Recognizing Opiate Addiction Relapse Triggers

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While most people enter opiate addiction recovery with the intention of never abusing drugs again, the potential for relapse is actually part of what defines an addiction problem. People recovering from opiate addiction face an ongoing risk of relapse that can persist for years into the recovery process.

According to the Journal of Current Psychiatry Reports, an estimated two thirds of people who begin drug treatment experience a relapse episode within the first few months. For these reasons, it’s important to be able to recognize signs of opiate addiction relapse early on.

If you need help dealing with relapse triggers in recovery, call call our toll-free helpline at 800-442-6158 Who Answers? to to ask about available treatment support options.

Opiate Addiction Relapse Triggers

People, Places and Things

During the course of a developing addiction, the brain’s reward system builds associations between drug use and the various circumstances in which drug use takes place. In effect, these associations become active cues that trigger drug craving urges.

Subsequently, places where you’ve used drugs, as well as people and things associated with drug use tend to become opiate addiction relapse triggers.


Opiate Addiction Relapse

Stress management skills are necessary in order to avoid opiate relapse.

Over time, the effects of opiate abuse gradually impair the brain’s ability to manage stress levels. Stress factors can take any number of forms, some of which include:

  • Lack of sleep
  • Worry
  • Indecision
  • Poor diet
  • Heavy workload

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, stress factors, in any form, can easily trigger opiate addiction relapse when a person lacks needed stress management skills.

Frustration with the Recovery Process

Most people don’t anticipate the time and effort that goes into building a drug-free life and soon become frustrated with the recovery process. Addiction recovery entails a process where the brain, body and emotions need time to heal from the effects of opiate abuse. During this time, a person must learn new ways of coping with everyday life without the need the drugs.


As far as opiate addiction relapse risks go, feelings of depression top the list. Depression exists as one of the main aftereffects of opiate addiction. More often than not, people recovering from opiate addiction experience ongoing feelings of depression for months into the recovery process.

In cases of mild depression, individual counseling or psychotherapy may be of benefit. If you’re experiencing severe or ongoing feelings of depression, some form of medication treatment may well be necessary.

When Feelings Make You WANT to Use Opiates: What to Do to Avoid Relapse

Self Pity

Sooner or later, the effort required to maintain a drug-free lifestyle will bring on feelings of self pity once frustration levels reach a certain point. Feelings of self pity stem from negative thinking patterns; the same types of patterns that pave way for an opiate addiction relapse episode to happen.

Treatment Considerations

More than anything else, it’s important to stay engaged in the treatment/recovery process in order to be able to handle relapse triggers when they occur. Whether this means attending 12 Step support group meetings on a daily basis or entering a treatment program, it’s essential to take whatever steps are necessary to develop the types of coping skills that make long-term abstinence possible.

Please feel free to call our toll-free helpline at 800-442-6158 Who Answers? for information on available treatment options.

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