Addiction Recovery & Relapsing

The 10 most common reasons for relapsing into addiction

Unfortunately, we at Houghton House know that recovering from an addiction to drugs or alcohol has a high likelihood of relapse. Studies show that 40-60% of individuals will suffer a relapse within a month of exiting an inpatient treatment center, and up to 85% risk relapsing within the first year.

It is essential for those who are fighting an addiction to alcohol or other substances to recognize the danger of this vulnerability, be aware of any personal triggers they might have, and develop healthy ways to deal with those triggers and their emotions. With knowledge of the common causes of relapse, recovering persons can be better prepared for combatting their addiction and preserving their sobriety.

 relapsing into addiction

The following are 10 common triggers for relapsing into addiction.

Withdrawal Issues

Relapse among individuals attempting to end their substance use is common due to withdrawal symptoms and the prolonged effects of post-acute withdrawal, which may last between 6 to 18 months. The severity of withdrawal depends on multiple factors, such as type of substance, quantity consumed, frequency of use, duration of use, etc. Physical withdrawal symptoms can include hot and cold sweats, nausea, restlessness, diarrhea, severe muscle aches, and insomnia. For certain substances including alcohol and benzodiazepines like Xanax and Ativan, the process can be deadly or result in seizure without proper medical attention. In order to reduce the risk of serious complications associated with detoxing from drugs and alcohol, individuals should seek out a medical detox facility with options for medically assisted treatments.

The 10 most common reasons for relapsing into addiction

The mental health of the individual

Substance dependence alone is not enough, there are often other issues that cause or worsen the addiction. If a patient can receive the right alcohol and drug treatment, Houghton House will therapeutic assistance and psychiatry will be employed to examine underlying mental health dilemmas such as depression, anxiety, mania, post-traumatic distress, or personality conditions. Emphasis must be placed upon long-term care to ensure continuous recovery from these addictions and mental ailments. Turning to alcohol or drugs for coping is an instinctual response for those struggling with addiction. Still, with proper guidance from medical professionals, such as through prescribed psychotropic medicines, individuals can live with their condition in a healthy way.

The people around the addict

An essential part of the recovery process is setting healthy boundaries with acquaintances and family that don’t have respect for one’s sobriety. Being around people who are engaging in substance use can be a trigger for relapse and avoiding these situations is advised. Once a person has built a stable foundation in their recovery, they may be able to attend social gatherings where others are drinking without being stimulated to relapse; however, it will take much time and effort to reach this stage. To ensure safety while at gatherings with those who are using alcohol or drugs, having a plan and bringing along a sober support and accountability partner can be helpful.


Places such as bars, liquor stores, wineries, strip clubs, casinos, or parties are clearly not suitable for people who are recovering from an alcohol or drug addiction. Other environments may be triggering too. Even if a person was never using in a particular setting, the effects of addiction can cause discomfort without consciously understanding why. It is important to be aware and take note of what your surroundings could trigger. If a person’s home was somewhere they used substances frequently then it can be particularly difficult to avoid this place and they should consider getting new furniture or rearranging their space in order to create an environment that promotes recovery instead of illicit activity. Sober Homes can also prove beneficial in such cases.

Triggers to keep in mind

Our environment is full of potential triggers we must be aware of. People, places and things can all have an effect in leading us toward the possibility of a relapse. It’s important to take note of those minuscule elements that may slip through our conscious minds and bring forth cravings. For example, sounds like glass clinking or popping bottles, credit cards and straws for a cocaine addict, pill bottles or syringes for any drug addict, etc. Though avoidance is impossible in today’s world, mindfulness can help you better understand why you’re feeling certain cravings and allow you to better cope with them without needing to turn to alcohol or drugs.

Self-care is Critical

Maintaining proper self-care is absolutely essential to making progress in addiction recovery. Taking care of yourself sends a powerful signal that you are committed to your well-being and reduces the chances of a relapse. Eating a nutritious, nutrient-rich diet and managing weight gain through healthy habits can help prevent feelings of depression or cravings for substances. Similarly, good sleep hygiene practices can reduce irritability, stress, and low mood which could trigger a substance use episode. Dedicating time to self-care activities such as exercise, meditation, or whatever helps you feel mentally healthy is fundamental for successful long-term addiction recovery.

Common reasons for relapsing into addiction Our environment is full of potential triggers we must be aware of

The importance of relationships and intimacy

It is often encouraged for individuals who are newly in recovery to avoid getting into an intimate relationship for several months, or even a year, until they can become more stable in their sobriety. This is because people may try to fill the void with an intimate partner, and relationships often involve alcohol or drug use. Additionally, the emotions that arise from relationships (even those that existed prior to recovery) may be challenging to cope with while newly sober. Further, having sober sex can be very triggering as individuals who are new to sobriety may not have experienced it before. Therefore, caution should be taken when navigating the dating scene in recovery due to potential insecurity, discomfort, and possible arguments.

Overconfidence and Pride

Individuals who are new to sobriety commonly feel a pink cloud, as if no substance use will ever cross their minds again. While this is a wonderful feeling, it is essential to remember that a relapse is always an option. One wrong thought or decision could easily lead down a dangerous path. Of course, it is important to be confident in your recovery journey, but do not let it blind you and make you complacent. You must still adhere to the treatment guidelines and consistently engage in activities that assist your sobriety; avoid people and situations that could jeopardize it.

Isolation and boredom

Boredom and isolation are two of the most typical causes of relapse in early recovery. Individuals new to sobriety can find themselves with way too much time on their hands, and this provides a dangerous opportunity to succumb to negative thoughts and emotions. It’s essential to engage in healthy activities such as fitness classes, cooking nutritious meals with someone close, therapy groups, or learning and exploring new hobbies. That being said, one should also be careful not to do an excessive amount of activities as a way of avoiding reality.

Individuals who are new to sobriety commonly feel a pink cloud, as if no substance use will ever cross their minds again. While this is a wonderful feeling, it is essential to remember that a relapse is always an option.

Emotions that are uncomfortable

In active addiction, you likely turned to alcohol or drugs whenever you felt uncomfortable emotions. Nobody wants to experience such feelings, but they are a normal part of being human. What is not healthy is using substances to try and subdue them, instead of learning how to be mindful and accept them. As part of recovery, it’s important to know how to be aware of emotions, welcome them in, feel them properly and cope with them – rather than always trying to avoid them.

Maintaining sobriety for the long term is critical to successful recovery. Sadly, only 15% of people can keep sober for their first year. However, with greater lengths of time in sobriety come greater chances for sustaining it. After that first milestone of staying sober for a year, the likelihood of maintaining sobriety skyrockets – so don’t be fooled into thinking that a 28-day inpatient treatment program at Houghton House would constitute a complete cure. It’s highly advised to seek out outpatient help and utilize additional support such as sober coaching and companionship. Additionally, engage in holistic practices and find yourself a community of people who want to see you succeed!

Open chat
How Can We Help You?
Hello! How can we help you ?