Addiction recovery includes dealing with triggers to drink or use. Triggers can be physical, like a craving, or emotional, where an emotional reaction to a life stressor causes a need to drink or get high. Managing triggers and learning healthy coping skills are integral to addiction recovery and part of our relapse prevention programs at Hickory Treatment Centers.
Learning your triggers and developing a plan to work through them ahead of time will help you avoid relapse and improve healthy ways of dealing with emotionally charged situations. Although each individual may have personal triggers, certain substance abuse triggers are almost universal.
Substance Abuse Triggers and Their Affect on Your Sobriety
Simply put, a trigger is anything that brings up thoughts of using, the sensation of drinking or getting high, or a temptation to drink. Triggers initiate an intense craving for drugs or alcohol and may either be physical, like a billboard with a frosty mug of beer, or can arise from words, actions, or the behavior of another person.
Much of early addiction treatment, either inpatient or intensive outpatient, centers around identifying personal triggers and how they lead to substance abuse. Professional addiction therapy and your honest self-evaluation give you insight into your triggers.
Common Addiction Triggers
External or physical triggers are physically encountered. They may be obvious, like a syringe or that billboard with the cold beer, or part of a routine, such as stopping by a gas station for a six-pack on your way home from work. Avoiding physical triggers may be as simple as changing your environment, such as taking a different route home.
Emotional triggers are harder to identify than physical ones; sometimes, you may not realize that you have an emotional trigger until you’re experiencing one. There is an acronym in recovery that addresses four common emotional states that cue cravings: HALT. If you are craving drinking or a drug, ask yourself if you are:
Taking a minute to identify your emotions prompts you to take healthy steps to correct your situation. For example, many people who are in recovery from alcohol abuse may be triggered to drink when their blood sugar drops – they may be hungry, and eating a snack or a meal can help ease the triggered craving.
Dealing With Addiction Triggers
Many addicts may benefit from Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), as it helps to re-form associations between emotions and substance abuse. You consciously develop new ways of identifying and processing your emotions instead of using drugs to cope.
Sometimes, triggers can be unexpected, so be prepared with an action strategy to quickly get out of the situation and find somewhere safe to work through the emotions that arose. However, if you can’t immediately leave the situation, take deep breaths, and rely on the emotional coping mechanisms you learned in therapy.
Other common ways of dealing with both physical and emotional triggers include:
- Mindful meditation
- Eating healthy and getting regular exercise
- Participating in regular group and individual therapy
- Setting personal boundaries to avoid triggering people or situations
Do You Need Addiction Therapy to Help With Triggers?
If you’re struggling with addiction or having trouble managing your triggers and cravings, we can help. Hickory Treatment Centers offers therapy to help people get sober and learn healthy ways to manage stressors, triggers, and cravings. Contact us today for a compassionate assessment and to explore your treatment options.