What Are Triggers and How To Deal With Them in Recovery

 In Life in Recovery

One thing that is helpful is to understand there are physical triggers and psychological triggers. If a person used to drink alcohol when feeling nervous, then if they get nervous it is very likely they will crave a drink. This is an association of the physical feeling of nervousness with taking a drink.

Psychological triggers may not have a physical sensation associated with them. People who are early in their recovery long for happier times in the past. They often reminisce about the time when using drugs or drinking alcohol made them feel good. Most start our their drinking/using career in this way. It may take years for that feel-good sensation to dissipate and change into a life disaster but an addict/alcoholic will always eventually end up in that horrible place called “bottoming out” if they don’t die trying.

To overcome triggers, PsychCentral says to have a plan to deal with them.

There are a few things that work for many people. Here are some things to try:

  • Distraction: This method is to hit the trigger with a powerful distraction the moment the trigger happens. Go for a walk or a jog around the block. Jump in the shower. Play a favorite video game. Eat something. Do anything to change what is happening immediately in order to take your mind off of the trigger.
  • Talk: Talk therapy or talking with a sponsor about triggers can lessen a trigger’s impact. Fully imagining the experience of a trigger and not using or drinking over it, helps re-program the brain with a different response.
  • Tough it Out: Fight the trigger with an intense mental challenge of it. Instead of falling for stinkin’ thinkin’ that helps rationalize a slip, think about the worst experiences instead. One drink/drug is too many and 1,000 is not enough. Remember, the time you woke up in a pool of your own vomit not knowing how you got there? This has not yet happened to you? Well, it will and worse than this, if you keep drinking and using.

Medically-Assisted Programs

For the seriously addicted, there are medications that may help deal with triggers. A person needs to be under close supervision by a medical practitioner and only use the pharmaceuticals prescribed for their type of addiction. The medication differs depending on what substance is the abuse problem. This should be temporary and try to avoid switching one problem for another addiction. That will not help.


Triggers are going to come up, and they are really hard to deal with. However, with enough practice, it is possible to find a pathway to sobriety that overcomes the triggers. Few people have a direct path to success. Many have to try and then try again. Even if you only make it through a single day without using or drinking, it proves that it is possible. You can do it again, even if you slip, and then add more sober days on your road to full recovery. If you or a loved are struggling with addiction, don’t be afraid to reach out. At North Hills Addiction Treatment Center, we’re always here for you. Contact us today.

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