Relapse, unfortunately, is a very real part of one’s recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. In many cases, having a relapse can set back a person’s progress toward sobriety to where they are back at square one, which can mean remittance into rehab.

While relapse can happen to nearly anyone who is struggling to overcome their addictions, there nonetheless are warning signs, or triggers a person can detect that might help stave off a relapse. If you or a loved one have been asking yourself “What happens if I relapse?” keep reading to find out what triggers a person needs to be aware of, and avoid, to stay drug and alcohol free.


To someone who is trying to overcome their drug and alcohol dependency, a trigger can comprise just about anything. For instance, New Years could be a trigger simply because of the celebratory mood and of course the presence of alcohol. An addiction trigger can also be a song, a restaurant, or an old bar that you or a loved one used to go to. In short, triggers can be a person, place or thing, as well as a memory, a certain chain of events, or an unresolved psychiatric issue.

The best method to take to avoid falling victim to one or more of these triggers is to recognize them as warning signs that a person could be in the beginning stages of a relapse. Because of this, it is very important to know the person that you are worried about and understand what circumstances have led up to their substance abuse. So, while establishing patterns that could point to a relapse might seem like arduous detective work, once that pattern is established, the next step is to remove yourself or your loved one from its potential consequences.


While literally anything can be a trigger toward a person’s relapse, it’s nonetheless good that you know what can make up some of the more common triggers. In most instances, those are:

  • Straying from the path: Sobriety requires diligence and commitment. One trigger can be you or a loved one no longer having an interest in what it takes to stay sober. Missing AA/NA meetings or therapy sessions can be another example of straying from the path.

  Resolution: Restart the routine. Resume your regiment of support meetings and therapy sessions. Introduce a new routine to that regiment, like exercise or something creative that can help you stay on the path with interest and obligation.

  • A sudden fondness for the “good ole days”: The propensity to party can still exist as a strong craving in a newly-sober person. This can be especially true during major events, such as holidays, birthdays or vacations.

  Resolution: Try to remember those fond times for something other than booze and drugs. Possibly make a long-range   plan to have a substance-free party, which can mentally and emotionally replace the get-togethers back when you or your loved one was drug and alcohol dependent.

  • Missing your enablers: Drug pals and drinking buddies can quite easily be triggers. You or your loved one might remember instances of inebriated glee, then wonder what could have happened to those people with whom you had that inebriated glee.

  Resolution: Try to remember your former mates for what they were then and what they are now in regard to your sobriety. Hanging out with them, especially if they’re still abusing can truly set you back. Do yourself a favor, and throw them out of your mind.

  • You’ve cut back on or entirely stopped your healthy habits: Exercise has now become a chore, therapy is tedious and repetitive, and overall, being sober has become boring.

  Resolution: Try to begin where you left off. Do a light physical workout instead of putting in a full-blown effort. Or suggest to your therapist that he or she adjust your sessions to keep things fresh and interesting.


Nothing in sobriety is foolproof. Unless you’re willing to lock yourself in a room, at some point during your recovery, the outside world will have to be experienced. Of course, the outside world can have a host of setbacks that might lead you off your healthy pathway.

If this does occur, the first thing to remember is that relapses aren’t uncommon to people who are trying to recover from substance abuse. It’s a tough task to ask of yourself, as well as ask others to understand. Just like with healthy friends and unhealthy friends, there can be healthy and unhealthy memories, emotions and cravings.

As you ask, “What happens if I relapse?” you must also remember that relapse means you’ve already once achieved sobriety, and in that, know what it takes and the tools to use to achieve sobriety again.

If you or a loved one have an addiction to alcohol, contact BLVD Treatment Centers. At BLVD Treatment Centers we custom tailor our recovery programs within the safe and nurturing confines of our rehab treatment centers. Located throughout California, in Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego and in Portland, OR, our mission is to assess the severity of your addiction to help you achieve true recovery within 30 days. Call us now at 1-866.582.9844.

What Happens if I Relapse?