How Do I Handle Triggers?

Addiction recovery is fraught with many challenges. You’ll manage your first one by just getting over the hurdle of reaching out for help. After that, you’ll work through your withdrawal symptoms and begin rebuilding your life. With all of that behind you, it might seem as though the rest of your journey should be smooth sailing. But, this isn’t always the case. A large part of your next stages of recovery is figuring out what tempts you to do drugs or use alcohol. When you’re wondering how do I handle triggers, it is possible that you are being hit with overwhelming temptation. Or, you might be trying to get a grip on your triggers before they cause a relapse. Either way, handling triggers is possible, and it will get easier as you work through the ones that bother you the most.

The first thing you’ll want to know is that triggers can be anything that causes you an emotional reaction that includes having a craving for drugs or alcohol. In many cases, triggers are negative events that could include losing a loved one or getting fired from a job. Sometimes, triggers can be situations that might otherwise be considered positive. Celebrating a birthday should be a good thing, but it can quickly turn unhealthy if you feel triggered to pick up an alcoholic beverage to fit in with the crowd.

Most triggers can be classified as either internal or external. Internal triggers are ones that happen within yourself. Experiencing depression is an example of an internal trigger. An external trigger is one that happens out in the world. A specific bar might be a trigger that makes you want to stop for a drink. Even reading a book or watching a movie could be a trigger if you see or hear about someone doing drugs or experiencing a traumatic event that brings up painful emotions. Since triggers can often seem to come out of nowhere, it is best to have a set of tools already prepared to help you address them when they arise.

Learn Your Triggers and How to Manage Each One

When you are new to addiction recovery, it can sometimes seem as though triggers exist at every turn. In fact, handling triggers might be an all-day battle. You might even encounter new triggers years down the road that require you to take immediate action. During your first phases of recovery, you’ll work with your therapists and other members of your support network to identify common triggers that apply to your situation. You’ll create a list of them along with strategies that make it easier to handle each one. For instance, you might decide that it is better to take a new route that doesn’t take you past that old bar you used to stop by after work. Finding healthier ways to manage your triggers makes it possible to stop them from interfering with your sobriety.

Avoidance is just one of the many ways that you might choose to handle triggers. Addiction professionals also tend to recommend these strategies for trigger management as well.
•Calling a member of your support network
•Using a positive distraction, such as engaging in a hobby
•Finding a healthier alternative, such as enjoying a non-alcoholic beverage
•Doing a meditation or journaling
•Exercising to burn off negative energy

In therapy, you will also learn that there are things that can feed your triggers. Being hungry, angry, lonely or tired are all situations that can leave you vulnerable to giving into temptation. Part of your therapy will include learning how to recognize your emotional state and correct these vulnerabilities before you have a relapse. Sometimes, just having a snack or taking a nap is all it takes to help restore your emotional balance again. This is also why developing and sticking to a routine is encouraged for people in recovery. You’re less likely to give into temptation when your basic physical and emotional needs are met.

Are you worried about triggers interfering with your recovery? We’ve got the right resources for helping you learn how to handle temptation. Give us a call today at 833-820-2922.

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