Five Potential Alcohol Relapse Triggers

Five Potential Alcohol Relapse TriggersIf you are an alcoholic and have completed addiction recovery treatment you have accomplished an important and worthwhile step towards a drug-free life. However, completing rehab is only the beginning of your recovery process. Once alcohol addiction treatment is complete you will still be faced with the temptation to drink. When an addict has a drink or a drinking binge during his recovery it is called a relapse. A relapse trigger is the event that causes an addict to relapse. The following are five common relapse triggers categories:

  • Physical triggers
  • Excuses
  • Emotional triggers
  • Peer pressure
  • Being overconfident

Physical Triggers for Alcohol Use

Often, relapse can be triggered by something physical that reminds an addict of a time or situation when he consumed alcohol. These triggers can be sights, sounds, smells, or people. For example, if during your addiction you consumed most of your alcohol at a bar you might have a number of physical triggers including the following:

  • The smell of cigarette smoke
  • Dim lighting
  • Large groups of people
  • A specific song that you heard frequently while drinking

These triggers can be extremely specific and vary from person to person. This can be regarded as a type of withdrawal symptom that can make it difficult for recovering addicts to return home after rehab. If you engaged in some or all of your drinking at home for example, items in your house have the potential to trigger a relapse.

Excuses That Contribute to Relapse

As your recovery progresses you may find yourself developing excuses for why you can drink. These excuses can include the following:

    I’ll only drink a little bit

  • I’ve had a hard day, one drink won’t hurt
  • I am the only one who will know if I drink
  • My alcohol consumption only affects me
  • I deserve a drink
  • This is a special event

See past these excuses for what they are: roadblocks to your recovery. Focus on your recovery and remember all of the negative things that happened in your life when you were an alcoholic, and all the positive achievements that a relapse will put on hold.

Emotional Triggers for Alcohol Use

Often, addicts are at their weakest when they are under stress or some other negative emotion. Alcoholics Anonymous uses the anagram H.A.L.T to remind recovering addicts what emotions can most easily cause them to use. These emotional states are:

  • Hungry
  • Angry
  • Lonely
  • Tired

If you are feeling any of these emotions realize that you are vulnerable to relapse.

Peer Pressure and Relapse

You do not necessarily need to stop seeing your friends if they drink socially. But it is important that you only allow people into your life who are supportive of your recovery. Unsupportive friends have a tendency to pressure you into imbibing.


There is no reason in the world that you should not feel encouraged when your recovery is going well. You are doing great. However, it is important that you remember that you are not invincible. Just because you are doing well does not mean that you can let your guard down.

The Importance of Rehabilitation and Aftercare

Because alcoholism is a chronic disease many addicts experience relapse at least once during their recovery. If you have a relapse you haven’t made an unforgivable mistake. Pick yourself up and try again.
If you have consistent relapses or if you would like to prevent relapse find an addiction aftercare group. These groups are for people who have completed rehab and want additional support. They include group and individual therapy sessions.

Help for Victims of Addiction Relapse

If you are a recovering alcoholic who has experienced a relapse or is trying to avoid one, call our toll-free helpline. Our addiction counselors are available 24 hours a day to advise you. You have not ruined your recovery. Call us today.

Comments are closed.