recovery. That’s why we create dynamic, personalized treatment plans that evolve with you, supporting progress at every stage.

Lack of Awareness

Another common pitfall on the road to recovery is a lack of self-awareness. Being in tune with your thoughts, feelings, and triggers can significantly affect how you navigate recovery. If you’re unaware of what might push you towards drug abuse, you may succumb to these triggers, even when things seem to be going well. Mindfulness and self-reflection, critical components of our therapeutic modalities, help cultivate this much-needed awareness.


Confidence in your ability to overcome addiction is crucial. However, becoming overconfident or complacent can blur the ongoing challenges of recovery. You might underestimate the power of triggers or overlook the importance of continuous self-care and support. Balancing self-confidence with a realistic understanding of the recovery process is vital in preventing relapse during ‘good times.’


Those behaviors or thought patterns keep you from doing what you want to do, achieving what you want to achieve. Recognizing and managing self-sabotaging tendencies, an essential part of our treatment approach can profoundly affect your recovery.


Physical and emotional withdrawals can remain challenging even when things are going well. These lingering withdrawal symptoms of your body adjusting to the absence of the substance can sometimes prompt a relapse.

At Experience Recovery, we’re equipped with the knowledge, tools, and techniques to help you navigate this critical aspect of recovery.

Mental Health Issues

Individuals battling addiction often also struggle with co-occurring mental health disorders, such as:

  • Stress: recovery can be stressful, and periods of high stress can potentially trigger a relapse. Managing stress through healthy coping mechanisms and therapeutic practices is a crucial part of our approach at Experience Recovery.
  • Anxiety: anxiety disorders are pretty common among those struggling with addiction. It can intensify cravings and make sobriety more challenging, increasing the risk of relapse.
  • Depression: It can trigger feelings of hopelessness and despair, which may drive an individual back to substance abuse. It’s essential to address and treat depression as part of a comprehensive recovery plan.
  • PTSD: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is another common co-occurring condition that can complicate recovery. Trauma can lead to substance use as a coping mechanism, making PTSD a potential trigger for relapse.

Addiction Triggers

A thorough understanding of addiction triggers can make a big difference in recovery. Triggers can broadly be categorized as social triggers, such as specific people or social situations, and environmental triggers, like particular locations or times of day. Identifying these triggers can help you navigate and manage them more effectively, reducing the risk of relapse. Learn more about the importance of identifying addiction triggers in our detailed guide.

Lack of Self-Care

Recovery isn’t just about abstaining from substance abuse—it’s also about taking care of your overall health. When physical, emotional, or mental health is neglected, the risk of relapse increases. A consistent self-care routine can improve well-being, bolster resilience, and sustain recovery.

Lack of Motivation

Staying motivated in recovery can be challenging, especially when faced with obstacles or setbacks. Motivation plays a significant role in maintaining sobriety, and a lack of it can lead to relapse. But it’s crucial to find sustainable sources of motivation—those that resonate deeply with you and your recovery goals.

Our team at Experience Recovery can help you explore and identify these motivators, providing you with additional tools to maintain long-term recovery.

What are the 3 Stages of an Addiction Relapse?

Therapist supporting patient in a consultation and helping her understand why addicts relapse when things are good

Addiction Relapse is not a singular event but a process that unfolds over time, often divided into three stages: the emotional, mental, and physical. Understanding these stages can equip you and your loved ones with the knowledge needed to prevent a full relapse and maintain the path of recovery.

Emotional Stage

The first stage can often catch you off guard. Feelings of anxiety, mood swings, irritability, and restlessness characterize it. You may not be thinking about using substances again. Still, your emotions may be setting the stage for a potential relapse.

At Experience Recovery, we stress the importance of recognizing these emotional signs and implementing self-care practices and emotional regulation strategies to prevent progression to the next stage.

Mental Stage

The mental stage of relapse is marked by a tug-of-war in your mind. Part of you wants to use it again, while the other part remembers why you decided to get sober. This inner battle can be exhausting and stressful, increasing the risk of progressing to the physical stage.

Techniques like cognitive-behavioral therapy, mindfulness practices, and stress management can be powerful tools to manage this stage. Our team at Experience Recovery is dedicated to helping you strengthen these skills.

Physical Stage

The physical stage of relapse is the act of returning to substance abuse. It’s crucial to remember that relapse can be dangerous—even deadly—especially if you consume the same amount as before you got sober. Your body’s tolerance to the substance has decreased during sobriety, making overdose a real risk.

Early intervention is critical to preventing a full-blown relapse. Reach out to your support system, or get in touch with us at Experience Recovery. Remember, relapse is not a failure but a signal that your treatment plan may need adjustments.

Myths and Truths About Relapse and Addiction Recovery

In addiction recovery, misinformation can be more than just confusing—it can potentially hinder progress and even deter individuals from seeking help. We believe in educating our clients and their loved ones to demystify addiction and provide clarity on this complex journey.

Let’s set the record straight and debunk some common myths about relapse and addiction:

1. Addicts cannot return to everyday life after recovery.

No. Recovery is a lifelong process, but it doesn’t mean life has to be less fulfilling. With proper treatment and support, individuals can reclaim their lives, make amends, and contribute positively to society.

2. A person must hit ‘rock bottom’ before they can get better.

No. Recovery can begin at any stage of addiction. The idea of ‘rock bottom’ can be dangerous, often leading individuals to suffer unnecessary pain and hardship. Early recovery can lead to better outcomes in treating substance use disorders.

3. If you relapse, it means your treatment has failed.

No. Relapse is a common part of the recovery process. Just as symptoms may recur in other chronic diseases like hypertension or diabetes, a relapse indicates that treatment needs to be reinstated or adjusted.

4. Treatment didn’t work before, so there’s no point in trying again.

Recovery is a journey, and not all treatments work the same for everyone. What didn’t work before may work now, or a different treatment approach may be more effective. Don’t let past experiences deter you from pursuing recovery.

5. People who relapse just aren’t ready to get sober.

Absolutely not. Readiness for change can fluctuate, and it’s common for individuals to have mixed feelings about giving up substances, even when they recognize they have a problem. Relapse doesn’t mean someone isn’t ready to get sober; it’s a regular and expected part of recovery.

By debunking these myths, we hope to foster understanding and empathy towards those battling addiction and their complex journey toward sobriety.

At Experience Recovery, we are committed to providing accurate information and effective treatment strategies to guide you or your loved one toward a successful recovery.

What To Do After a Relapse?

Front view of the Experience Recovery treatment center, where patients can engage in relapse prevention programs during recovery

Encountering a relapse can feel like a setback in recovery. However, remember that it doesn’t define your strength or commitment toward sobriety.

Here’s what you should do if you or a loved one relapses:

  • Seek Out Support: Connecting with people who understand your situation is crucial. Talk to a trustworthy friend, family member, or mental health professional about your experience. At Experience Recovery, our team of certified professionals is always here to lend a listening ear and guide you back on the path of recovery.
  • Participate in Support Groups: Joining support groups such as Narcotics Anonymous or Alcoholics Anonymous can provide comfort and perspective. Knowing you’re not alone in your struggles can be empowering, fostering a sense of belonging and shared understanding.
  • Create a Relapse Prevention Plan: If you haven’t already, work with your therapist or counselor to develop a comprehensive relapse prevention plan. This plan will help you identify potential triggers, plan appropriate responses, and take detailed steps if a relapse occurs. We provide personalized relapse prevention planning at Experience Recovery, ensuring you have practical strategies to maintain long-term sobriety.
  • Use It to Make You Stronger: A relapse can be an opportunity to learn and grow. Understand what led to the relapse, and use that knowledge to strengthen your coping mechanisms. Remember, recovery is a journey and not a destination. Each hurdle you overcome makes you stronger.

Experience Recovery is Here to Help if You Relapse

Info sign at the entrance of the Experience Recovery treatment center, with phone numbers, website, address, and opening hours.

Experiencing a relapse can often feel like a crushing defeat. In such moments, the key is not to lose hope but to take the necessary steps to get back on recovery.

One essential step is recognizing the importance of returning to treatment. At Experience Recovery, we understand that each individual’s journey is unique. That’s why, in the event of a relapse, we reassess your situation, identify any new or intensified triggers, and readjust your treatment plan accordingly.

Our team employs a variety of therapeutic modalities, including DBT, CBT, family programs, and holistic therapies. We’re equipped to handle any setbacks in your recovery, tailoring our approach to your specific needs and implementing necessary adjustments to your treatment plan.

We aim to help you get back on track and better prepare you for the road ahead and we are here to guide you through every step of your journey.

Call us now, and let’s begin this journey to healing together. You don’t have to face this alone. We’re here for you every step of the way.

Are You a Codependent?

Are You a Codependent?

Many of us dive head-first into relationships, losing contact with friends, family, and yearning to spend every moment with our new partner. Because we often start relationships wearing rose-colored goggles we may be missing something critical about how this new relationship can consume our quality of life. Too often, we become dependent on a partner, even one who is bad for us or downright abusive. If a partner is encouraging some detrimental behaviors, from experimenting with drugs and alcohol to taking time off work, to isolating ourselves, it might be an unhealthily codependent relationship. At our Orange County rehab and detox center, many patients who went through recovery were in this kind of toxic codependent relationship and may not have even realized it. Because of how important healthy relationships are to long-term health and recovery, we focus a lot on how to build and form mutually beneficial relationships, and how to repair relationships that are unhealthy, unproductive, or that could inhibit our drug and alcohol recovery and detox. First, we have to identify what codependency is and how it affects us.

Codependency Can Make Us Vulnerable to Addiction

Because a codependent relationship allows someone to diffuse serious issues, like drug use, financial instability, and isolation, to their partners, it provides an all-too-easy excuse to become hooked on a certain lifestyle and abdicate control of our lives to someone else. This kind of complacency can lead to a slow erosion of our values and gradual progression into more risky, sedentary, and unhealthy behaviors. Many people relapse post-detox because they end returning to the same enabling environment that encouraged addiction to begin with. While a lot of text refers to women in codependent relationships, the truth is any kind of relationship can be an unhealthy codependency if one person gives up their own self-interests to have their decisions controlled by another. There is obviously some appeal to giving up responsibility and control of your life, especially if you’re not confident or unhappy, but this is always unhealthy and will revert any progress towards bettering yourself.

Are You in a Codependent Relationship?

Life is full of challenges to make friends, find love, and to blossom into our true selves. Unfortunately, a lot of people use these challenges of life to manipulate or control our emotions. Have you done something you knew you’d regret just to impress your partner? Do you frequently feel you have to be validated by your partner, or that you have to always check with them before you do anything? Do you often put your own needs, comfort, and safety behind their needs and wants? Are you unhappy in your relationship, and if so, are you or your partner blaming you for that lack of fulfillment or excitement? The Pharmacists Recovery Network has a full list of such negative self-reflections at their site.

These are all signs of a controlling or unhealthy codependent relationship. In rehab and recovery, we focus a lot on a concept called the Locus of Control. Locus of control simply means whether we feel in control of our own lives or actions, or if we feel outside forces control us. For example, if you are late running late and hit traffic, do you blame the traffic or do you decide you’ll check the traffic before you leave next time and perhaps leave a little earlier? The difference between these mindsets is taking ownership of your own life and choices.

Freedom from Addiction and Codependency

While life does throw challenges at us, and sometimes we do just have bad luck, having an internal locus of control empowers us to seek solutions and seek self-improving behavior to avoid or overcome these challenges in the future. Codependent relationships often erode this sense of self-ownership, which is why they can be prone to enforcing addiction. Rather than saying “I can do better,” codependent relationships often have us saying “I deserve this.” If you feel like you’re frequently looking down on yourself, blaming yourself for problems in your life and the lives of others, and struggling with drugs or alcohol, we encourage you to talk to us about a way forward. Reach us as soon as you can at (714) 782-3973.

The Importance of Identifying Triggers

The Importance of Identifying Addiction Triggers in Recovery

Identifying Addiction Triggers is Necessary for Recovery

When we talk about addiction triggers, it is a common misconception that quitting drugs or drinking is just a matter of stopping. People think: “What’s the big deal? Just don’t put drugs or alcohol in your body, and move on with your life!”

Unfortunately, overcoming addiction is not an easy challenge. Drug addiction led to nearly 92,000 fatal overdoses in the U.S. in 2020. Drug-involved overdoses are at an all-time high. We believe it is fair to say that most of them desperately wanted to get sober.

If addicted people could simply make the decision to get sober, snap their fingers, and turn their lives around, they would. But, having a substance use disorder is a complicated endeavor. Recovery is not easy and most people require addiction treatment to reclaim their lives once they become addicted to drugs or alcohol.

Triggers provide a perfect example of why staying sober isn’t as simple as it seems. For many individuals, recognizing and preventing relapse is one of the most challenging aspects of recovery. Unless you have experienced them personally, you cannot imagine how difficult it can be to navigate a trigger without giving in to temptation.

Let’s talk about triggers and explain why identifying them is vital to the recovery process. This will not only help sober people stay sober; it will also educate those who don’t fully understand the disease of addiction.

What Are Addiction Triggers?

In simple terms, a trigger is anything that brings back thoughts, feelings, or memories of an addiction.

Triggers happen for people who are in recovery from a substance use disorder. But, they can also happen for people who have been hooked on gambling, sex, food, and other types of behavioral addictions. Sometimes, a trigger can lead to a craving, which is defined as an intense desire to do something.

One of the most important things to understand in addiction recovery is the triggers that can lead to relapse.

Triggers can be both internal and external. Internal triggers are related to emotions such as anger, fear, sadness, or boredom, while external triggers are related to people, places, and things associated with past drug or alcohol use.

It’s essential to recognize the signs of an addiction trigger so you can take steps to avoid it or manage it in a healthy way, such as evading certain people or places that could be associated with substance abuse, practicing mindfulness and self-care, and learning how to cope with difficult emotions effectively.

Understanding relapse triggers and coping with cravings is essential in maintaining sobriety and developing better habits.

Common Types of Addiction Triggers in Recovery:

Addiction triggers can be challenging to identify, especially in the early stages of recovery. But understanding and recognizing them is critical to successful long-term sobriety.

The triggers can be broken down into several categories, including environmental, emotional, behavioral, and psychological. By knowing what common addiction triggers exist, you can better manage them and take steps to avoid relapse.

Let’s learn more about each type of addiction relapse trigger and how to avoid them below:

Environmental triggers (people, places, things)

Environmental addiction triggers are external factors that can lead to a relapse in recovery. These triggers can include people, places, events, and emotions that remind of the addiction.

Some of the most common examples of environmental triggers include:

  • Being in specific locations (e.g., bars, neighborhoods associated with past use);
  • Spending time with people who actively use drugs or alcohol;
  • Experiencing financial problems or stress from work or academy;
  • Experiencing conflicts such as romantic breakups and divorce;
  • Emotional occasions such as vacations, anniversaries, celebrations, and holidays;
  • Seeing substance-related marketing on social media, movies, or TV shows.

The best way to avoid environmental addiction triggers is to become aware of your surroundings and the people around you. Being around certain people can lead to relapse, so limiting your contact with them is crucial.

Additionally, taking time out for yourself and engaging in activities such as exercise, meditation, or reading can help reduce any negative emotions and stress that could lead to substance use.

With an awareness of potential triggers and a plan in place for avoiding them, you can work towards achieving long-term sobriety.

Emotional triggers (stress, anxiety, depression)

Emotional triggers are emotional states that can lead to relapse in recovery. These emotional states can range from anger, sadness, and loneliness to boredom or stress. Experiencing strong emotions such as anger, sadness, or joy can also act as a reminder or increase the urge to use.

It is important to recognize these emotional triggers and manage them appropriately. Otherwise, it could lead someone down a path of substance abuse without even realizing what has happened.

The following are some common examples of emotional triggers:

  • Feeling lonely or isolated;
  • Feeling overwhelmed by activities and responsibilities;
  • Facing rejection or criticism from others;
  • Feeling powerless in certain situations;
  • Being too hard on yourself for mistakes made in the past;
  • Reduced self-esteem due to the unrealistic portrayal of real life on social media;
  • Hearing songs associated with the addiction;
  • Experiencing strong emotions such as anger or joy;
  • Experiencing intense worry, fear, and uncertainty about sobriety;
  • Frustrated with their progress in recovery.

It is important to practice self-care by engaging in healthy activities such as exercise and meditation to reduce the risk of relapse due to emotional addiction triggers. Building a solid support system with friends and family who understand your recovery journey is also beneficial.

Additionally, attending regular therapy sessions where you can discuss any challenges you face to develop practical coping skills is fundamental.

Following these strategies can reduce the risk of relapse due to emotional addiction triggers and maintain long-term sobriety.

Behavioral triggers (routine, habits)

Behavioral triggers are activities and habits that can lead to relapse in recovery. These triggers can involve certain behaviors, such as going to a bar or club or even boredom.

Behavioral addiction triggers can also be anything from seeing drug-related content online, engaging in activities associated with the addiction (such as playing video games), or even just having free time without anything to do.

Some of the most common examples of behavioral triggers include:

  • Having too much idle time without meaningful projects or activities;
  • Not maintaining healthy eating and sleep routines;
  • Setting unrealistic expectations and goals without processes for achieving them;
  • Skipping therapy sessions or meetings;
  • Not having a plan for how to cope with stressful situations or triggers;

One of the most important tips for avoiding Behavioral triggers is to create a new routine that does not involve activities associated with substance use. Keeping busy and engaging in activities such as reading, writing, exercising, or going for a walk are all great alternatives to fill any free time that may be available.

Additionally, it is beneficial to set clear and healthy boundaries with individuals in your network who still use drugs or alcohol.

Psychological triggers (negative thoughts, beliefs)

Psychological triggers, also known as cognitive addiction triggers, are negative thoughts and beliefs that can lead to relapse in recovery. These psychological triggers can involve anything from self-doubt and fear of failure to feelings of worthlessness or shame. Psychological triggers often go hand-in-hand with emotional triggers as they stem from the exact root cause – unresolved trauma or stress.

Individuals in recovery need to be aware of their psychological triggers to manage them appropriately and reduce the risk of relapse due to these mental health issues.

Some examples of psychological addiction triggers include:

  • Feeling overwhelmed by the desire to escape from reality;
  • Identifying with negative beliefs about oneself, such as “I’m not good enough.”;
  • Judging oneself harshly for perceived failings or mistakes;
  • Blaming oneself for bad outcomes without considering other factors;
  • Negative thinking and ruminating on the past.

Psychological addiction triggers can be avoided by taking proactive steps to address the underlying issues causing them. This includes identifying and addressing unresolved trauma or stress and changing negative thoughts and beliefs about oneself.

Developing strong coping skills such as relaxation techniques and mindfulness can also help reduce stress while gradually reintroducing positive self-care activities will help bring balance and joy into our lives. Connecting with others in meaningful ways and increasing positive experiences is also essential.

The importance of Identifying Addiction Triggers in Recovery

Identifying addiction triggers is essential to recovery as it helps individuals better understand their cravings and thought patterns.

Knowing what can tempt you to use substances, or cause a relapse, helps prepare for challenges ahead and allows for proactive coping strategies.

Identifying and managing addiction triggers is also a vital component of relapse prevention. Once someone in recovery knows what triggers them, they are in a much better position to stay sober one day at a time.

Some tactics to identify addiction triggers include:

1. Journaling and self-reflection:

Journaling and self-reflection are essential tools for identifying and managing addiction triggers. Keeping a regular record of your experiences with triggers can help you learn from past instances and build more robust strategies for future recovery efforts. Self-reflection can help to identify negative thought patterns and underlying beliefs that may lead to relapse.

At the same time, journaling can provide a safe space to document emotions, thoughts, and feelings surrounding the trigger to gain better insight into the triggers themselves.

2. Keeping a trigger diary:

Keeping a trigger diary is an effective way for individuals to identify and anticipate triggers in their daily lives. When someone records detailed information on what, who, when, and where was the motivation before their use or craving, they can gain insight into how to reduce temptation or take preventive action.

A trigger diary can also help uncover underlying causes of use or cravings, including underlying emotions and environmental events that may lead to substance abuse. Furthermore, a trigger diary can allow people in recovery to recognize patterns in their behaviors and develop more effective coping strategies for future situations.

3. Identifying high-risk situations:

Identifying high-risk situations is essential in recognizing potential triggers and taking preventive action. High-risk situations can include places, people, and events that have previously resulted in substance abuse. For example, certain social gatherings in the past may have been associated with drinking, so by avoiding such circumstances, a person can prevent exposure to their addiction trigger.

By becoming aware of the environment or people that increase the risk of using or craving, a person can create boundaries to reduce temptation. Taking the time to identify and recognize high-risk situations can help individuals stay safer on their road to recovery.

4. Get a professional assessment by a therapist or addiction specialist:

A professional assessment or counseling by a therapist or addiction specialist is important in understanding addiction triggers. A specialist can provide the necessary tools to identify triggers and help develop a relapse prevention plan to manage and reduce the risk of relapse.

A professional assessment may include psychological testing, an interview, a medical evaluation, and a personal history and family dynamics discussion. Through this comprehensive assessment, therapists or specialists can help uncover underlying causes of substance abuse and create customized treatment plans tailored to individual needs that address those underlying causes.

This specialized attention can go a long way in helping people in recovery identify their triggers and learn how to prevent further addiction.

What to Do After Identifying your Triggers in Addiction?

As the old saying goes, “Knowing is half the battle.” When you know what your triggers are, you are halfway there. Of course, there is still half a battle left to fight!

Developing effective coping strategies is essential for managing addiction triggers. Here are some of the most beneficial approaches to consider:

1. Mindfulness and meditation:

Mindfulness and meditation are two of the most effective coping strategies for managing addiction triggers. Mindfulness is a practice that encourages focus on the present moment and can help to reduce stress, improve concentration and increase emotional regulation. Meditation is a practice of focusing on quieting the mind to cultivate clarity, serenity, and insight.

When combined, mindfulness and meditation can help individuals gain greater awareness of their thoughts, feelings, and behavior patterns, allowing them to address addiction triggers more effectively.

2. Exercise and physical activity:

Exercise and physical activity can be incredibly beneficial in managing addiction triggers. Exercise releases endorphins that produce a natural “high,” which can provide an alternative to drugs or alcohol. Furthermore, regular exercise can help reduce stress, increase self-confidence, and structure one’s daily routine.

It is essential to find physically and mentally engaging activities to help distract from addictive behaviors and keep individuals motivated in their recovery journey.

3. Social support:

Social support is a key factor in managing addiction triggers. Connecting with others who understand what you’re going through can provide the affirmation and reassurance necessary to stay on track. Having a strong network of family and friends to turn to during difficult times can be invaluable.

Additionally, feeling connected and supported gives individuals access to resources such as treatment programs or support group activities that can help them avoid addictive behaviors. For those living in remote areas, numerous online recovery communities are available for individuals to access the necessary social support they need.

4. Self-care:

Self-care is an essential part of managing addiction triggers. Taking the time to focus on physical and mental wellness can help individuals remain resilient in difficult times. Examples of self-care strategies include:

  • Engaging in activities like yoga and meditation, following a nutritious diet.
  • Practicing deep breathing exercises.
  • Staying hydrated.

Moreover, getting a good night’s rest, scheduling regular breaks throughout the day, and engaging in support groups are all ways in which individuals can prioritize their well-being and manage addiction triggers.

5. Finding healthy ways to cope with stress:

Stress is often a major trigger for substance abuse, so finding alternative coping mechanisms is essential for maintaining sobriety. Several strategies may work for different people in different situations, but some proven methods of dealing with stress include finding healthy hobbies and interests.

Engaging in physical activity such as jogging or going for a walk can be beneficial for releasing tension and clearing the mind. For those who prefer more creative outlets, it may be helpful to take art or music therapy to express emotions without relying on substances.

By developing a toolkit of healthy coping mechanisms, individuals can better navigate the challenges of recovery and build a more fulfilling life in sobriety.

What are the stages of an addiction relapse?

Understanding the stages of addiction relapse is imperative to recognize potential warning signs and get help before it’s too late. Addiction relapse is typically divided into three stages: emotional, mental, and physical. Awareness of these stages can help people recognize the signs of relapse early on and allow them to take appropriate steps to prevent it from occurring.

Below is a list of the three stages associated with an addiction relapse:

1. Emotional relapse:

A wide array of negative emotions, such as anger, sadness, and anxiety, characterizes the emotional relapse stage of addiction relapse. These feelings can lead to impulse behaviors against the individual’s recovery plan. It is important to recognize the signs of emotional relapse early so the necessary steps can be taken to prevent a total return to addiction. It is also essential for those struggling with an addiction to be aware of their emotions and reactions to anticipate potential relapse episodes and plan accordingly.

2. Mental relapse:

The mental relapse stage of addiction relapse is characterized by a return to specific thought patterns that can lead to a relapse. This includes thinking about using drugs or alcohol, fantasizing about the euphoric effects of an intoxicant, and planning how and when it could be used without getting caught. The mental part of relapse can be difficult to recognize at first and can often lead to physical relapse, so it is vital to recognize the signs early and take the necessary steps to prevent that from happening.

3. Physical relapse

Physical relapse is the final stage of addiction relapse, when an individual gives in to the urge to use drugs or alcohol. It usually manifests itself with drug-seeking behaviors, such as buying drugs or visiting places where they can be obtained. This can have severe consequences and a detrimental effect on an individual’s recovery progress. Awareness of the warning signs of potential physical relapse can help mitigate its impact.

Importance of a relapse prevention plan in recovery

Having a relapse prevention plan during recovery is essential for staying sober. Relapse prevention programs can be offered during and after addiction treatment.

During treatment, relapse prevention programs may be incorporated as part of the overall treatment plan. This can include education on triggers, coping mechanisms, and developing a plan for maintaining sobriety.

After treatment, relapse prevention programs are typically offered as ongoing support to help individuals maintain their recovery. This can include ongoing therapy, support groups, or participation in a 12-step program.

Our relapse prevention program in Orange County is specifically designed to provide education on the different stages of relapse and how to prevent them successfully. We are here to help you maximize your chances of sustaining lasting sobriety.

Before Addiction Triggers Become a Craving, Reach out For Help

You don’t have to walk your recovery journey alone. Your sponsor or mentor, sober friends, and supportive family members are available to help you along. They want to see you succeed.

If you find yourself experiencing a trigger, call someone who cares about you. Tell them what is going on. Ask them to remind you of all the reasons why you quit using drugs or alcohol. You may even request that they meet you somewhere until you feel like the situation has passed. And, if you don’t drink or take drugs, IT WILL PASS!

The good news about triggers is they lessen with time as you create new memories. Before long, you will evolve beyond thoughts that generate intense cravings. You may see something that reminds you of your addiction, but you will be indifferent to it.

What if a Trigger Leads to a Relapse?

If you are in recovery, please don’t lose hope in your ability to enjoy sobriety if you experience a relapse. Relapse happens – and believe it or not, it happens to many people who complete addiction treatment. It is nothing to be ashamed of.

However, it is essential to seek specialized care from our addiction treatment center promptly to avert the relapse from becoming a full-blown return to active addiction.

Learning to cope with the stresses of daily living without turning to alcohol or drugs is not easy for someone who has repeatedly used these substances. After months or years of chemical dependency, the brain must relearn how to live a sober lifestyle.

Our Relapse Prevention Program can help individuals who have experienced a relapse in their addiction recovery — take the first step and call us today at (800) 970- 3973 to start on your journey to sobriety!

Staying Sober

Coping With Cravings and Staying Sober

Cravings Are a Normal Part of the Recovery Process

If you have been using drugs or alcohol for an extended period of time – and you make the brave decision to get sober – you should expect to experience frequent (and random) cravings for awhile. This is completely normal.

Many people make the mistake of believing that once they leave an addiction treatment program, they have been cured. They view cravings as a sign of weakness. They believe there must be something wrong if they are having them. This is simply not true.

Cravings are part of the recovery process. Everybody has them at first. There is no way around them. They are going to happen. And when they do, you need to remain firm in your commitment to stay sober.

What are Drug and Alcohol Cravings?

Drugs and alcohol have a very profound effect on neurobiology. Cravings are the brain’s physiological response to the absence of the addictive substances it once relied on to function. In simple terms, they are the brain’s way of protesting loudly to early sobriety.

It takes several months for the brain’s reward circuitry to return to a place of normalcy after heavy, prolonged drug or alcohol use. In the meantime, the brain will send signals that it wants the chemically induced high it was dependent on for so long – the one you are no longer giving it.

Cravings are kind of like the brain throwing a temper tantrum and saying, “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!” You might experience very uncomfortable physical manifestations of this temper tantrum; including sweats, chills, anxiety, depression, or other symptoms. You will also experience obsessive and compulsive thoughts about your drug of choice. Your mind will try to manufacture reasons why it will be a good idea to drink alcohol or take drugs.

Although they can be quite intense and downright uncomfortable, you can successfully navigate cravings without giving in. You have to be stronger than the lies your brain tells you about getting high or drunk. You CAN do it. It is a skill that can be developed with commitment and action.

Five Activities That Can Help You Cope With Cravings

Having a relapse prevention plan in place greatly increases your chances of ongoing sobriety. This should include activities you can engage in when you are experiencing cravings.

Here are five suggestions to get you started:

#1 Go For a Walk

Taking a brisk 20-minute walk is a great way to cope with cravings when they hit. Moderate exercise releases feel-good chemicals (like Serotonin and Dopamine) in the brain, which help to calm feelings of anxiety and elevate mood. Walking is also a great distraction.

You don’t have to go to a park or wear fancy workout gear to experience the immediate benefits of walking. You can just walk out your front door and head in any direction. Walk for ten minutes and turn around and come home. Chances are, the craving will pass by the time you get back to the house.

#2 Call a Friend in Recovery

You don’t have to cope with cravings alone. Recovery is a “we thing,” not a “me thing!” Call someone who is living a sober lifestyle. Be open and talk with them about what is going on with you. It definitely helps ease uncomfortable feelings when you connect with someone who can relate to what you are going through.

If you are feeling particularly triggered, ask your recovery friend if they can meet you somewhere for coffee or a bite to eat. It will get you out of the house and in the company of someone who can help you stay sober until the craving passes.

#3 Attend a 12-Step Meeting

If you are working a 12-Step recovery program, going to a meeting is an awesome idea when it comes to dealing with cravings. Be sure and share openly in the meeting about what you are experiencing and ask others for solutions.

Everyone who enjoys a life of recovery once battled (and overcame) cravings for drugs or alcohol. They can share their experience, strength and hope with you to teach you how to can stay sober in the face of uncomfortable cravings.

#4 Meditate

Meditation is another effective way to overcome cravings. Many people are intimidated by meditation because they don’t like the idea of sitting alone quietly with the chattering of their own mind. Not to worry.

There are hundreds of guided meditations on YouTube that allow you to listen to someone else’s voice. This will distract you from the craving and allow you to transcend it. Plus, you will feel grounded, calm, and spiritually connected once the guided meditation is over.

Remember, Cravings Will Pass – Stay Sober No Matter What

Cravings and withdrawal symptoms are at their peak during detox. Generally, they get much less intense as time passes.

Before long, most sober people report that they no longer experience cravings at all – only fleeting thoughts about drug and alcohol use. However; in early recovery, cravings can strike at any time. You should be prepared for their occurrence.

The most important thing to remember about cravings is that they do pass – and usually relatively quickly. Sure, they are going to feel intense and uncomfortable. In fact, it may even feel like you are going to die if you don’t have the alcohol or drugs your body is craving. But, we promise you this: you WILL NOT die!

Cravings are temporary. But, getting high or drunk can have permanent consequences. You could overdose, end up in jail, or experience any number of negative outcomes if you decide to give in. Make the commitment now to stay sober NO MATTER WHAT! You will be glad you did.

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