It’s quite normal for addicts to relapse at least once while they’re in recovery. It can be hard to completely rid oneself of temptation before they get clean for the last time. The emotional and physical indications, which make us feel like having the substances we put in place for good, are a long-standing obstacle to recovery. These indications are mostly known as triggers and for people, they can be expressed differently.

Identifying Triggers 

It is not easy to identify a trigger since sometimes it can not have a direct somatic effect on your body (a physical effect). There are however several common symptoms caused by a trigger for addiction. These symptoms are divided into physical and psychological categories and knowledge of them can help protect your recovery.

Physical Symptoms of Triggers 

  • Tension through your body
  • Accelerated heart rate
  • Profuse sweating
  • Shakiness

Psychological Symptoms of Triggers

  • You may have more ideas on how well you want to cope with substances.
  • You used to remember times in the past.
  • You are considering how to get substances.
  • Experiencing feelings that you need substances to live

Prevention of Triggers

Amongst the most effective methods to deter relapse is the detection and analysis of your specific relapse causes. And although some common relapse triggers are obvious, some are not as obvious.

Types of Triggers

HALT (Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired)

The HALT term is used to define high-risk rehabilitation conditions. If your priority is recovery, then you will need to also prioritize avoiding getting too hungry, angry, lonely, or tired. This can involve food planning, sleeping and attending support groups.


Potentially negative thoughts sometimes lead people to drugs or alcohol and cause them to choose substances quickly in an effort to cope. Nevertheless, you cannot always feel sorry, wrathful, angry or alone. It is natural and an important aspect of rest and existence to have these feelings, but they are not easy to deal with. Effective recovery will be important as we learn how to deal with our feelings when they emerge without drugs and alcohol.


Stress can have serious consequences on mental and physical health. Finances, family/friend issues, relationships, jobs, and otherworldly responsibilities can cause a lot of stress in a person’s life. If a person gets stressed, they’ll seek out ways of dealing with it. For a former addict, they may be inclined to fall back into substance abuse. The main thing is to be proactive in avoiding stress and to be conscious of what causes you stress.

Mental or physical illness

Drug or alcohol relapses may be triggered by depression, anxiety, or any other underlying mental health disorders. Mental illnesses can come about prior to substance abuse or it can be worsened through substance abuse. Drugs and alcohol can alter the mind and trigger dependence and relapse. Treat yourself for any underlying mental illness and keep up with your mental health to make sure old behavior patterns do not come back.

Isolation from the society

A lack of communication may result in relational isolation and loneliness in a recovering addict. The more disconnected you are, the harder it is to seek support when you need it most. It becomes easier to fall into self-pity and then relapse. Consider it a goal in rehabilitation to create a strong network of supportive individuals who encourage sobriety.


A general conception, but an often overlooked recommendation is that dating in the first year of recovery should be avoided. If a relationship ends, a person may experience some depression and this could cause them to relapse. If a relationship turns toxic, this could also trigger the same thing.

Remember why it is important to avoid early recovery relationships; if you are sober for more than a year, you need to make sure you worked on yourself long enough so you can have a healthy, stable relationship with someone.

Getting a promotion or new job

When it comes to triggers for relapse, positive life events are often overlooked. A raise or new job may contribute to a celebrating impulse. You may get the wrong idea to enjoy a substance ‘just once’. This kind of mindset can be dangerous and can easily cause someone to fall back into their old habits.

Past Events/Individuals/Places That Recall Substance Abuse

Another thing that causes relapse is environmental stimuli. This is basically something that reminds the person of their past substance abuse habits. This can be a person, place, or thing that they correlate with substance abuse. A parking lot they used to use drugs in secret and a person that encouraged drinking too much are good examples of this. Even places where substances are present like bars, nightclubs, parties, shady parts of town, etc. can all be considered triggers.

Managing your triggers

The easiest way of managing triggers is first to know what they are. When you are able to understand what your triggers are, you can better avoid them. Next is to get a set of skills that can help fight against these triggers. This way a former addict can avoid becoming overwhelmed and stay strong in their sobriety. This can be done by finding healthy coping mechanisms through therapy or counseling. Below are some good examples of coping that you can use in order to fight back against any triggers that may cause a relapse.

Take part in some productive practices.

You may read a book, clean the house, go for a walk, play a video game; as long as the activity keeps your mind or body active it could help against triggers.

Find someone you feel comfortable talking to.

As is often suggested in rehabilitation, communicating with a counselor, advisor, loved one or acquaintance will help support sobriety, resolve issues, and avoid triggers in the future.

Challenge your ideas and change them.

We often only remember what is good about our previous use when a trigger occurs; changing our way of thinking about this usage may help us change our thoughts and help us to transcend a trigger.

Any plan or collection of procedures will eliminate or handle any causes in your rehabilitation. It is advised that you build a collection of these techniques because there are many resources at your fingertips to overcome stimuli and avoid reappearances.

Talk to Someone Who’s Been There. Talk to Someone Who Can Help. Scottsdale Recovery Center® holds the highest accreditation (Joint Commission) and is Arizona’s premier rehab facility since 2009. Call 602-346-9142.