Potential Causes of Opioid Abuse Relapse

There are a few terms that are unfortunately somewhat common and well-known within the world of addiction recovery, and “relapse” is chief among them. Relapse can take place for a variety of substance abuse addictions and related forms of addiction, and one of the most common examples is within opioid abuse.

At Moonlight Mountain Recovery, we’re here to provide caring alcohol and drug rehabilitation programs around not only Boise, but also nearby states like Oregon and Washington. Our addiction recovery programs are offered in both inpatient and outpatient settings, and relapse prevention is a major priority. One important part of avoiding relapse during opioid or any other kind of substance abuse addiction recovery involves understanding the potential causes or triggers for relapse – here are some of the most common to keep in mind, though it’s important to note that these will vary by individual.

External Vs Internal Causes

Before we dig into specific triggers, it’s important to understand the difference between external and internal causes of relapse. External causes are those that come from outside sources – for example, peer pressure or easy access to substances. Internal causes, meanwhile, are those that come from within the individual themselves, such as feelings of stress, anxiety or depression.

For some people managing opioid addiction recovery, both internal and external triggers may exist – for others, one may be more prominent. Let’s look at some examples of each.

Stress and Anxiety

One of the most common internal triggers for relapse is stress or anxiety. These are both common emotions during addiction recovery, and it’s natural to want to turn to substances as a coping mechanism. Learning healthy ways to manage stress and anxiety, such as through therapy or mindfulness techniques, can be an important part of preventing relapse.

Now, stress is one area that can also bleed over into being an external trigger for some people. Stress can often be brought on by external factors, such as work or relationship issues. In these cases, it’s important to identify the source of stress and learn healthy coping mechanisms to manage it.

Access to Substances

As mentioned above, having easy access to substances can be an external trigger for relapse. This is especially true for those in the early stages of addiction recovery when willpower may still be weak. For this reason, it’s important to have a strong support system in place and to avoid situations or environments where substances may be present.

Lack of Support

Speaking of support systems, a lack of one can also be an external trigger for relapse. Having a strong support network made up of friends, family, and addiction recovery professionals is crucial for staying on track and avoiding relapse. It’s important to communicate with your support system when you’re feeling vulnerable and to ask for help when needed.

For instance, if you’re attending a social event where alcohol will be present and you’re feeling anxious about your ability to resist temptation, reach out to a loved one or sponsor for support. They can provide encouragement and help keep you accountable.


In other cases, isolation can be an internal trigger for relapse. This is especially true for those who may have used substances as a way to cope with feelings of loneliness or disconnection in the past. If you find yourself feeling isolated, reach out to your support system or consider joining an addiction recovery group where you can connect with others who understand what you’re going through.

Overconfidence in Recovery

Another internal trigger for relapse can be overconfidence in one’s recovery. This often happens when someone has been sober for a period of time and starts to believe they no longer need to actively work on their recovery. It’s important to remember that addiction is a chronic disease and requires ongoing support and effort to manage.

Relationship or Family Issues

For many people, relationship or family issues can be both external and internal triggers for relapse. This could include arguments or conflicts with a significant other, difficulty communicating with family members, or feeling unsupported by loved ones. It’s important to address these issues openly and honestly in order to prevent them from becoming triggers for relapse.


Finally, memories of past substance use can be a powerful internal trigger for relapse. This is especially true for those who have been sober for an extended period of time and may start to romanticize their past drug use. It’s important to remember the negative consequences that resulted from substance abuse and to focus on the positive changes that have come from addiction recovery.

While these are some of the most common triggers for relapse, it’s important to remember that everyone’s journey is unique. It’s crucial to work closely with a trusted addiction recovery professional and develop an individualized relapse prevention plan that addresses your specific needs and triggers. With the right support, tools, and strategies in place, it is possible to overcome addiction and maintain long-term sobriety.

At Moonlight Mountain Recovery, we are dedicated to helping individuals overcome addiction and live fulfilling, sober lives. If you or a loved one is struggling with opioid addiction around Boise or nearby states like Oregon and Washington, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Our team of experienced professionals is here to guide you through every step of the recovery process and provide ongoing support for long-term success.

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