Seven Triggers That Lead to Drug and Alcohol Relapse

Seven Triggers That Lead to Drug and Alcohol Relapse

For addicts, the road to recovery is extremely difficult, but after one overcomes their addiction? The battle is not over yet. Even after an addict is sober, addicts will still run the risk of a relapse – especially if they are not aware of the common triggers. By knowing the possible triggers, addicts can successfully avoid them and stay sober for the rest of their lives.


HALT is a common acronym used in the world of addiction, and it represents the four relapse triggers that are the most common:

  • Hunger
  • Anger
  • Loneliness
  • Tiredness

If you or a loved one show any of these triggers during recovery, an increased risk of relapse is almost guaranteed. Thus, it is vital to be on the lookout for these potential warning signs.

Uncontrolled Emotions

The emotions ‘anger’ or ‘loneliness’ do not need to be present to trigger drug and/or alcohol relapse. Any person who is recently sober will find that is difficult to manage their emotions as they did before addiction. Instead of relying on the drugs and/or alcohol to do the job for them, they will have to attempt to do so themselves which can lead to unstable emotions. Unfortunately, when someone’s emotions become unstable, they are more likely to relapse as a way to deal with them.


Although similar to anger, irritation is slightly different but can be just as much of a warning sign as a possible trigger for relapse. If a loved one is on the road to recovery, look out to see whether they are easily irritated and get angry with others. If this is the case, they may be covering up other emotions or the irritation might just be their attempt to control the situation.

Loss of Commitment

Unfortunately, sometimes people will start out strong in their recovery program and over time simply lose their commitment to it. When someone gets closer to relapse, they will usually start coming up with excuses to skip meetings or leave treatment early. For true recovery, lifetime commitment is mandatory.

Old Habits

Sometimes the culprit in triggering relapse is returning to old habits. Even something as simple as hanging out with old friends you used to drink or do drugs with can trigger a relapse. The same is true of going to locations where you used to use drugs or alcohol. The familiar environment will bring back old habits.


Some people start a recovery program and feel instantly confident. While this is good, those who are overconfident and truly believe that they will never use again may not be prepared enough to fight to stay sober.

High Expectations of Others

While recovering drug or alcohol users frequently have low expectations of themselves, a possible trigger is having expectations of others that are too high. If they feel like this, it will bring on pain and disappointment, leading to some of the emotional triggers mentioned above. It may also be hard for a recovering person to realize that their loved ones won’t instantly forgive them for past mistakes.

Realizing these triggers and more are vital to ensuring an addict stays on the road to recovery. If you are a former addict or you know a loved one that is trying to overcome their addiction, please, look out for these triggers. Without question, it could mean the difference between a successful recovery and relapse.


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