Relapse Prevention Warning Signs & Triggers North Jersey Recovery Center - A man has relapsed due to ignoring the relapse presentation warning signs and triggers

Relapse Prevention Warning Signs & Triggers

Last Updated: Oct 1st 2020

Reviewed by njrc

Relapse – One of the Biggest Fears of a Person in Recovery

One of the biggest fears of every person in recovery is relapsing. This is why it is so important to be aware of any relapse prevention warning signs.

Recovery from addiction usually comes with a lot of different challenges.

Sobriety is often described as a journey because of the length of time to get to a safe and healthy place.

Addiction is a war that lasts a lifetime.

Battling addiction while dealing with the day-to-day challenges that come with life is extremely tasking.

Those in recovery agree that there are so many different relapse prevention warning signs and triggers that may cause a relapse.

Avoiding these triggers and thriving is very difficult but still possible.

To relapse simply means to slip back into a former state.

In this case, a relapse means moving back into drug use and abuse.

One important thing to note is that a decline can happen at any time.

In some cases, a relapse may be a one-time thing only.

In other cases, a relapse may lead to several further declines and, eventually, back to addiction.

What determines whether relapse is a one-time thing or if it is not is how it is managed.

Persons in recovery need to be able to recognize their possible relapse prevention warning signs and triggers and have a relapse plan in place to handle them.


In most cases, triggers vary from person to person.

However, some universal triggers have been identified.

These situations make those on the path to sobriety susceptible to relapse.

Having a better understanding of these triggers can help with relapse prevention warning signs.

Unrealistic Expectations

A lot of persons in recovery expect their lives to completely change after overcoming addiction.

It is natural to feel that major changes should begin to happen after such a significant life adjustment.

The disappointment that comes when these expectations are not fulfilled can be a relapse trigger.

Individuals in recovery is a process that may take some time goes a long way in preventing a relapse.

Part of recovery is getting your life back, and this will take some time.

Old/Familiar Friendships

Falling back into old habits with old acquaintances can also be a trigger for relapses.

Friends may remind you of the euphoria of drug use while leaving out the bad parts.

Those working toward sobriety need to avoid or limit their interactions with old friends.

Being around old friends allows you to consider drugs as an option when you are in bad situations.

To ultimately ensure that drugs are not a solution for anything, you must keep old friends who encourage bad habits away.


Even sober people can find themselves doing unnatural things when angry.

For people on the path to recovery, anger should be monitored closely as a trigger.

Most people in recovery may feel an urge to resort to drug use to deal with anger.

Individuals practicing sobriety must learn how to process anger without drugs.

It is also vital for those in recovery to avoid getting angry as much as they can.

Anger management can be treated with Cognitive Behavior Therapy.



A lot of people that just completed treatment deal with loneliness.

This emotion is dangerous because most individuals in recovery may use pills to dull the loneliness.

Whenever you may feel lonely, take some time to join a support a team to distract yourself.

As much as possible, persons in recovery should avoid being lonely because it is a trigger.

It is essential to be surrounded by friends and a network of supporters who can engage you well enough to prevent a relapse.


Although it is hardly talked about, being hungry can cloud judgment.

It is healthily that those in recovery eat and frequently.

Having a good meal makes you less likely to slip-up and relapse.

Regular meals and healthy snacks are essential to prevent any potential relapses.


Those in recovery need to pace themselves.

The initial excitement of being drug-free may lead many people who were once living a life revolving around addiction to take on more than they can handle.

It is crucial to ensure that you expend energy consciously.

Fatigue makes anyone vulnerable, and it is crucial to avoid situations that may cause a person in recovery to feel powerless.

If you are spread too thin, you may begin to look for energy sources, which may lead you back to square one.

Relapse Prevention Warning Signs

Identifying triggers is one of the first steps to preventing relapse.

However, it is just as important to recognize what signs may indicate that a relapse is possible. 

Understanding the warning signs of relapse allows you to take precautionary steps to prevent relapse.

The decline is more of a process than an isolated event. Relapses are usually a three-step process: emotional, mental, and physical.

The warning signs of a relapse can also be classified into these three categories:

Emotional Warning Signs

Emotional warning signs are usually part of the process where the person begins to feel negative emotions.

At this point, most people have no intention of relapsing. Certain emotions must be monitored closely to ensure that they do not lead to a relapse.


Anxiety is a major emotional sign of a relapse.

When a person begins to worry intensely about the future, they are more vulnerable to relapse.

Worrying about things that cannot be controlled usually pushes recovering addicts to find escapes.

Recurring feelings of anxiety are a warning sign.

Mood Swings

Mood swings are usually indicative of a potential relapse.

In most instances, the highs and lows of mood swings usually leave those in recovery vulnerable.

Where you notice a repeated pattern of mood swings, it is essential to seek help.


Anger can also be indicative of a potential relapse.

Frequent outbursts of anger usually leave people disoriented and vulnerable.

If such episodes become more and more prevalent, it may be a sign of a likely relapse.

Mental Warning Signs

At this point, the emotional warning signs outlined above may have driven a person to consider using substances again.

Most of the mental warning signs are an internal struggle between relapsing and staying healthy.

The person may consider relapsing as a coping mechanism for emotional stress.

Some mental stress warning includes:

Having Fantasies about Relapsing

Fantasizing about relapsing is a substantial mental warning sign.

In most cases, constant consideration of the possibility of relapsing ends with people relapsing.


If you frequently find yourself lying about things, you may have a problem.

It is essential to be accountable to friends and family. Dishonesty may create a platform for relapsing.

Glamorizing your Past

Always reminiscing and glamorizing former drug use can lead to a relapse.

It is essential to let go of those memories and focus on making new ones.


Hanging Around Old Spots

If you frequently hang around spots where you used to do drugs, you may have a problem.

There is a higher possibility of a person relapsing in familiar environments.

Staying far away from such places is the best option.


If you have experienced any of these warning signs, you may need professional help to maintain your sobriety.

Although some relapses are one-time events, most relapses lead right back to a full-on addiction.

Our professionals are available at North Jersey Recovery Center to help manage your triggers and warning signs.

When well managed, these warning signs are only signs.

Our professionals are experienced in dealing with relapses.

To ensure that all of our clients experience the best services, we offer free insurance verification services.

The best therapy and treatment services for relapse prevention will be administered to you.

Our personnel will contact your insurance providers directly to ensure that you get the necessary coverage.

Sobriety is a journey.

At North Jersey Recovery Center, we ensure that you continue to move forward on your journey. You deserve a happy and healthy life, and this is what we aim to give to you.

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by njrc

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