An essential aspect of maintaining sobriety is understanding relapse risks and creating a plan to deal with potential relapse triggers. If you are in the recovery process or have reached sobriety, you will likely find yourself in various situations that may be challenging or pose a risk of relapse. While avoiding these high-risk situations is advisable, it is not always feasible in life.
The first step to a successful trigger plan is to learn how to recognize high-risk situations during recovery. Understanding potential triggers can help you avoid them where possible. In some cases, avoiding scenarios in recovery that act as a trigger isn’t possible. For situations like this, it is essential to create a plan to react to a high-risk situation and seek help from your support system.
What Is a High-Risk Situation?
A high-risk situation is any situation that can negatively impact your recovery process or threaten your sobriety. Staying sober after treatment can be difficult, especially when a trigger or challenging situation occurs. High-risk situations can be physical surroundings or an emotional response to a situation that jeopardizes your journey to recovery. While it may not always be clear at the moment, there are several layers of severity, including low-risk, moderate-risk and high-risk, that a situation may pose to your sobriety.
- Low-risk situations: While the low-risk situations aren’t the most demanding scenarios, it is essential to be aware of these potential situations. A common low-risk situation may involve revisiting a place you frequented when you were not on your recovery journey. Situations like this can have the ability to bring back negative emotions that may be difficult to handle.
- Moderate-risk situations: A moderate-risk situation poses more danger and can be challenging to approach constructively without a plan. Common moderate-risk situations may be visiting an old friend with whom you previously misused a substance. Even if this person is also in the recovery process, it can be hard not to associate previous instances with them.
- High-risk situations: High-risk situations are the most difficult to deal with, as they often trigger strong emotional or physical responses. One of the most common high-risk situations that someone in recovery may face is being in a place or situation where another person is actively misusing a substance. It is best to plan how to leave these situations safely and quickly and seek guidance from your support system.
Identifying and Dealing With High-Risk Situations During Recovery
While the most critical aspect of high-risk situations is identifying them before you find yourself in them, you’ll always want to plan how to approach a situation if necessary. In some cases, a friend or support group can be an asset to said plan. A solid support system can hold you accountable and help you stay strong if a high-risk situation occurs.
- Conflict: Conflicts can increase the potential for a negative mindset or mood and raise your overall risk for relapse. It is crucial to avoid personal conflict wherever possible to ensure a healthier and positive mindset.
- Negative mindset: A negative attitude can increase the potential risk of relapse for patients in recovery. Stress and negative emotions are common during the recovery process. While these emotions are unavoidable, it is important to learn healthy coping mechanisms to deal with them appropriately. Productive activities, including yoga, meditation and mindfulness for opioid recovery, can be helpful ways to deal with negative emotions and improve your mindset.
- Peer pressure: Social situations can be a great experience during recovery, but if you find yourself among people who still misuse substances, peer pressure can occur. Peer pressure can be difficult for anyone to handle, especially someone in recovery.
Avoiding High-Risk Situations During Recovery
Numerous high-risk situations may be challenging for those in recovery. Correctly identifying potential high-risk situations before they occur is an essential part of maintaining sobriety. If you do find yourself in a high-risk scenario, you’ll want to have an effective plan you can implement to maintain your sobriety and remove yourself from the situation.
- Triggering places and people: Certain situations and people may pose a high risk to those in recovery. If someone is in recovery and visits a place or person they previously associated with substance misuse, it may pose a higher risk for relapse. A job may also be a place where you’re likely to experience triggers. Overcoming workplace triggers can help you throughout your recovery journey.
- Anxiety or depression: Some people may turn to substance use if they are dealing with complicated emotions, including anxiety and depression. Some people may turn to misuse of a substance to dull negative feelings or emotions.
- Other addictive behaviors: When someone is in recovery, they may adopt other addictive behaviors to satisfy themselves. For example, some patients in recovery may take up gambling or overeating to fill the void of no longer misusing substances.
- Romanticizing the past: It can be easy to view the past more positively than how it occurred. When someone in recovery does this, they may think misusing a substance won’t have severe ramifications.
How to Develop a Relapse Prevention Plan
A relapse prevention plan can help you determine how to react if you find yourself at risk of relapse. While avoiding situations in recovery that trigger you is ideal whenever possible, a prevention plan can be an effective tool. This technique will help you calmly address a high-risk scenario and take appropriate actions to ensure your continued recovery process.
- Identification: The first step to developing a relapse prevention plan is identifying and understanding relapse risks. Identification is vital in helping you respond appropriately to a tough situation. Once you identify a high-risk scenario, you can plan how to react accordingly.
- Assessment: After identifying a complex scenario, the next step is to assess your surroundings and situation. Assessing a situation can help you further identify things or people that may worsen a trigger for you. It is smart to note a way to exit or withdraw from the situation during the assessment stage.
- Exit: If a high-risk situation puts your recovery in jeopardy, you should leave this situation. Whether it is physically removing yourself from the immediate room by going to the bathroom or fully exiting the building, the distance between the situation and yourself can provide you with the ability to think more clearly.
- Support group: A solid support system is ideal for anyone going through the recovery process. If you have just left a high-risk situation, calling a trusted friend or family member can be a great option to talk about any complicated or negative emotions you’re feeling. A support group can help you ground yourself, remain calm and discourage any potentially dangerous actions. Being happier and healthier through recovery with a support group can lead to a more effective recovery journey.
- Follow up: If you’re still in a negative mood after a high-risk situation, it is a good idea to follow up with a doctor or counselor. A visit with a counselor can provide a great opportunity to safely discuss the situation and any thoughts or emotions it may have brought on.
Choose Opioid Addiction Treatment at AppleGate Recovery
At AppleGate Recovery, we prioritize helping patients recover so they can lead a safe, happy and healthy life. We pride ourselves on offering innovative treatments so patients can focus on daily aspects of their lives — and improving one step at a time. Our team of experts and counselors provides a safe, structured environment for patients to talk through any difficulties they may face or feel during medication-assisted treatment.