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Can Relationships Trigger Us to Relapse?

When we’re in recovery, we often find we have to be extra mindful of things that might cause us to relapse. Certain situations, events, thoughts, feelings, and memories can be particularly troublesome, worrisome, burdensome and bothersome for us. They might be things we’re especially sensitive to, things that bring up additional stress, and things that trigger us into feeling unwanted emotions. When we experience them, we feel a surge in our anxiety and increased temptation to give in to the urges and compulsions of our addictions. We’ve been trying so hard to stay clean and sober, so when we feel triggered, we can feel mounting pressure not to relapse. We feel desperate to meet the expectations we’ve placed on ourselves. We’re afraid of letting ourselves and others down, and this fear can be particularly overwhelming and stressful. One of the things that can trigger us most is the close relationships in our lives.

The difficult relationships in our lives bring up a whole host of complex emotions – anger, grief, frustration, disappointment, shame, regret. When we’re working to recover, we often haven’t resolved the relationship issues that have been causing us the most pain. We’ve been avoiding thinking about them. Often we’re afraid of confronting the issues altogether. We’re afraid of the anxiety and stress that can come with confrontation. We’re afraid of dealing with other people’s anger as well as our own. We’re afraid to offend people and hurt their feelings. We’re afraid of the unkind things they’ll say to us. When we don’t confront the issues in our challenging relationships, we’re often trying to protect ourselves from more hurt. We may have experienced years of similar issues with this person, problems that have never been discussed let alone resolved. We might have tension and animosity between us that make it that much harder to confront the issues. We might be afraid that if we finally address the relationship problems, we’ll lose the relationships for good, and we’re afraid of the sadness and grief we’ll feel in losing the people we care most about.

It is not uncommon for us to turn to our drugs of choice to cope with our relationship issues. When we feel worried, uncertain, angry, sad or confused, we use an addictive substance or behavior to help us cope with the difficult things we’re feeling. We use our drugs of choice to escape the things we’re having a hard time facing. Relationships can be some of the biggest triggers for our relapse, and working to recover from our addictions means learning how to navigate the relationship issues we have without turning to our usual coping mechanisms.

The caring, compassionate staff of The Guest House is here to support you as you start your journey to recovery and healing. Call 855-483-7800 today for more information.