It’s a fact that addiction can occur to anyone at any time. There are no socioeconomic, ethnic or religious limitations to this disease. It might be affecting your life right now.
Once you become dependent on a substance, it’s difficult to see the world without it in your life. You’re trying to “kick the habit,” and your progress is moving along. However, there are triggers you may encounter that can set back your recovery. When you get to know common triggers and how to cope with them, recovery could be much easier.
What Are Triggers?
Triggers are cues in the environment that encourage drug use in certain individuals. Every person has a different set of triggers.
Triggers can be incredibly powerful on both physical and mental levels. Consider a few triggers that many people deal with each day, such as:
• Scents that remind them of substance use
• Locations or people who are reminders of past activities
• Access to a favored drug
A trigger can catch some people by surprise and result in them being very vulnerable. At this point, each person has a choice to make to continue their sobriety or relapse. No matter the past drug of choice or the trigger, identifying the scenarios that impact the mind can help you cope.
Pinpointing Personal Triggers
There are real physiological reactions that can occur during a trigger episode, such as:
• Elevated heart rate
• Anxious thoughts
When you feel these reactions, observe your surroundings. Write down the circumstances that are occurring at that moment. A trigger will reveal itself during this process.
Your personal trigger points can vary. Some examples might include:
• Seeing a person under the influence
• Hearing a specific song
• Passing certain locations around town
Coping with trigger points means that you must be honest about your reactions. There’s no shame in recognizing these scenarios. You have a chance to empower yourself as a result of your observations.
Starting With Self-Preservation
When a trigger strikes the mind, it’s hard to concentrate on anything else. Start your coping mechanisms by thinking about self-preservation. Every addictive substance is bad for the mind and body. It ages and breaks down tissues that are otherwise healthy.
By looking at the substance from a self-preservation perspective, a trigger can be broken down. Compare the drug’s effects on the body to a chronic disease, such as cancer. You may not see the tissues in decline, but it’s still occurring.
The human mind is normally fixated on self-preservation. It’s ingrained into the brain. Use this natural reaction to fight off temptation. You want a healthy life that’s free of any substance damage. Giving into temptation could create health problems that can be otherwise avoided.
Avoiding Negative Habits
Fighting your temptations conjures up both positive and negative thoughts. You may have successfully fought off a trigger last week, and mental praise was the positive impact of this situation. However, you might currently be feeling low and coping with more cravings than ever before.
It’s easy to see the cravings as weaknesses. Beginning to put yourself down is the natural progression. These negative feelings can include:
• Giving up on your goal
In these cases, remind yourself that cravings are a normal part of life. Everyone has cravings for different things. Being addicted to a substance only means that you have more cravings than other people.
Don’t put yourself down. Mentally confront these feelings and turn them into positive outlooks. Your cravings may subside over time.
Taking Care of the Body
Your quality of life plays a part when it comes to trigger influences. At times, you may feel stronger or weaker when a trigger confronts you. Psychiatrists and researchers have narrowed down certain emotions or bodily sensations that contribute to relapse or giving into temptation, such as:
One of the simplest tips for a successful recovery is taking care of your body. These guidelines can help you feel better every day:
• Sleep between seven and nine hours each night.
• Eat a balanced diet.
• Exercise around 150 minutes each week.
When you exercise and eat right, the body gives off natural hormones that act as highs. You’ll feel better, which will help give you strength to fight off temptation in its many forms.
Cutting Unhealthy Ties
Humans are creatures of habit. It’s only natural to fall back into certain habits, especially if you’ve just been through rehabilitation or detoxification. You need healthy habits, however, because unhealthy routines will lead to trigger points that are difficult to overcome.
Take account of who was an unhealthy influence in your life. These people might include:
• Friends who enable you
• Individuals who deal the substance
It may be a challenge, but you need to completely cut ties with these individuals. Removing unnecessary temptations from your life is a healthy way to start on a sober pathway. Allowing these individuals into your life will only create extra stress that strains your sobriety goals.
Focusing on the Mind
Although addiction is certainly a physiological state, there’s also a psychological component to it. Your mind may be swimming with concern, regret and other emotions. These feelings are entirely natural, but you’ll want to work on improving your psychological health.
Begin with positive thinking. Sit down and meditate on a subject. Consider the simple things in life, such as sunsets, wind through the trees or flowing water. If you ever feel like a trigger is getting the best of you, use your meditation to calm the mind and body. Scientific studies suggest that meditation can calm you down after only a 10-minute session.
Remind yourself that your mind is more powerful than those temptations. Focusing on meditations gives you a chance to step back from the trigger and move forward without its influence.
Coping with triggers means that your life may be full of ups and downs. Don’t let this fact deter your goals, however. Familiarize yourself with the concept of urges. Feeling an urge is a reaction to a stimulus. For example, you just saw a sign advertising pizza, and a sudden urge for that food is now on your mind. Urges pass with regularity. That pizza craving might go away after 10 or 20 minutes because you focus on another subject. Apply this concept to addiction triggers. An urge may be incredibly strong, but that doesn’t mean it will be a constant thought for hours or days. Calm yourself and know that it will pass.
Distracting yourself is still one of the best ways to cope with a trigger. From the moment you recognize the temptation, think about a diversion that you can accomplish. These diversions might involve scenarios such as:
• Walking in a park
• Helping out a charitable organization
• Reading a book
• Calling a friend
You may be tempted right now, but a diversion helps undermine that urge. Being focused on an activity forces the temptation to be reduced in urgency within your mind. At some point, you might forget about the trigger that just bothered you. The diversion will also be more rewarding in the long run.
Concentrating on Downsides
Another way to fight off your triggers is by focusing on negative components. This strategy may seem counterproductive to wanting to stay positive about yourself. However, concentrating on the negative aspects of drug use is a strategy that enables sobriety.
Remember back to the times when a drug may have made you sick, caused you to lose work or created stress with your loved ones. These memories aren’t good ones, and that fact works in your favor. Associating the substance with negative sensations can help you fight any triggers.
Go a step further and ask loved ones about any negative scenarios that occurred in their presence. You may not remember some of these hard times. These realities can help you in your sobriety. They take away the power inherent to triggers in the first place.
Avoiding Certain Triggers
Diversions work for most scenarios. However, you don’t have to face every temptation head-on. Avoidance is a perfectly acceptable choice to make in your recovery world. Be conscious of the environment around you and avoid places, like bars and clubs, that remind you of using substances.
A friend’s house may also be a trigger area. This friend was probably an enabler, which means that you shouldn’t be near him or her in the first place.
There’s no weakness associated with avoiding areas that are damaging to your sobriety. Taking control of your life is part of the process. A person who’s willful about their surroundings can find success in a clean life.
Practicing Mental Strength
Many individuals are intimidated by the fact that triggers tempt them. Staying indoors and isolating yourself isn’t the answer. Instead, it’s time to strengthen your mind with a role-playing game.
Ask a loved one to play the drug dealer. Create a role-playing game that involves a temptation. The person might offer you imaginary drugs. Use this situation to practice your mental strength. Facing a loved one is easier than the real scenario, but it prepares you for the real world.
Practice several different scenarios so that there’s no real shock if you happen to encounter real substances in the future. If someone or a specific situation tempts your mind, recall the role-playing games to strengthen your resolve. Sobriety is your reward.
Leaning on Loved Ones
Your loved ones can help you on several levels. Role-playing is just the start of their love and support. If you’re feeling tempted, ask your loved ones to help you by:
• Taking a walk with you
• Talking with you about your concerns
• Watching a funny movie with you
Develop a routine with a family member or friend where you participate in a sport or a game. Playing video games might be a fun choice that brings the entire family together. Change the activities if they become tiresome; there is an unlimited number of activities that can be shared among family and friends.
Seeking Out Support Groups
When you need more support with your triggers, find support groups in your area. There are groups today for nearly every substance. They’re led by professionals who understand your situation. Make friends in these groups so that there’s a support system to lean on when your loved ones aren’t present.
It helps any recovering person to have a friend with similar struggles. Share your worries, dreams and triumphs with the person. In many cases, this person may become a lifelong friend.
Be aware of support groups being held in your area on most nights of the week. You should be able to join in on any group if the need is there.
Thwarting the Boredom
A scenario that’s often overlooked as a trigger is boredom. If you’re in recovery and you find that you have a lot of time on your hands, try and stay busy. Donate your time to a worthy cause. Charitable organizations are always in need of volunteers. Think about local organizations that might interest you. The key is to enjoy the activities. Focusing on the substance use issue takes a backseat when you’re more concerned about someone else’s success.
Being able to identify your triggers is a step in the right direction toward recovery. Sobriety is the ultimate goal. It may not be easy, but you can fight those personal demons and win.