The current opioid crisis in the United States takes 115 lives every day from overdoses alone.
As scary as that statistic is, it doesn’t even touch on the thousands of people whose lives are threatened and mangled by addiction.
If you or a loved one is among them, here’s the good news: there’s hope for recovery. Now that the opioid crisis is well-known, it’s been studied and publicized to build support for those who are struggling with addiction.
If you’re in recovery, one of the most important ways to stay clean is to avoid or manage potential addiction triggers. Knowing what stumbling blocks you may encounter and having a plan can mean the difference between a win or a relapse. To help you manage your recovery, check out the most common triggers below.
Addiction Triggers to Avoid During Opioid Recovery
While you may not be able to avoid challenging situations forever, it’s a helpful way to stay clean in the earlier or more fragile parts of your recovery. Here are some of the most common ones to look for:
HALT is a common acronym used in recovery. It stands for hungry, angry, lonely, and tired. All of these situations can make you vulnerable to a relapse because your basic needs aren’t being met.
Obviously, you can’t avoid ever feeling any of these emotions. You can, however, get better about recognizing these risky points. If you’re feeling the need to use opiates, ask yourself if you’re actually hungry, angry, lonely, or tired. Instead of using, take action to fix the real problem.
It’s also a good idea to prepare yourself for these instances.
Start having snacks available when you need them. Learn some anger management techniques. Build a network of supportive friends (even if they’re just online), and indulge in a nap if you need one.
Major Life Changes
Stress is one of the most common addiction triggers, both initiating original addictive behaviors and triggering relapses.
Major life changes, even those that seem positive, can be massive causes of stress. Avoid starting new romantic relationships in the early stages of your recovery. You should also try to avoid moves and stressful job changes if possible, too.
While there’s no hard and fast schedule for how long opiate addiction takes, new relationships and other major life changes should usually be avoided for your first year of sobriety.
People Who Use Drugs
By far, one of the most common tips for addiction recovery is to stop associating with the people who used to use drugs with you. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the hardest tips to follow because these are often people you genuinely love.
Remember that if these people truly love you and want you to recover, they’ll understand why you need some space. In fact, it may motivate them to get clean as well.
In this same vein, you should also avoid the places and situations in which you used to use opiates. Look for new places to hang out or new friends to surround yourself with who will support you in your recovery.
Non-Supportive Friends & Family
Addiction recovery isn’t something a person goes through on his/her own. It’s a journey for everyone who loves you, too, and some cope with it better than others.
Sometimes this takes the form of outright anger or contempt, perhaps because they’re struggling with addiction themselves or because they miss your attention. In other cases, the lack of support is trickier. The person truly loves you and cares for you, but is overly accepting of your behavior and becomes an enabler.
If you have friends or family members who aren’t fully supportive of your recovery, they may not be the best people to spend time with during your early sobriety.
Keep in mind that you can help your friends and family support your addiction recovery. There are support groups, books, and counseling options available specifically for their experience.
Mental or Physical Illness
Clearly, you can’t 100% prevent mental or physical illnesses during your opioid recovery. But for a large number of people who became addicted to opioids by misusing prescription pain pills, falling ill is one of their worst fears.
During your recovery, take steps to protect your health by eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise. This is also a helpful hobby to have to distract you from your cravings.
One of the most important ways to protect your mental and physical health, though, is to seek help if you start to notice a problem. If possible, see a psychologist or other mental health professional on a regular basis and stay open to his/her suggestions.
In the same way, get medical attention if you notice a physical health issue, too. Whether it’s an injury or a potential illness, letting it go without treatment often causes it to get worse. This can add up to a more serious health issue that’s difficult to treat without pain medication, or to a relapse simply from the discomfort and stress of it.
There’s a delicate balance you need to strike with your internal narrative while recovering from addiction. You have to believe in yourself and empower yourself to stay strong. But at the same time, you can’t become overly confident in your sobriety.
If you take your sobriety for granted, you’re likely to get into situations that leave you vulnerable to a relapse. At that point, the moment you let your guard down, you’re set up for a huge risk. Remind yourself that while its entirely within your power to stay clean, it’s never a given so you need to stay vigilant.
Getting Help for Your Opioid Addiction
Addiction recovery always has its ups and downs. Some days you’ll feel empowered and dedicated to a more fulfilling life. Other days you’ll doubt every choice you’ve made. It’s important to use those strong times to set up safeguards for the weaker times.
The tips above can help you avoid addiction triggers to lower your risk for relapse and get you on the road to a clean, sober, and meaningful life. If you need some additional help or you’re in the earlier stages of your recovery, learn more about methadone treatment.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019, January 22). Opioid Overdose Crisis. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/opioids/opioid-overdose-crisis
How to Use HALT in Addiction Recovery. (2017, May 15). Retrieved from https://www.wikihow.com/Use-HALT-in-Addiction-Recovery