Is it possible to overcome or desensitize to certain triggers over time?

Addiction recovery is a challenging journey that requires individuals to navigate various obstacles and triggers that can potentially lead to relapse. Triggers are specific stimuli associated with substance use or the effects of substance use disorder (SUD). These triggers can be emotional, social, or environmental and have the power to influence cravings and desires to use substances. However, it is possible to desensitize oneself to these triggers and overcome their negative effects. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore various common triggers experienced in recovery and provide techniques to desensitize oneself to these triggers.

Understanding Triggers and Their Impact

Triggers are warning signs for substance abuse that can lead to relapse if not properly addressed. They can be associated with emotions, social situations, withdrawal symptoms, or common patterns of behavior. Being aware of one’s triggers is crucial in avoiding relapse and further understanding one’s recovery needs.

To address triggers effectively, it is important to think about potential stimuli that may influence the urge to engage in substance use. By recognizing these triggers, individuals can develop strategies to overcome them and desensitize themselves to their negative effects.

Common Triggers in Recovery and Desensitization Techniques

Social Media: Navigating the Digital World

For many individuals, social media can be a trigger point. Seeing posts about substance use or comparing oneself to others’ seemingly perfect lives can induce cravings and feelings of inadequacy. To desensitize oneself from the negative effects of social media, it is important to limit its use and modify the content one consumes.

  • Limit Social Media Use: Spending excessive time scrolling through social media can become addictive in itself. By setting boundaries and reducing the amount of time spent on social media, individuals can avoid potential triggers.
  • Choose Content Wisely: Altering the types of content one engages with on social media can help minimize triggers. Unfollowing or muting accounts that promote substance use and focusing on positive and inspiring content can be beneficial.
  • Practice Mindfulness: When negative self-thoughts arise while viewing others’ posts, take a moment to pause and reflect. Shift the focus to positive aspects of one’s own life and practice self-gratitude instead of self-shame.

Social Isolation: Breaking Free from Loneliness

Self-isolation is a common coping mechanism for individuals in recovery. Feelings of shame and embarrassment can lead to prolonged periods of isolation, which can be triggering and increase the desire to use substances. Overcoming social isolation requires active engagement with others and the recovery community.

  • Seek Support: Building a support system is crucial in overcoming social isolation. Reach out to trusted individuals within the recovery community or seek assistance from a sober living home. Engaging in group meetings and activities can help combat feelings of loneliness.
  • Distract Yourself: Find enjoyable activities to engage in during alone time. Keeping the mind occupied and focused on positive and healthy pursuits can help minimize the desire to use substances.
  • Step Out of Your Comfort Zone: Ask for help from others in your community to build confidence in going out and avoiding self-isolation. Overcoming the fear of social interaction and embracing new experiences can be empowering.

Stress: Managing the Pressure

Stress is a natural response that everyone experiences. However, individuals in recovery may be more susceptible to using substances as a means to cope with stress. It is important to desensitize oneself to stress triggers and develop alternative coping mechanisms.

  • Breathwork and Meditation: Utilizing breathwork techniques can help alleviate stress and promote relaxation. By focusing on deep breathing and visualizing a slower heart rate, individuals can train their bodies to respond differently to stress.
  • Healthy Coping Strategies: Engage in activities that help manage stress in a healthy way. Exercise, journaling, and spending time in nature are all effective methods of stress reduction.
  • Seek Professional Help: If stress levels become overwhelming, it is important to reach out to a therapist or counselor who can provide guidance and support in developing healthy coping strategies.

Nostalgia: Embracing the Present

Nostalgia for past experiences involving substance use can be a triggering factor for relapse. Reflecting on the positive moments associated with substance abuse can create a desire to return to old habits. Overcoming nostalgia involves shifting focus to the negative aspects of substance abuse and embracing the opportunities for growth in recovery.

  • Remember the Negative Effects: Remind yourself of the negative consequences of substance abuse. Reflect on why you started your recovery journey and the improvements you have made in your life since then.
  • Discuss with Support System: Reach out to your support system and discuss the positive aspects of your current situation compared to your past. Sharing your progress and hearing others’ perspectives can reinforce your commitment to recovery.
  • Embrace the Future: Focus on the possibilities and opportunities that lie ahead in your recovery journey. Redirect your energy towards new sources of enjoyment and personal growth.

Addressing Individual Triggers

While the above triggers are commonly experienced in recovery, it is important to recognize that each person may have unique triggers. Desensitization techniques can be tailored to address individual triggers effectively. Here are some general strategies to consider:

  • Experiment with Techniques: Try different desensitization techniques and see which ones work best for you. It may take some trial and error to find the most effective approach.
  • Seek Guidance: If you are struggling to overcome a specific trigger, reach out to your support system or seek advice from professionals. They can provide insights and suggestions based on their experience and expertise.
  • Persistence and Patience: Desensitizing triggers takes time and effort. Be patient with yourself and continue to practice the techniques that work best for you.


Desensitizing triggers in recovery requires self-awareness, perseverance, and a willingness to explore new coping strategies. By recognizing common triggers and implementing desensitization techniques, individuals can overcome the negative effects of triggers and stay on track in their recovery journey. Remember, recovery is a personal and unique experience, and what works for one person may not work for another. Stay committed to your journey and seek the support and guidance you need to overcome challenges and achieve long-term sobriety.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, reach out to a healthcare professional or addiction specialist to explore the most effective therapeutic approaches for your unique needs. Remember, recovery is possible, and there is support available to help you unlock the path to addiction recovery. Call us today at 833-820-2922.