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Know and Understand Your Triggers

Getting clean has its ups and downs, but there are some things in recovery that many people have in common, especially when it comes to triggers.

So, what’s a trigger? Triggers are things that are often upsetting and set an action into motion that can eventually lead people to use. Things like arguments with loved ones, feelings of loneliness, and anger are all things that could trigger a person to use. Running into an old drinking buddy might be another thing that makes you use. In recovery, you’ll hear a lot about “people, places and things” – these are all triggers that you’ll need to be aware of, and watch out for.

What are some common triggers?

  • Holidays: Many people who are in recovery find the major holidays like Christmas and New Years difficult. This is because they’re romanticized so much that almost everyone in America views them as stressful rather than fun and relaxing. No matter what your childhood was like or your current situation, something about the holiday may make you feel angry, sad, or guilty. This is especially true for people who had difficult childhoods or suffered trauma as a child.
  • People: Running into old drinking or using friends is often a trigger that makes addicted persons want to use. When you run into an old friend, you’ll want to be brief and not sit around and reminisce. Your mind can play tricks on you, and you will probably romanticize. Be wary of anyone who talks about “the good old days” when they’re talking about your addiction. Go to a meeting or call your sponsor when you run into old friends like this. Also be wary of people who don’t support your recovery – for whatever reasons – and try to steer clear of them. Some people, especially family members, may refuse to understand addiction as a disease.
  • Places: Old hang-outs, whether it’s the corner store, a bar, or even a an arcade where your using / drinking friends are around. Your mind may play tricks on you and you’ll think it’s nostalgia that leads you to return to these spaces, but it’s really a trigger that will make you eventually feel like using again.
  • Things: Now this term can sound especially vague, but in context, it’s true. Things that trigger you could be a song you used to listen to when you were getting high, or an emotion like fear or resentment that led you to use. Discovering these “things” that trigger you can be difficult, but highly rewarding. Once you learn to cope with them, you’ll feel less anxious and experience personal growth. Talk with your sponsor or a treatment counselor to help you explore the “things” that trigger you.
  • Strong Emotions: Sometimes people become overwhelmed with emotion that they haven't learned how to cope with yet. Strong emotions can be too painful or overwhelming, causing a person new in recovery to use.

Learning to cope with triggers is real work that will help you change your life. Recovery is a process that doesn't take place overnight. Addiction is a disease that can mislead you into making bad decisions. If you're feeling overwhelmed with emotions or feel like using, go to a 12-step meetings and share those feelings with somebody.  Call you sponsor or talk to a therapist if you have one. Make sure you don't keep those feelings to yourself.

Getting Help

Are you or somebody you love using drugs but want to stop? Our facilities offer a serene "home away from home" for people with substance use disorders to learn how to recover and life life without the use of drugs. Many people find peace and acceptance and start a new way of life, starting with us, every year.

Give us a call to learn more about our programs and how we can help you reclaim your life. You can reach us at (949) 279-1376 (United State) or, in Mexico (612) 153-5726 and we can answer any questions you may have.




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Hi! I’m Melissa Stailey, a freelance writer that loves to cook. I live and work in Washington, DC.