Beware These 5 Major Relapse Triggers


Potential triggers can be anywhere for people with addiction. Events, people, places, sights or smells can trigger a person’s desire to use drugs or alcohol. Triggers squash progress made in treatment if a person is not careful and may help justify a relapse. Find out what the 5 major relapse triggers are and how to cope when it happens.


Top 5 Triggers

The following 5 triggers can occur anytime and anyplace. They might include:


  • Old places and friends. When a person uses drugs or alcohol, it is typically in a certain space with certain people. Returning home from treatment is difficult but old friends may want to check in and find out how it went. If old friends are still drinking or using drugs, it is better to spend free time with new friends in recovery or old friends who are sober. Avoiding relapse temptation is part of the lifelong process of recovery.
  • Jusifications or “just this once.” It may seem like a small thing, easy to justify as a one-off occurrence. It helps to remember alcoholism is a disease which progresses over time. One drink can lead to another or a whole lot more if a person is not careful. Simply having the drug or alcohol in hand can trigger the urge to become intoxicated or high which can turn into a binge session which may happen over and over again until a full blown relapse has occurred.
  • Toxic relationships. A romantic relationship, friendship, roommate relationship or other type of relationship may make a person feel angry, jealous, insecure, depressed or irritable. It can trigger a person to want to use drugs or alcohol to cope as a way to calm down. Surrounding oneself with positive, supportive people can go a long way to helping maintain balance and stability in recovery.
  • Unhealthy choices. Camping out in front of the TV, drinking tons of coffee and not sleeping well can make it harder to stay clean and sober. Activities like these do not provide positive structure or  help maintain good physical or mental health. Making good choices can help set positive recovery goals and protect a person from relapse.
  • High pressure situations. Enrolling in college, working lots of hours or investing time in rebuilding family relationships are excellent ways to be healthy in recovery. It may feel like a lot of pressure but it does not necessarily lead to relapse. A balanced life is one that is productive but healthy with a mix of work, social, rest and family time.



Don’t let triggers ruin the hard work of treatment and recovery. It is possible to overcome triggers with positive, healthy life choices. Finding the right support is crucial to maintaining long-term sobriety.


If you or a loved one are struggling with environmental triggers and is at risk of relapse, call The Villa. We have resources and information available to help you stay clean and sober following addiction.