For people who struggle with addiction triggers, it can be a difficult journey in recovery. Triggers are typically points of vulnerability that show up at any time and can take over people’s emotions and perceptions. Sometimes the person with addiction does not even recognize the triggers. Knowing one’s own triggers as well as how to navigate a loved ones can provide support for recovery from addiction.
To understand relapse triggers better, it helps to know the most common ones and how to manage them:
- Stress management. Many people with addiction feel ‘stressed out’ a lot of the time. Sometimes it’s physiological, perhaps psychological, or even spiritual things that bring anxiety and stress. Live is like a series of triggers because stress is everywhere. Learning to cope with it is better than trying to keep stress out of a person’s life. When life is causing stress, it can lead to relapse for a person with addiction. The key is learning to focus on what can be controlled. Even if other outside stressors cannot be controlled, a person can focus on the parts that can truly be controlled, which is one’s emotions. Some ways to better manage stress include: relaxation, meditation, deep breathing, or yoga.
- People or places associated with addiction. Social contact with people from the past who are still addicted can be a massive trigger. This may be old drinking buddies, friends who used to smoke together, co-workers who hit the town on the weekends, or family who does not support recovery. Trying to stay abstinent and prevent relapse can be challenging. The best approach is to avoid people and places where an encounter might happen. It helps to think ahead about a response and stick to the plan, even at the risk of offending others. Avoiding a little social embarrassment is not worth relapse.
- Challenging emotions. People with addiction often struggle with a pattern of behaviors and emotions. Instead of allowing true feelings to emerge (sad, angry, frustrated), the natural instinct is to numb them out. Although it may help to cope with emotional discomfort, it can cause drifting away from real self-awareness when emotional discomfort is not dealt with. Therapy can help build tools for learning how to cope with difficult emotions.
- Sensations. This powerful type of trigger can come from sensual reminders of addictive behavior. This might include the smell of a cigarette or marijuana smoke, the sight of people laughing and drinking in a bar, or the smell of alcohol. It is wise to avoid these situations but they cannot be avoided altogether. Have a plan ahead of time and know what triggers may come up to actively avoid them or cope better. An accountability partner or sponsor on call is also a good thing to have at the ready.
It can be anxiety producing to think most anything can be triggering at any time. The purpose is to think about how to have a good time while engaging in positive behaviors that keep addictive triggers at bay. Even when they come up, a toolbox of resources, friends on call, and therapists ready to offer support can be just the lifeline needed to work through triggers without a relapse.
Serenity Oaks provides an intensive 5 week program to support your sobriety and recovery from addiction. We aim to provide a space where you can find out how and why you have struggled with addiction. Our therapeutic and medical support are just one of the tools we provide to help set you up for success in recovery. Call us to find out how we can help you get started: 844-720-6847.