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Recovery Tools: How to Identify Your Relapse Triggers

Relapse Triggers

Relapse Triggers

Recovery is a lifelong process. You hear this statement a lot but the truth in it rings loud and clear.

If you are in addiction recovery you must be able to identify your relapse triggers. If you do not know what may trigger a relapse, it is difficult to avoid relapse.

Keep reading for recovery tools that will help you avoid addiction relapse.

Have Hope

Before diving in, it is difficult to see numbers out there such as more than 85 percent of people relapse. However, addiction is a disease, like any disease, there is a chance of reoccurrence.

If you have experienced a drug relapse do not beat yourself up. Pick yourself up and win the battle again. Use this article and other tools available to you to help you be stronger and help you learn to guard against your triggers.

Understand Relapse Triggers

Relapse triggers are things that cue your brain to crave drugs because of your past substance abuse. For example, if you are feeling lonely you may seek out the company of people from your past who are still active drug users. This can lead to a relapse.

An important step in being able to identify your triggers is understanding what they are. It is a myth that you can permanently remove relapse triggers but knowing what they are will help you make an action plan to deal with them.


Don’t stop, but do know what HALT stands for. This phrase means:

  • H – Hungry
  • A – Angry
  • L – Lonely
  • T – Tired

All of these emotions can trigger a relapse. Each of these emotions has its own set of feelings and complexities to unpack.


Hunger is not just the feeling of needing a good meal. However, if you are hungry it can trigger different emotions that may be relapse triggers. So it is important to be sure to feed your body healthy meals that nourish it.

When discussing the soul part of hunger though, it is a hunger for more in your life. This type of hunger is about community.

Emotional needs such as attention, comfort, understanding, or companionship are all things that people hunger for, it’s what makes you human.

However, when you feel that void it is easy to seek fulfillment from people or things that are not healthy. In recovery, it is important, to surround yourself with healthy people who understand the battle you are fighting and can support you. However, be sure to allow them to set their own boundaries as well.


Have you ever just been angry at the world? Anger is a good emotion. It does many things including acting as a motivator for change.

The problem comes when you do not know how to handle anger constructively. When you handle anger in a destructive way, you turn it against yourself or others.

Harboring anger towards others hurts you more than it hurts the other person. This anger eventually turns to anger. Learning to let it go is about healing yourself.

There are various ways you can work to let go of feelings of resentment. Some are acknowledging resentment, identifying what is in your power, taking action where you have that power, letting go of anything outside your power, and making gratitude a daily habit.

Other ways you can deal with anger include taking a time out, practicing breathing, go for a walk, scream at the top of your lungs (this is perfect if you happen to work in a kitchen with a soundproof walk-in fridge or freezer).

In addition, take the time to figure out what is actually causing your anger. Are you actually angry at Sally for refolding the towel after you had already folded it? Or are you angry because it made you feel that the job you had done was not good enough?

Identifying the cause of the anger will help you be able to address it in healthy and purposeful ways.


Have you ever been lonely even though you’re surrounded by people? Loneliness is so much more than just not being physically alone. That is why when loneliness gets discussed it connects back to hunger and community, however, there are key differences.

It is one thing to have people that surround you. It is another to have people you can truly connect with and who make you feel less alone in the world. Sometimes this can be because you have not made those connections and are having a difficult time reaching out to make them.

If you are experiencing loneliness and worry that you are “crazy for feeling so lonely,” it may be a wise idea to reach out to your substance abuse counselor for tips and tricks on how to create meaningful connections.


Being physically tired can dangerous in many ways. Driving tired can lead to accidents and more. Pay attention to the choices you make when you’re tired.

When your brain is not fresh, you tend to make decisions you regret. In addition, to being physically tired, you can be emotionally and spiritually tired. This is the most dangerous type of tiredness for those in recovery.

When you are so overwhelmed and overloaded that you cannot deal with your emotions in healthy ways, it leads you towards dealing with your emotions in old familiar, unhealthy ways.

If you are physically tired you can get some sleep or take a nap. When you are spiritually or emotionally tired there is more needed to recover. Sometimes a nap can help you look at things from a better perspective.

However, you must practice self-care in those moments too. Take breaks to breathe, take vacations, smell the fresh air, write in your journal, practice mindfulness, or find other ways to take care of yourself and your emotions.

Build Your Toolbox

Begin building your toolbox today by identifying your relapse triggers and finding new and healthy ways to address them.

Serenity Grove is a dual diagnosis alcohol and drug treatment center. Their attentive, experienced, and friendly staff are on hand to help you through your addiction recovery journey.

Take the time to prioritize your health, contact Serenity Grove today for treatment options and questions.