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Readers Respond: What are your biggest relapse triggers and how do you deal with them?

Responses: 142


Updated October 09, 2014

Lost my hope

Well, the most wonderful feeling in recovery is rediscovering why a healthy, self-worth, and happy lifestyle is everything. The big reason behind sobriety. A dream so to speak, whether it be a loved one, maybe a job. Basically something or someone that keeps you hopeful. Your "drive" for success. My relapse was when it shattered. A female i held dear to my heart, my dream, my purpose for a future told me she didn't care what happened to me. She didn't care! After 5 to 6 years of my investment. We weren't dating, but i wanted nothing more then to spend my life in her life. My reason to stay clean was gone. Then, so too was i gone on drugs. The light of my candle was put out. I felt hopeless, unloved, and alone. Isolated from the world, like i didn't deserve to live. She was all I cared for. I put her before me! And she in returned stabbed my heart and mentally spat in my face! I simultaneously, ended my life along with the relationship. Drugs eased the pain. It stopped me from feeling.
—Guest imapothead

I'm feeling the same way

Just drank a beer after my 90 day birthday. All of the signs were there that a slip up or worse yet, a relapse was on the way. A relapse begins before you take the first drink. I went to a meeting 5 days before I used. I couldn't connect. It felt like they were speaking a foreign language. This site has helped me by hearing from other people that are going through the same as me. Alcoholism and Addiction. We must fight this disease with vigilance because nothing good will come from our drinking/using. In the end it will totally destroy us. We all know this, if even on a subconscious level, we know this. Talk about cunning and baffling!
—Guest jacqueline

To Hell And Back.

I am one the tail of a three day trip to hell. I am dealing with the withdrawals, guilt, remorse, and the absolute terror of having a relapse after months of alcohol free bliss. My trigger was going out on a first date, and the thought entered my mind to become this relaxed, fun and charming date. Well I got lost, never got to my dates home, was abused with a nasty text. I just felt it would more fun with a few drinks along the way. Well one is too many and 10 are not enough. Needless to say I have no recollection of my movements for 3 days. That is a very scary place to be in. My Mother found me on neighbors garden passed out, and now I have the crap side of abstaining from the alcohol. The headache, heart palpations, anxiety attacks, guilt, shame and feeling like I have let everyone down. So back on the wagon and just left to wonder how I could have been so stupid to pick up the first drink. It's not the last drink that does the damage, always the first one. Tomorrow will bring new hope.
—Hopeful member,

I'm wondering....

I've been unemployed for 2-1/2 yrs. now and drink heavily everyday. I keep saying I will look for work "tomorrow." I know I'm digging my hole deeper everyday. My sister who is also an alcoholic moved in with me due to certain circumstances. She's not in good health mostly due to her own alcohol consumption. My brother-in-law just recently died from alcohol. I feel totally lost and want help. I'm afraid to seek help because I wonder if any hospitalization, etc. could be found out by a potential employer? They DO ask that on the employment applications! I feel totally trapped.

Relapsed after 18 months - peer pressure

I was sober and largely happy for 18 months after a near fatal bout of alcoholic pnuemonia. I had a friend who was a drinker and said I could probably cope. I have been a saint and still get treated badly at work and by others. I thought-"what's the point of being good when others are bad and life is good to them?" I don't know any alcoholics in their 20's who admit it and am feeling lost. Is it possible to drink normally again? Why doesn't anyone understand we can't just have one?
—Guest Milly

Grown children

Well friends, I can't allow them to pull me under the way I have in the past. Why is it that as parents, we love them unconditionally, yet they judge, belittle, don't even call, and they don't think that hurts. I have to be vigilant when it comes to letting them break my heart, I will drink. It has happened before, but I won't let it happen again. They are 29, 26, 24 and a 8 year old grandson so their lives are a whirlwind and they keep me out of the loop since my divorce from their dad. The hurt can literally drop me to my knees sobbing. It has been 11 years since the split. I have learned to pay no bother to others, that are mean, why can't I deal with them the same way? I will not drink, I will not give in....today.
—Guest kid-o


I asked my husband what makes him want to drink. He agrees with Unfun -- that he is not interesting and doesn't have fun unless he is drinking or drunk. I gave him examples of when I thought we had fun when he was sober. His answer surprised me. He said he only agreed to do the "sober" things because he thought there would be sex at the end. To him that's having fun -- he equates sex as the only fun worth having and drinking as the way to getting it. I believe that brain of his is definitely having some problems even without the alcohol.

Feeling Empty

I can't stay sober for more than two weeks at a time. I'm a functional alcoholic and I drink because I feel empty and disappointed in how my life as turned out. I spend my days taking care of my children/husband. Alcohol helps numb me so that I can get through the days.
—Guest House wifey

Relapse truggers

Just read the signs for the relapse triggers, been sober for 82 days , and what did I do 2 days ago, I drink a beer, then had some wine, did the same thing yesterday, of course my family found out right away. Who am I kidding? Stopped going to meetings, isolated myself, classic.
—Guest Iem

Relapse after 1-1/2 years

I understand what you are saying. Like you, I am not AA material. Cant connect with anyone there. I always end up walking out of meetings and try to handle this disease on my own. I don't like everyone knowing my secrets either. Used to go to a lot of meetings, but don't now. I also drink a lot of wine, beer, etc on a daily basis. Stayed sober for almost a year. Worked hard at that. Just recently have been sneaking a lot of drinks and am very angry with myself. Having this disease, and being unable to control it is getting me down. I'm always saying I'm never going to drink again after the last time, but that never happens, I always do. If you want someone to talk to, you can talk to me. May be we could help each other. I hope you are OK and are hanging in there.
—Guest Chrissy

Really sober?

My brother who was an addict of oxy has still same issues as before rehab. I am not convinced that he is clean. Money troubles and his voice is sounding of "under the influence" he lives out of state and I cannot trust what he says. He can have several hundred dollars in banking fees without any guilt. How can I know for sure that he is clean. He never did the rehab suggestions of the meetings. It drains me to think that he is back on these pills again. I am worried that he will take enough that he will not wake up one of these times.
—Guest Jacklyn


I am 213 days sober. I just feel uninteresting, unfun and boring without drinking. Not sure why I am all of a sudden worrying about relapsing. First summer sober and trying to learn how to feel comfortable with myself sober and have fun at the same time. Thinking about going to AA meetings. Never attended and been doing this with help of friends and exercise. Thinking I might need that extra help of support of others that have experienced the same feelings. Guess it couldn't hurt?


Unemployment, losing everything you have worked for, but as they say those are material things. What do you do with no house or food on the table?
—Guest Steve

2 1/2 years

I am able to get to 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 years clean, but I haven't made it to 4 years (yet). The holidays trigger me. I start getting depressed around Halloween, and the stress increases as the time nears for me to spend time with my family. Every year I say to myself, "not this year." Every year I do something different for the holidays to decrease the stress. Like last year I didn't put up outside lights and didn't put up my Dickens Village. And after 2 1/2 years I had two glasses of wine. How crazy is that. Any suggestions for this holiday season are welcomed.

Compulsion to drink has been removed

I honestly can't remember the last time a trigger has made me want to drink or use. It have been 6 years, 2 months since my last drink. So, how did I get to the point where the compulsion to drink has been removed? Early on, went to at least one meeting daily. I got a sponsor and worked the steps. I studied the big book and the 12 x 12 and got into service very early on. And today, I am in service, have a sponsor and attend 3-5 meetings per week. Stay in the solution and you'll stay out of the problem(s.) This isn't to say that situations won't arise which are difficult, emotional, painful and challenging. Life guarantees those things. But, as The Promises state on P. 84 of the big book, "We will intuitively know how to handle things which used to baffle us." So, thoroughly work the program and what used to be a 'trigger' becomes but an opportunity.
—Guest Andrew
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