Building a life of sobriety and supporting your mental health can be challenging. Don’t think you’re doing it wrong when it begins to feel hard. More people than not (40-60%) fall into a state of relapse within one year of seeking treatment for substance use disorder.1 Even with a strong recovery plan and support from a Dana Point treatment center, it’s possible for triggers to create red flags in addiction recovery. By recognizing these personal challenges, you’ll be better prepared to seek personalized treatment or support a loved one who’s battling drug or alcohol dependency.
What Causes Relapse?
The steps toward drug or alcohol relapse don’t always look the same for each person battling a substance use disorder. The people, places, or life events that serve as triggers are different for each individual.
While each person has their own struggle with reaching a mental and emotional balance that can push them to find comfort in illicit drugs, there are certain red flags to look out for in addiction recovery. From a stressful work environment to financial challenges, the circumstances that create anxiety or spark feelings of depression often initiate relapse. Below are the actions or feelings often associated with drug or alcohol relapse.
Triggers For Relapse: Common Red Flags in Addiction Recovery
It can be challenging for those who do not battle substance use disorder to understand the reliance on drugs or alcohol to cope with challenging situations. At Ocean Hills Recovery Drug and Alcohol Treatment Center, we’ve trained our drug specialists to recognize the red flags in addiction recovery that may trigger a relapse.
Expectation of Control
Many who battle substance use disorder often expect life’s discomforts to fade away with sobriety. That is not the case. The unrealistic expectation that struggles disappear with treatment can push patients back into the realm of addiction. Working with a trusted counselor and understanding what to expect while building a life of sobriety will increase the likelihood of reaching long-term sobriety successfully.
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Following treatment, returning to the workforce, or simply re-engaging with family and friends can create extreme stress. If you or your loved one have not built proper coping mechanisms, the tendency to rely on drugs or alcohol can quickly return. Increased stress can develop from work, job loss, relational changes, financial woes, loneliness, or something as simple as fatigue. It’s helpful to practice various coping mechanisms throughout treatment so you’re prepared for those stressful moments and can respond without stepping into relapse.
Distance From Treatment or Support
If you’re feeling disinterested in your support group or disengaged from treatment, relapse may be looming. Group meetings and 12-step programs help hold substance use disorder patients accountable to themselves. Skipping these meetings can lead to other missteps that can derail your recovery. We recommend finding a partner in the group to help keep you accountable and stay on track for recovery.
Isolation in Recovery
Pulling away from loved ones and removing yourself from hobbies can be a relapse red flag. Being alone or feeling lonely is often a gateway to seeking comfort in substance use. Find activities, events, and groups that interest you to maintain a social connection with others. Avoid long periods without connecting with friends, even if it’s just through a phone conversation.
Reuniting With Friends Who Use Drugs
A false sense of confidence can cause you to believe you’re able to socialize with old friends who use drugs or drink alcohol. You may plan to avoid any invitation to use. But recreating an atmosphere where drugs and alcohol were a great comfort can be hard to resist. Concentrate on building new social circles with those who support your new lifestyle.
Recognize Red Flags in Addiction Recovery
It’s important to understand that relapse does not equal failure. You’re most at risk of returning to harmful behaviors within the first 90 days of recovery.2 Typically, relapse occurs as a coping mechanism in response to stressful situations or emotional challenges. Here’s what to do if your loved one does relapse.
Get Help and Prevent Relapse
Ocean Hills Recovery concentrates on your individual needs when building a treatment plan to help you avoid relapse. We’ve trained our counselors and medical team to recognize red flags in addiction recovery. We’ll build a solid foundation of coping skills and help you understand your triggers, so you’re best prepared to create a fulfilling life of sobriety. Contact the Ocean Hills Recovery team today to build a personalized treatment plan and reduce the risk of relapse.
About the author:
Nicole earned her doctoral degree in Psychology with an emphasis on marriage and family therapy at California School of Professional Psychology. Her doctoral thesis was a grounded theory study exploring the role of alienation and connectedness in the life course of addiction. She specializes in treating addiction and trauma. She is certified in DBT and EMDR, two of the most highly regarded evidence-based methods in psychotherapy. Dr. Doss is a strong LGBT advocate and provides open and affirming support to her LGBT clients.
Dr. Doss’s earlier education included graduating cum laude from the University of California, Irvine in June of 2007 with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. While there, she received honors recognition by Psi Chi and Golden Key honor societies.
Nicole has been working with alcoholics and addicts in our California drug and alcohol rehab center as an advisor and counselor for many years. She is passionate about providing quality counseling and care to her clients. Her main focus is on integrating the 12 Step and disease models of addiction with experiential therapeutic theory. She is married to Greg; they have two adorable sons together and an energetic yellow Labrador Retriever.