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3 Relapse Triggers That Everyone Has

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Any addiction is hard to quit, from drug addictions to smoking cigarettes.  If you are on this blog, chances are you were a heroin addict. People like me have tried to quit using heroin time and time again, for years and years.  Everyone recovers in their own way. Yet, there is one thing that all addicts must do in order to be successful in recovery.  Identify the triggers that cause you to relapse. Once you know what your main relapse triggers are, you can work on preventing a potential relapse.

Personally, when I first started using heroin.  I never thought for a second that I would not be able to quit.  As you know, heroin use quickly escalates.  You start using every so often, gradually increasing to a weekend warrior, to daily use, to multiple times daily.  By then you are a full-blown heroin addict watching your life crumble before your very eyes.  Yet, the only thing that you are worried about is getting your next fix.  Heroin addiction takes users to the very bottom without us even realizing what is going on.

Let me rephrase, we realize what is going on. It just doesn’t matter to us.  We love heroin and hate it, all at the same time.

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Identifying Your Relapse Triggers

If you have ever been to rehab or any type of drug program, you probably know this already.  You are taught to identify both your relapse triggers and coping skills.  That being said, we are going to start with relapse triggers.  When it comes to heroin addiction, there are 3 main triggers that all drug users have in common.


This sounds ridiculous to some people but, it is the absolute truth.  In my first year of recovery, boredom was a major issue for me.  If an addict early in recovery has one second to think about stuff, her mind starts to wonder.  As heroin addicts, there is one thing that our mind wanders to automatically.  Using heroin.

Boredom - Relapse Triggers

If you read about me, you know that I transitioned to methadone in jail while pregnant.  When I was first taken to the hospital, I had two prison guards with me.  I was laying in a hospital bed constantly vomiting and had severe stomach pain.  I had the runs, hot and cold flashes, all of the typical withdrawal symptoms.  The guards and I were waiting for my urine test results to come back to “verify” that I was pregnant and that there was heroin in my system.  The male guard would look at me in disgust but, he was curious.

He asked me why I did this to myself.  Since I have been incarcerated numerous times, why didn’t I just stay clean?  Why would I relapse?

My answer was I get bored.  The look on his face was astonishment. He told me to get a job, work, take a nap.  How could boredom cause you to relapse?  There are ways to keep yourself busy.

I had to explain to him that getting and using heroin was a non-stop job.  You thought about it and put in work to get it 24/7.  There was no stopping, no slowing down.  If you are clean and you have a moment to sit down and take a breath.  Instantly, your mind wanders to heroin. It’s like your brain and body are so used to having heroin that you don’t know how to function without it.  You honestly do not know what else to do with yourself.

It’s not like he understood. He just shook his head in disbelief.  People that are not addicts will never understand how our mind works.  It is the sad truth.  At least, there are some people such as counselors or therapists who try to understand how addicts think.  Although, if you have not been in our shoes, you will never truly get it.

Even though the prison guard did not understand what I meant.  It gave me a lot to think about.  Hell, after a week at the hospital I was back in jail so it’s not like I did not have time to think.  That week was a blur in and out of sleep, vomiting, doctors waking me up at all hours.  A guard by my side ALL the time.  When my methadone dose was finally stable and I could function.  Truthfully, I was ready to go back to the slammer.  I have been there countless times.  Most of the girls there, I knew or ran with on the street.

When I got out of jail, the first year was the hardest.  I did have a full-time job, I had a new baby.  At the time, we just got a new apartment but I just couldn’t stay busy 100% of the time.  I thought about relapsing constantly.  I thought about taking benzos with my methadone. There are plenty of people who get high by doing that.  When my baby was napping and I sat down. Bam! Automatically, heroin would enter my thoughts.

Instead, I picked up some extra shifts at work and got pets.  With work, a new baby, a new house, 2 new ducks, I was able to stay completely busy.  I was moving until the moment I laid my head down to sleep.  Guess what?  It really did work.  I did not have any time to spare.  A moment to be bored and think about heroin or other drugs.  It’s not necessarily that I was bored with my life.  The way I was living was different from what I was accustomed to.  For me, not living a fast lifestyle was boring.

Although, you must remember.  Humans are animals of habit.  We always adapt to our environment.  If you settle down and don’t live the crazy life anymore.  You will eventually adapt to your new lifestyle.  In time, it will not seem boring to you anymore.  Actually, in a few years, you will begin to wonder how you ever thought this could be boring.  Kids alone keep you busy.  You will wish you had a moment to catch your breath and just relax.

After the first year and seeing the improvement in my life. Everything that I was able to accomplish.  I couldn’t even imagine relapsing. Giving up everything that I honestly worked so damn hard for.

Don’t let your mind wander and boredom take control!  Boredom truly is one of the biggest relapse triggers for many of us!

Triggers - Money


2.  Money

This is a no brainer.  Once you get your hands on some money, you want to buy dope.  That’s all we did before.  In early recovery, most people are most likely completely broke.  One reason we got clean was because our life was spiraling out of control.  In rehab and institutions, it’s easy to stay clean.  Once we hit the streets. Watch out!

The earlier you are in your recovery, the harder it is to fight the relapse triggers.  Especially when you get some cash in your pocket.  I mean, you are still accustomed to spending all of your money on drugs so, the first time you get money, buying dope will be your first thought.

You have a job.  The money starts to stack up.  You actually have a decent little savings.  What is going to hurt to spend a few bucks?  I’ve been clean for months now, I can get high just this once.  NO!

Money is a trigger.  We are accustomed to spending every cent we have on our addiction.  Not doing that is just out of the ordinary.

So, how do you fix it?

Honestly, you have to learn yourself.  If you have someone hold money for you, it might work.  Yet, it could cause resentment towards the person when you want money and they won’t give it to you.  Think about your baby, think about everything he/she needs.  You have to concentrate on your future.

If you are serious about recovery, this is an easy trigger to get past.  There are so many things that you need money for other than drugs.  Put it out of your mind.  Again, stay busy.  Once, you see how easy it is to save.  You will continue doing it.

Many people trade one addiction for another.  Don’t go from heroin addiction to another negative addiction.  Make your addiction your new life, achieving your goals.

Make a list of how much money you need to save to do this or for something you want.  Create an emergency fund for well, emergencies. Start a saving’s account for your baby.  There are millions of positive things you can do with your money.

Once you get so far, you will never look back.  Now, you are accomplishing your goals!  Don’t let money be one of your relapse triggers.

3.  People

People - Relapse Triggers

People are another major trigger for man people in recovery.  Automatically you think of people that are actively using drugs but, you would be surprised at all the people that can easily trigger a person in recovery to relapse.  There are many different people that will be considered relapse triggers.

  • Old acquaintances that you got high with
  • People you don’t like, the irritation causes you to want to use
  • Family constantly nagging you and not trusting you.  Always bringing up the hurt you have caused and damage that you have done.
  • New people in recovery.  They are very vulnerable and can easily relapse taking you with them.
  • Another former heroin addict.  Even if you both been in recovery for years, two recovering addicts can prey off of each other.  It’s sad but true.  Misery loves company.
  • Wanting to fit in with a clique.  People start using just so they can associate with a specific group of people.

Truth be told.  We need to change the people we associate with.  For instance, while in rehab you are told to change people, places, and things.  Many clients will argue saying, “I can’t change where I come from or my friends.  They are my boys.  We’ve been friends forever”. Well, let’s get real for a moment.  If you aren’t using dope or going to cop or committing crimes to get money.  Do you still think your “partner in crime” will be your bestie?  A true friend would support you in recovery.  Therapists say these things for a reason.  Yes, it is hard to change the people, places, and things.  Yet, sometimes you have to get away from certain people and places.

We can use anyone to justify our using.  It’s something that comes naturally.  Although, the longer you are clean, the easier it gets to cope. You aren’t going to want to hang around people who are still using.  You will learn not to let the little things bother you.  Every time you get upset, mad, or something devastating happens.  You will be level-headed and not jump the gun and go use dope.  All the same, you must know what your coping skills are.  If you know how to cope other than using dope.  Then, you can handle anything!

The bottom line is simple.  Learn to cope without using dope.  Ha, that rhymes. The longer you are sober, the easier it gets.  Coping with situations without using drugs will start to come naturally over time.  Don’t stop before the miracle begins to happen.  As addicts, we want instant gratification.  It doesn’t work like that.  You have to work for it.  Work for your success.  Think hard about your relapse triggers.  Are these 3 triggers one of yours?  If so, you are already on the right path being able to identify what your triggers are.

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I am NOT a licensed therapist. For immediate help call the Substance Abuse Mental Health Service Adminstration’s 1-800-662-HELP. It's a free 24/7 service for ppl facing mental +/or substance use disorders.Or you can use the online treatment locator HERE.

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