In recovery, you’re going to have triggers from time to time. In fact, you might have them daily, even more than once per day. For this reason, it’s important to become more and more aware of them so that they don’t control your ability to stay sober.
What’s challenging about them is that they are somewhat unconscious. You might see an old drinking buddy out of the corner of your eye and not really register it.
Suddenly, you might have a craving to drink even though you’ve been sober for three months. Triggers are subtle. They can easily disrupt our mood, thinking, and emotional stability.
Typical Triggers for a Recovering Addict Include:
- A particular time of the day (or night)
- A particular time of the year (winter)
- Celebrations with family and friends
- Getting Paid
- Advertisements for alcohol
- Seeing old friends or a drug dealer you once knew
- Drug paraphernalia
- Parties and social situations
- An intense feeling, such as anger or excitement
- A flashback of an unpleasant memory
One of the best ways to be prepared for a trigger is to become aware of the triggers you tend to have yourself. Although the list above provides common triggers, knowing what triggers you specifically can empower you.
For instance, if you know that you are triggered by a certain event, let’s say getting your paycheck on Fridays, then when Fridays come you can be extra diligent about not giving into those triggers.
You can say to yourself, well, I know that I always feel like buying a six pack when I get paid, but I’m not living that lifestyle anymore. I’m going to call a friend instead, and perhaps we can watch a movie together.
Becoming more and more self-aware is the key to stopping triggers before they get the best of you. In fact, self-awareness is probably the key to all of recovery. The more you are aware of yourself and what makes you tick, the more you can make different choices, avoid relapse, and change your lifestyle entirely.
- Make a list of the triggers that are uniquely yours. Although there are some common ones, you’re likely going to face a handful of the same triggers throughout your recovery.
- Grow your self-awareness. You can become more and more self-aware through journaling, meditation, yoga, or participating in therapy. You may find other practices that facilitate your growing awareness. The more you engage in these practices the more you can become aware of yourself and prevent triggers from taking over.
- Take good care of yourself. When we get enough sleep, eat healthy, get regular exercise, we are less vulnerable to triggers. When we are psychologically and emotionally well, little things don’t bother us. We feel good and that can be a great shield of resilience.
- If a trigger gets you, don’t let it get you down. If it turns out that a trigger influences you to the point of relapse, commit to sobriety again. Often, relapsing makes sobriety stronger. You have more fuel for the fire of your recovery. Sometimes, a trigger might not cause an entire relapse, but it might stir things up inside enough to weigh you down. A trigger might make you emotionally tired or stressed. Once you’re past the challenge of it, use this experience too to get stronger against triggers.
Triggers are challenging because they are so subtle and often unconscious. However, you can become more and more aware of them and prevent them from negatively influencing your life. You can prevent them from getting in the way of your sobriety, and instead use them to fuel the success of your future.
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