Managing Triggers in Drug Addiction Recovery: Strategies for Avoidance and Coping

Managing Triggers in Drug Addiction Recovery: Strategies for Avoidance and Coping

When recovering from addiction, dealing with triggers is one of the most significant battles. Triggers can dramatically affect our mental health and cause us to easily slip back into using again. Unfortunately, triggers are all around us and are nearly impossible to avoid throughout the recovery process. Understanding what triggers are and how to deal with them is imperative. A massive part of recovery is being aware of what can cause you to fail and creating a relapse prevention plan to ensure that doesn’t happen. Throughout this article, we are going to give you a full run-down on triggers and what you or someone you know struggling with addiction can do to head towards a full recovery.

What exactly is a trigger?

Triggers are environmental and emotional cues that cause a stress response that can bring on cravings that can lead to relapse. They come in various forms, some more subtle than others.

Some triggers can be easy to identify because they bring on a state of emotional distress. However, this doesn’t mean they are easy to beat. In addiction recovery, it is vital to have an idea of what triggers are most likely to cause relapse and take note of any others you notice during the recovery process. Only with this knowledge can you make a plan of action to be prepared when they come your way.

Internal and external triggers

Triggers can be both internal and external. Knowing the difference between the two is a massive step in understanding which ones might affect you most and will help in creating a relapse prevention plan for when that occurs.

External triggers – These are more apparent triggers and can be associated with any external factors. They come in the form of people, places, things, but even smells, sounds, and seasons can be triggers that bring back cravings. Some examples of external triggers include:

  • Visiting places associated with drug or alcohol use
  • Seeing people that cause anxiety
  • Experiencing financial troubles
  • Conflict or relationship issues
  • Social events and holidays
  • Reminders of bad memories
  • Certain songs that remind a person of using

Internal Triggers – These can be much more challenging to identify as they have no physical presence. Internal triggers can be emotions, feelings, and thoughts that might be associated with substance abuse. The worrying thing about these is that they can be either negative or positive emotions, making them extremely difficult to brush aside when they occur. An essential part of avoiding these triggers is being able to identify them and seek emotional support from a therapist or loved one to help manage them. Some examples of internal triggers include:

  • Stress and anxiety
  • Loneliness
  • Self-doubt
  • Unresolved trauma
  • Fatigue and exhaustion
  • Depression
  • Anger and frustration

Identifying and managing triggers

The first step in beating triggers is being able to identify them. This involves a process of self-reflection, self-awareness, observation, and understanding of the thoughts and emotions that might lead to cravings. Here are some steps you can take to start identifying your triggers.

  1. Keep a trigger journal – This is one of the most important things a person can do to aid their recovery. Keep a journal of thoughts, feelings, and events that might or have brought on cravings. It is good to be detailed, too; take note of the people involved, time, date, location, and emotional state at the time. With this, it is much easier to notice patterns and learn what to avoid.
  2. Pay attention to your emotional and mental well-being – Recognising these throughout the entire process is essential. Not only is it important to pay attention to specific emotions such as stress, sadness, boredom, and anxiety, but it is necessary to learn to identify and appreciate what brings on positive emotions. This will help towards developing a record of possible triggers and counter-triggers.
  3. Observe environmental cues – There can be many environmental cues, such as places, people, and situations that trigger drug and alcohol cravings. It is essential to take note of any specific people, places, or situations that might bring this on.
  4. Seek professional help – Seeking professional guidance to identify your triggers can be a tremendous help. A therapist or counsellor will have the knowledge, understanding, experience, and empathy to locate and even eradicate triggers. It is important to never underestimate the help of a professional.
  5. Self-reflect – Every now and again, it is a good idea to reflect on drug and alcohol use history and patterns that have brought on cravings. In the present moment, we might not always see it, so allowing ample self-reflection time is key to success.
  6. Be mindful of social interactions – During each social interaction that takes place throughout the recovery process, it is crucial to observe any feelings or emotions that might be evoked. If any of them relate to using drugs or alcohol, that person may be a trigger. It is important to keep a distance from anyone who brings on cravings.
  7. Recognise routines and activities that are best avoided – Similarly to people, activities and routines can also bring on cravings. To avoid relapse, it is vital to understand what is best avoided. This could be anything from large social gatherings to going to work.

Ways to manage triggers during addiction recovery

Taking power away from triggers and staying in control is the key to a successful recovery. We understand that, at times, it is going to be difficult, but it is never impossible. It is imperative to develop a deep understanding of trigger management. In the following examples, we want to share some of the best ways to deal with your triggers when they come knocking.

Developing a relapse prevention plan – It will make a substantial difference to have a detailed plan to deal with relapse and cravings if they should occur. This plan should be made with the help of a professional or someone very close. It should include the steps you will take to avoid potential relapse and how you are going to navigate potentially harmful and emotionally stressful situations. It is helpful to include details of strategies to identify triggers, emergency contacts, and a thorough list of coping mechanisms, as not all of them are going to work every time.

Maintaining a support network – It is also important to develop a close and strong support network outside of rehab who fully understand the situation. These people will act as a crutch through the hard times and be there for support whenever they are needed.

Practice mindfulness and self-awareness – It is ideal to stay present in each moment throughout addiction recovery. Being aware of your thoughts, emotions, triggers, and cravings can help direct the mind to a positive and healthy place.

Find healthy distractions -Anyone who has been to rehab will be aware of the activities people engage in to aid their recovery. Healthy distractions can be tremendously beneficial in this process. It is crucial to fill life with as many as possible; some might include new hobbies, exercise, creative activities, or listening to music. Every little thing helps when it comes to building a repertoire of healthy distractions, which is a gigantic step.

Building healthy coping mechanisms – As we mentioned before, it can make a huge difference to build an extensive list of healthy coping mechanisms to assist a successful recovery. If you are unsure of what these might be, here are some common coping mechanisms that people use during recovery:

  • Practice deep breathing and meditation
  • Engage in regular exercise, and participate in group sports
  • Write down everything in a journal
  • Go outside and embrace nature
  • Never hesitate if you need to ask for support
  • Ask your therapist to help you develop new relaxation techniques
  • Engage in social but sober activities regularly
  • Practice stress reduction exercises such as yoga and Tai Chi
  • Indulge in self-care activities such as taking a bath, treating yourself, or going for a massage
  • Learn to effectively communicate your needs with loved ones and practice assertiveness
  • Establish a healthy sleeping pattern
  • Eat healthy and work on culinary skills
  • Actively seek new hobbies and groups you can get involved in

Do you need any further guidance?

If you or anyone you know is suffering from drug or alcohol addiction, remember that you’re not alone. Many people around you can help. At Calm Rehab, we are highly qualified and incredibly experienced in dealing with addiction recovery, so if you need any more advice on dealing with triggers and cravings, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Addiction recovery is no easy feat, but if you have come as far as admitting it and reading this article, you are far enough to beat it. Even if you feel uncomfortable talking to your loved ones, you can still contact our drug rehab in Bali. We are more than happy to provide you with all of the guidance that you need to beat this. Get in touch today and let us help you to create the best version of yourself.

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