If you were addicted but are now in recovery, you should be looking out for those things that could trigger a relapse. This will mean avoiding boredom, complacency, anger, fatigue, and loneliness. However, it is important to realise that certain situations in life can also weaken your resolve. It is a good idea to be ready for situations that could make you susceptible to a relapse, just so that you can be strong and avoid the slippery slope back to addiction.
It will come as no big surprise that traumatic events can wreak havoc with emotions, and many recovering addicts have fallen off the wagon when faced with a difficult situation. Although many recovering addicts do react quite well to tragic events in their lives because they have experience of moving through tough times, some will find that these bad times are too much to bear and will seek solace in the substance to which they were once addicted.
Major events such as the death of a loved one, a diagnosis of a serious illness, or a catastrophic incident such as a car accident or house fire, can all trigger a slip back down the abyss of addiction.
Just as bad times can trigger a relapse, conversely, so too can good times. Most recovering addicts are, or should be, on the lookout for triggers and will be wary when things are not going their way. Nevertheless, when they are having a good time, they may not be ready for the possibility of a slip. When things are going well, most people let their defences down and can become complacent about their recovery. They assume that because they are doing well, they do not need to focus too much on staying sober. They think that because they are not having the same problems that other recovering addicts are having or are going through that they are in control of their lives and are perfectly fine. Nonetheless, if you become complacent about your recovery, you may start to skip support meetings or sessions with your counsellor and, when this happens, you may start thinking that you could easily drink one glass or take some mood-altering medication without any consequences – this is rarely the case.
Holidays are often a time when recovering addicts fall off the wagon. They are away from familiar surroundings and do not have access to their support groups or counsellor. The very nature of a holiday is to rest and relax away from the stresses of everyday life. Most people will eat and drink more than they usually do while on holiday but, for a recovering addict, this relaxed atmosphere can be dangerous. In the early days of recovery, it is better to choose holidays where drink does not feature heavily. Activity-laden holidays would probably be a better choice as this would mean you will be kept busy during the day and be fit for bed early each night. You can certainly enjoy this type of holiday with your loved ones and there will be less temptation than there would otherwise be if you spent your time sitting by the pool for two weeks watching other holidaymakers enjoying cocktails.
Change can lead to anxiety, which can lead to a relapse. If you are changing jobs, starting a new relationship, or moving home, you may begin to feel stressed out or anxious, and this will increase your risk of relapse. Be aware of the dangers and speak to your counsellor or fellow recovering addicts at a support group. If you can learn how to deal with change, you will be able to avoid the stresses that this inevitably brings and, therefore, avoid a slip.