A relapse is a reinstatement of compulsive drug-seeking behavior after a period of being sober or abstinent. It is a form of spontaneous recovery that involves the recurrence of substance use after a period of being clean. It is often stated that relapse is a normal part of the recovery process. Drugs hijack a person’s brain and rewire it. After chronic use, the pleasure or “feel good” neurotransmitters in our brain are often triggered, which signals the addict to repeat old behaviors. If the addict gives in to these cravings and triggers and uses drugs after being sober for a long time, it is called a relapse. A relapse is defined as the worsening of a condition like an addiction that had previously improved. Statistics from the National Institute on Drug Abuse say that 40 to 60 percent of addicts relapse.
What Are Relapse Triggers?
A relapse trigger reminds the brain of the pleasure and euphoria of past substance use or abuse and causes cravings for that substance. Relapse triggers can be people, places, or things. They can also be mental, emotional, social, or environmental. Some of the common relapse triggers for a person in recovery come in the acronym HALT. HALT stands for hungry, angry, lonely, and tired. If a person isn’t familiar with this, they may think it’s goofy or not a big deal, but to feel hungry, angry, lonely, or tired is a culprit of unhealthy behavior. This will trigger the brain and set an individual up for a relapse quickly.
Can A Car Be A Relapse Trigger?
Relapse triggers are different for everyone. Something that triggers me may not have any impact on another person in recovery. From a writer’s perspective, having a vehicle at my disposal has helped me to carry out one too many relapses. There have been many times when something has triggered me to want to use; if I don’t have the keys to a car or a ride, I’m not able to follow through with that relapse. Can a car be a relapse trigger? For myself, it hasn’t been a primary trigger, meaning just having access to a car doesn’t trigger my brain to want to go out and use it. However, as I stated above, I’ve often had something else trigger me, but if I don’t have access to a vehicle to go and get my drug of choice, I don’t relapse.
How Do Drugs Work On The Body?
The effects that drugs have on the dopamine neurotransmitters in the brain signal a person to want to repeat the behavior. The National Institute on Drug Abuse Media Guide “The Science of Drug Use and Addiction: The Basics” says:
Nearly all addictive drugs directly or indirectly target the brain’s reward system by flooding the circuit with dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter present in regions of the brain that regulate movement, emotion, cognition, motivation, and reinforcement of rewarding behaviors. When activated at normal levels, this system rewards our natural behaviors. However, overstimulating the system with drugs produces effects that strongly reinforce the behavior of drug use, teaching the person to repeat it. (NIDA)
When it comes to relapse and relapse triggers, relapse prevention is a very important part of recovery. If a recovering addict is practicing good self-care by taking care of their physical, mental, and emotional needs daily and keeping up with their therapy, the chances of relapse will be greatly reduced. Knowing your specific triggers and working to stay away from those triggers will help you stay on the road to recovery and obtain long-lasting sobriety.
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