How to Identify and Avoid Triggers

Triggers are a bit like a light switch. When they’re flipped, it leads you back to thoughts of a person, place, or event. Triggers aren’t always a terrible thing, as they sometimes take you back to a good place. For example, seeing a special teddy bear on your shelf might trigger thoughts of wonderful times you spent with a grandparent.

However, they can be really negative – especially in the case of addictions. Addiction triggers during recovery can send you back in time to when you were using your substance of choice. Those memories have the ability to make you relapse – not something you want to do.

It’s true that you can’t necessarily avoid every potential temptation. However, by identifying your triggers and taking steps to avoid them, you can greatly minimize their impact.

What Are My Triggers?

The first step is determining exactly what those triggers are, and they can be different for everyone. Additionally, they can be both external and internal triggers.

Internal triggers can be any thoughts, emotions, or memories that make you want to go back to your previous ways. For example, feeling sad and lonely might lead you to pick up a drink. Boredom, low-self esteem, and memories of a lost loved one can also lead to relapse.

Understanding the internal triggers is important, but you also need to determine what triggers those triggers. For example, does a certain type of music or movie lead to you feeling sad and lonely? Does binge eating ice cream or potato chips lead to your low self-esteem? Or does a picture on your wall lead to negative or sad memories?

Other external triggers can include anything from a bar on the corner to friends from the days you were using. Once you determine your internal and external triggers, you can move on to the next step.

Avoiding Triggers

Avoiding your triggers can take some work, but it is possible and it’s definitely worth it. Your exact plan will depend on your specific triggers, but the following examples can help.

  • Change your route: If you are a recovering alcoholic, for example, walking or driving by a bar on your way home can be an issue. Try changing your route to avoid such locations.
  • Find new friends: As much as you might love your old friends, if they are addicts, it’s going to be tough hanging around them. Try finding new friends that are involved in healthier activities.
  • Start a hobby: Boredom leads to idle hands – not a good thing when you’re trying to recover. Find a hobby to keep yourself occupied.
  • Consider a job change: How much does your job affect your addiction? For some, it can be way too much. Imagine trying to stay away from alcohol while serving or bartending at a bar or club. If your job is contributing to your addiction, it’s best to consider a new job.

Get help: Recovering without support can be challenging. When triggers hit, it’s always best to have someone to call. Additionally, having help from a place like Impact Recovery Center to recover from addiction, identify triggers, and develop healthier coping mechanisms can provide the support you need to succeed.

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