What Are Relapse Triggers?
In their simplest form, relapse triggers are anything that inspires people to start or restart substance use. Everyone is impacted by triggers, but since people are triggered by different things, not everyone will respond in the same ways to the same triggers.
Triggers are problematic because they create a series of mental or physical responses that draw all of a person’s attention and focus toward getting and using more of a substance. Triggers produce the strong cravings and powerful urges that frequently result in relapse.
If a person can work to identify and avoid their triggers, they will have an easier time controlling and regulating their cravings and urges. Without feeling the strong compulsion to use substances, there is a much lower risk of relapse and future drug use.
Internal vs. External Relapse Triggers
Almost everything a person encounters in their daily life can be a trigger. Triggers are often categorized as internal or external.
An external trigger is a person, place or thing from the outside world that sparks feelings related to substance use. External triggers can include the people someone used drugs with, places they would get drugs and paraphernalia they would use to consume drugs. External triggers may surround a person, but they are visible and easy to acknowledge in most cases.
An internal trigger can be more challenging to identify because they are invisible and occur within the person. Possible internal triggers include strong emotions or physiological issues. These can occur as the brain and body adjust to the changing levels of alcohol or drugs in the system.