Understanding and Dealing with Triggers in Sobriety
Recovering from a serious addiction can be a long, drawn-out, and debilitating process. Unfortunately, recovery is rarely achieved in a linear fashion. Any addict knows that the danger of relapsing will always be around the corner. However, in order to stay clean, it is important to always stay aware of the power and impact that potential triggers can inflict. Today, we are going to take a close look at what triggers are and how recovering addicts can deal with them in a healthy, positive, and clean way.
Understanding Relapse Triggers
When we talk about relapse, what are we actually discussing? Relapse is when someone turns back to their addiction in order to start using again. The sober alcoholic who drinks after getting fired from their job would be considered a relapse scenario. With that being said, relapse is so much more than just a single event. Instead, relapse is part of a process, and that process is spurred on by triggers. Relapse triggers are specific moments, actions, or feelings that break the psyche of an addict in recovery. Let’s take a look at some common relapse triggers.
Exposure to Substances – An addict living in sobriety should never be put in a situation where they are near the substances that they abused. For example, a former alcoholic would potentially be triggered by going out to the bar with their friends. Addicts in recovery need to do everything in their power to stay away from this situation, including watching other people consume their trigger substance.
Major Life Changes – Any time that an addict is trying to get sober, they need to pay attention to major changes in their life. Major life changes include getting a new job, moving to a new home, or starting a new romantic relationship. These changes can add a level of pressure to a recovering addict that causes them to relapse. If there is the option to hold off on making major life changes, that is the best scenario. If a major life change happens to an addict, they need to lean on their support system for help in order to prevent a relapse.
Financial Stress – Money is one of the major reasons for addiction and relapsing. Financial stress can add a layer of emotional trauma to an already unstable situation. In early sobriety, money problems can be particularly dangerous. While much of recovery is focused on staying physically happy, recovering addicts must also pay attention to their mental wellbeing. When dealing with financial stress, leaning on a support group is a must.
Emotional Shifts – All emotions operate in a similar way. Being overjoyed can make someone just as reckless as being depressed, stressed out, or frustrated. Recovering addicts need to work hard in order to embrace and understand the impact that their emotions can have on their lives. Finding emotional balance is incredibly important when trying to live a clean and healthy lifestyle.
Old Routines – Finally, many relapses can be triggered by the user falling back into their old routines. If you used all the time when you were around person X, Y, and Z, it stands to reason that you will do so, again. Recovering addicts who are serious about changing their lives must also change their routines. You can’t do the same thing and expect different results, after all.
Preventing Triggers During Sobriety
Triggers aren’t always going to lead directly to a relapse. In fact, in a vacuum, triggers don’t have to be a damning experience. With a firm grasp on their danger, as well as an understanding of potential solutions, it is possible to avoid relapsing altogether. However, dealing with triggers is not going to be easy. In order to make the task easier, consider following these simple tasks.
Connect With Your Sponsor – If you are living a sober lifestyle, you still need to stay connected with your sponsor. If you don’t have a sponsor, join a local support group in order to get one. Talking to your sponsor when things get hard can be a great way to reenergize yourself while emotionally separating from whatever has triggered you. If you won’t get a sponsor, at least speak with a loved one or mentor who can help walk you away from relapsing.
Pursue Medical Solutions – While you focus on getting your mind right, you’ll also want to follow the advice of your doctor. If you are trying to work away from chemical dependency, your doctor may have a viable medication to help ease the process. Alcohol addiction, for example, can be made easier by a prescription for Disulfiram.
Change Your Mindset – Finally, make sure that you are also trying to change the way that you think. Guided meditation, therapy, and substance abuse counseling can all help you strengthen your mental fortitude against potential relapse.
Part of staying sober is knowing how to handle your triggers. No matter how hard you try, you might eventually find yourself being tested by a trigger. When you do, consider the information that we outlined above. Stay connected to your sponsor and your primary care physician throughout the process in order to maximize your chances of recovery.