When a person decides that they are going to break free from drugs and alcohol, they are making a significant yet positive life decision. There are a lot of challenges and obstacles along the way. Some of these are physical, and others are emotional.
The emotional component of addiction cannot be overstated. Many people battling addiction know that emotional cues can trigger them to abuse a substance, even when their better judgment tells them not to. Triggers can manifest differently in different people.
A person might see friends and family members with whom they used to drink or abuse substances. When they see these people, it triggers the positive feelings they had in the past. Or seeing friends and family can have a negative impact. A person can be so stressed out because of bad past experiences that they fall into the trap of using drugs and alcohol.
Regardless of their source, triggers are a real part of the recovery process. Anyone dealing with addiction should expect triggers and plan to deal with them effectively if they are going to prevent relapse.
A Better Understanding of Addiction Triggers
A trigger can be defined as a social situation, environmental situation, or emotional situation that calls to mind memories of substance abuse from the past. These memories have powerful emotions attached to them that cause a person to feel the desire to use a substance again. Triggers do not always lead to relapse. However, they do make it harder for a person to resist the substance they were addicted to. When a person gets triggered, they can feel sudden and intense cravings.
Addiction is a chronic disease. Like any chronic disease, it has a relapse rate. When a person is getting treatment for their condition, the chances of relapsing drop dramatically. If they are not getting treatment or not following the prescribed course of behavior laid out by their physician, the chances of relapse increase.
When a person uses alcohol or drugs for many years and creates memories of their personal routine and experience with addiction, their brain starts to develop cues that tell them when they should typically use an addictive substance. It as if they have developed a craving reflex that flips on when they are exposed to internal or external triggers.
Triggers can decrease if a person stays away from abusing a substance for a long time. However, suppose a person is going through the recovery process. In that case, they need to be mentally and emotionally prepared for triggers and know what to do about them when they arise.
Some of the most common triggers experienced during addiction recovery include:
• Social isolation
• Romantic relationships
• Mental or physical illness
Taking Intentional Steps to Avoid Triggers
If a person is determined to break free from substance abuse permanently, they need to take intentional steps to avoid triggers and make their life during recovery manageable. Part of it has to do with changing how they experience joy. They need to redefine what fun means and learn how to enjoy themselves outside of drugs and alcohol. Staying away from triggers is essential for recovery.
If a person is triggered and it does lead to a setback, they need to learn from the setback instead of just giving up. The all-or-nothing approach to recovery doesn’t work. Recovery is a process that involves taking a few steps forward, taking a few steps back, and then moving forward again.
A person in recovery battling triggers must learn how to be comfortable with the uncomfortable. The discomfort felt during a triggering occurrence is not permanent. Part of rehab is learning to cope with triggers without falling back on drugs and alcohol.
Get the Support You Need When You Need It
Unfortunately, not everyone will be as supportive of your decision to get sober as you would like. Some people may inadvertently put you in situations that can trigger negative feelings and a desire to use offending substances.
Are you resolved to make substance use and addiction a thing of the past? If so, you do not have to go at things alone. We are here to help. Our counselors are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Call us now at 833-497-3808.