What Is A Trigger?
The first step in breaking the cycle of cravings, urges and relapse is to identify the unique triggers that prompt the need to drink or use drugs. Triggers can be defined as any situation or stressor that creates a thought, feeling or action to use.
Triggers come from internal and external factors. Sometimes they are obvious and other times they are subtle. Triggers can come out of the blue or intensify over time. These disparities make triggers difficult to recognize because they manifest in different ways for different people.
Let’s take a look at examples of external and internal triggers.
External triggers include people, places, things and situations going on around you. They can be:
- Old friends
- An old connection or drug dealer
- Old hangouts
- Paraphernalia (i.e., bottles of alcohol)
- Celebrations or holidays
- Sporting events or concerts
- Emotionally charged interactions
- Certain times of the day
Internal triggers come from within and include memories, thoughts or feelings. They can be:
- Negative thinking
Triggers are unique to each individual. What may urge one person to use drugs or alcohol may not affect another. This is why it’s important to understand which things set you off and the proper steps to take if you encounter them.
Immediate Steps To Take When Experiencing A Trigger
In the second half of this article, we will discuss the immediate steps to take after experiencing a known trigger.
Remove Yourself From The Situation
Take yourself out of the situation as quickly as possible. This may involve leaving an event early and getting a ride home with a trusted friend, or it may require you to take a step out of the office. Don’t worry about what others will think. Your sobriety comes first.
Practice Stress And Trigger Relieving Methods
You should have some effective coping mechanisms to fall back on when you’re experiencing stress or anxiety. While there are a number of ways to combat stress, yoga, meditation and deep breathing exercises are some of the best alternative treatments for addiction.
These exercises promote mindfulness, which is the act of focusing on what’s important at the moment. Mindfulness can be very helpful at erasing negative thinking and bringing you back to what’s happening now.
Call Your Sponsor Or A Supportive Friend
You have a sponsor for a reason. They have agreed to take on the role of being your mentor, so don’t hesitate to call them if you are experiencing a trigger. They understand what you’re going through, and they can help you work through the urge to use.
If you don’t have a sponsor, call a supportive friend. Just talking to someone can be helpful because they can offer you a new perspective, walk you through your emotions or get your mind re-focused on something more constructive.
Go To A Group Meeting
While you may not be able to race over to a meeting in the immediate moment, it’s important to point out that attending your 12-step meetings is essential to your recovery. Not only do you learn effective coping strategies in your meetings, but also you build a strong support network that you can rely on in times of stress.
If you haven’t been keeping up with your meetings, ask yourself why. Have you had trouble finding the right group? Is transportation an issue?
There Are Ways To Work Around These Factors.
Keep in mind that each group is independently run, so if you don’t like one meeting, try another. You can find a complete list of meetings in your area on the AA.org or NA.org websites. You may also inquire about other self-help groups available through local organizations or places of worship.
If you have limitations because of your location or lack of transportation, take advantage of the many online meetings and forums that are available.
Create A Relapse Prevention Plan
Over time, you will begin to realize the people, places, things, events and emotions that bring out the urge to use drugs or alcohol. Be mindful of them. This way, you can create an effective relapse prevention plan that helps you avoid addiction triggers.
Because you can’t avoid all triggers all the time, you need to know how you plan to deal with them. Your prevention plan should include effective coping strategies such as yoga or meditation as well as the people you plan to reach out to. Having this plan is constructive in reminding you that you are in control of your recovery.
Recovery has its share of ups and downs. But it is possible. Millions of Americans are living in recovery as we speak. To start your journey, call The Dunes East Hampton today.