Seemingly irrelevant decisions (What are they?)

The current blogspot will be based on the question “what are seemingly irrelevant decisions?”. We will find out the various scenarios related to seemingly irrelevant decisions and the various emotional and behavioral changes that come along such decisions.

What are seemingly irrelevant decisions?

The seemingly irrelevant decisions are defined as a person’s choice or decision towards some life event or life situation that seems potentially neutral but has an associated risk of placing the certain individual in a high risk of relapse.

A person who makes a seemingly irrelevant decision tends to ignore the gravity of the risk associated with such decisions and often is ignorant towards the importance of such decisions in life. 

The seemingly irrelevant decisions have a positive relationship with relapse. Inorder to prevent the drug abuse patients from relapse. Many of the day to day and routine life decisions have nothing to do in life with drug use or substance intake. Though there is no direct relation between the life choices in general and relapse, there are chances that many of the decisions in  routine life are a one step close to substance use or addiction relapse.

The common seemingly irrelevant decisions include the following :

  • Whether one should keep addiction or substance use related things in the house premises.
  • Whether or not invite or get in contact with a former addiction buddy at home 
  • Whether or not go to a certain location in town
  • Whether or not to go to a party to meet old friends using recreational drugs
  • Whether Or not share with your old friends that you have quit drugs
  • Whether or not go alone to far off places for weekends

Seemingly irrelevant decisions are those life decisions that have a direct relation with the lapse and relapse. Anticipating the seemingly irrelevant decisions and acting upon them to prevent the expected relapse.

The seemingly irrelevant decisions are the decisions that direct a person slowly towards the relapse and if paired with high risk situations, the individuals may be more prone to having a relapse with associated negative emotions and thoughts

Having an unambiguous planning during the recovery, to understand and anticipate the associated high risk situations and seemingly irrelevant decisions is a must for preventing the relapse and managing the seemingly irrelevant decisions.

What are high risk situations in seemingly irrelevant decisions?

The high risk situations in seemingly irrelevant decisions are the emotionally threatening situations and anxiety provoking scenarios that can lead to lapse and relapse to substance use.

The high risk situations can be related to external triggers like any places, people and things associated with drinking or substance abuse. The internal triggers can be related to any insecurities, uncertainties, emotional anxieties and pessimism. 

A list of possible high risk situations includes following :

  • Negative emotional states including anger, despair, hopelessness and failure
  • Positive emotional states including celebration of a milestone, an achievement or a date night
  • Interpersonal conflict including marital conflicts, romantic partner disputes, workplace issues and conflict with friends
  • Social pressure and social influence to experience the drug one time with friends or peers

For example, a high school student was unable to achieve passing marks in exams. He believes that nothing good in life has left him. He feels the failure intensely and resorts to drugs to feel pleasure in life.

Similarly a van driver who has been on sobriety passes by a drug shop that he used to visit with his friends to buy drugs and then passes by the spot where they used to sit and do the drugs. The van driver will get triggered by the memories and would want to try it once again sitting on the same spot to cherish memories.

Another example could be a husband and a wife after having a fight over the financial crisis drink heavily despite knowing the fact that the husband had lately been detoxicated and try to feel at ease after the conflict.

A group of students at university offer a new drug for free inorder to let him experience the pleasure associated with it. Inorder to conform with the larger group, the new student takes the risk and starts using drugs regularly.

How can we help prevent the relapse through seemingly irrelevant decisions identification?

We can help prevent the relapse and lapse related to drug abuse  by identifying the seemingly irrelevant decisions through following questions :

  • Recall the last situation that led you up to this lapse?
  • Recall the decision that made you reach this point?
  • What prevented you from recognizing the red flags as signs to relapse?
  • Can you recognize the high risk situation and the triggers involved?
  • What do you think can be an alternate low risk option?
  • What is your plan to manage your triggers in future?

Thus a committed action plan can be structured to help the individual  identify the triggers and prevent lapse to drugs.


The current blogspot was based on the question “what are seemingly irrelevant decisions?”. We learned the various symptoms of the seemingly irrelevant decisions. We also discussed the potentially high risk scenarios and the various emotional states that are related to seemingly irrelevant decisions. 

Frequently asked questions : seemingly irrelevant decisions

What are examples of high-risk situations?

High risk situations involve the following :

  • Negative emotional states
  • Emotional triggers
  • Unpleasant thoughts 
  • Stress inducing emotional factors

What is a high-risk situation?

A high risk situation is any trigger that can lead to drug abuse or any other substance use. High risk situations can also lead to various impulsive behaviors, reactions and self mutilating behaviors. 

What is the abstinence violation effect?

The abstinence violation effect is a theory that is used to explain drug abuse. It suggests the use of drugs or substances among individuals due to a sense of despair or failure after a long time of abstinence.

What are some external triggers?

Some external triggers could be as follows :

  • An emotionally disturbing event
  • A stressful emotional state
  • Environmental stress
  • Being around toxic people
  • Financial troubles
  • Work life conflicts


Seemingly Irrelevant Decisions – A Roadmap to Relapse Prevention

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