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16 Mar Top Triggers for Men Who Relapse

Relapse is often a part of the recovery process for addiction, just like it is for other diseases like diabetes or asthma. Although setbacks are sometimes part of the process, men who are in recovery should not let this become an excuse to continue abusing substances after rehab. The truth is that relapse is usually brought on by environmental triggers, and these triggers can be avoided if a man will stay vigilant about living a clean life. Let’s take a look at the most common triggers for men who relapse, and how they can be avoided.

The 3 Parts of Your Past: People, Places and Things

The simple truth is that if you leave rehab and go back to spending time with the same people, in the same places, doing the same things as you did before, you’re going to end up right back where you started. A successful recovery requires giving up negative influences, but the sacrifice will be well worth it. Before you even leave rehab, make a commitment to leave behind parts of your life that aren’t going to work for you anymore, and then stick to it.

Self-Medicating a Co-Occurring Disorder

For over 50% of addicts, there is a concurrent mental disorder at the root of their addiction. Often times, addiction springs from a habit of self-medicating an issue like depression or anxiety with substance abuse. If this disorder goes untreated during rehab, it will act as a trigger for continued substance abuse when it crops up again at home. Participating in a recovery program that addresses any co-occurring disorders along with your addiction will give you the tools you need to manage both and stay clean.

A Lack of Support

The biggest factor for recovery success for an addict is the strength of their support system. A lack of support and the isolation and loneliness it brings is a huge trigger for relapse, and it’s one men are especially vulnerable to. Men are more likely to stop attending 12-step meetings and other aftercare activities than women are, because they think they can handle their recovery on their own. Connecting with others may feel uncomfortable at first, but it is an essential part of recovery. Engage with your family and friends that are healthy influences for you, and keep attending your meetings to surround yourself with the support you need. Challenges and success are going to come along in life, and you need people who will commiserate and celebrate with you if you want to stay clean.

Dating Too Soon

There are so many reasons why dating and sex within the first year or two of recovery is a bad idea, and this is one of the biggest triggers for men who relapse. Let’s face it, we’re not exactly equipped to make great decisions in the early days of recovery, and we’re especially vulnerable to picking a bad partner during this time. Even if you find someone great, one of two things is going to happen: Either everything is going to be wonderful, and your focus is going to shift from your recovery to your relationship. Or, everything is going to end badly, and the emotional stress could send you into a tailspin of relapse. Either way, romance is just a trigger in disguise at this point. So, steer clear of it, and focus on self-care and healing for a while.

Ben Harris is a Substance Use Disorder Counselor and began working in substance abuse treatment in 1987. During the past 25 years, he has worked in in-patient, residential, wilderness, intensive out-patient, and out-patient adolescent and adult programs. He has spent the majority of those years in management positions including executive director and national director responsible for the safe and effective operations of several programs. He has also served as president of the Utah Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors and on national committees with NAADAC and ICRC.

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