Common Triggers for Recovering People

addiction triggers

Completing drug rehabilitation is no small feat. You have to have the opportunity for rehab (a luxury not granted to every person), and the rehabilitation program itself has to be well-rounded. You need plenty of support from social networks, easy access to medical and psychological support at any time, and most importantly, a strong will to beat the addiction.

For so many, many people living with addiction, having one of these needs is so far-fetched, recovery isn’t feasible, at least, not in the moment. Like a marriage, the first year of sobriety is typically the most difficult – even for people whose former addictions may not have warranted rehab. Staying sober for an extended period of time, while absolutely essential on the road to sobriety, is daunting for even the most determined people in recovery.

This, though, is where the connections made in rehab and before addiction can really make a difference in the life of a recovering person. Having someone available for a quick chat on the phone when a person feels tempted to ease back into their own ways can really make a difference. Imagine, if you can, how many people would remain sober with more support. The number of people who relapse is staggering, and for many, too hard to face.

Fortunately, plenty of support, and the careful avoidance of triggers are both part of a transition back to a healthy and productive life. It’s important also to remember that relapse isn’t an affront to the formerly-addicted person, nor does it mean that someone who completed rehab and relapsed wasn’t being truthful in their feelings about their progress. For some, relapse and a return to rehab is just another step in making it out of the throes of addiction.

avoiding triggers in recoveryWith or without support, however, there is always the risk of relapse, and sometimes, the risks are enough to overwhelm a person, and send them back to where they started. Personal accountability is a must, though accountability on it’s own isn’t enough. As part of accounting for oneself, it’s important for a person who is still recovering to avoid triggers that may cause relapse. Specific triggers can sometimes be difficult to spot – many of them are in the mind of the recovering person. But whether the triggers are physical or mental, maintaining awareness of them is one of the best ways to make sure that they can’t reinstate an addiction.


Places are difficult to weather when you’re recovering from addiction. Many people spent copious amounts of time among addicted friends or relatives, and may not even be aware that the place is a trigger until they set foot in the space again. Regardless, if your presence in that place makes you want to go back to using, leave as soon as possible. An immediate departure is ideal, but asking someone in the home to call a ride for you is a responsible action to take, and will help you on your journey as you press on.


Places, though, are not the only concern. As easy a trigger as a place can be, it doesn’t pose the danger that a person can. Spending time with a person living with addiction can absolutely draw someone back into a dangerous lifestyle. People who were addicted to drugs while in codependent relationships may be especially vulnerable to relapse when the other party is around. Some people were friends with their dealers. Some people were married to them. Whatever the case may be, it is important to have a clear sense of who in your life was part of the problem, enabling your addiction, and who was trying to pull you away from clear and present danger. It may sound harsh, or difficult, but it is important to put as much space as possible between yourself and someone who may lead you down a path to a dangerous place.

Situations that Mirror Past Situations

Of course, it’s not just the people themselves who are to blame for being triggers – situations with which these people were involved while someone was addicted also play a role. Being in the middle of circumstances that drove a person to addiction in the first place is always a bad idea. If a person finds themselves in situation like this, it’s important to leave as soon as possible. Apologize if you need to, but don’t think that you’ve done anything but protect yourself, and your future.

Events with Drugs and Alcohol

This may sound like a no-brainer, but this is an easy way to relapse. So many addictions started with the simple intent of making a good time better. While this desire in and of itself is far from addictive behavior, temptation is a very real thing. Should you find yourself tempted to use drugs or alcohol again, even in the case of a social situation, leaving as soon as possible is always the best thing to do. Whether you can leave immediately or not, be sure to phone a friend or family member, and try to talk it out.

Caving to Cravings

Barring any situation where drugs and alcohol are readily available, one of the hallmarks of recovering is craving for the feelings that the drugs once brought. While you might not crave the drugs themselves, the feelings that the drugs brought are enough to conjure happy, good-feeling memories in the mind of someone on the path to recovery.

Cravings are understandable, and it is possible that caving to a craving may not send you back down the road to addiction. If you do satisfy a craving for drugs, however, it is important to get in touch with your doctor and therapist immediately – they will likely be able to stage an intervention, or find someone who can help you before you make another negative decision.

While there is no fool-proof way to stay away from drugs and alcohol, remaining proactive about your recovery by maintaining an awareness of triggers can often make the difference between full-blown relapse and clean, sober days.