An excellent article by Kate Green gives some great tips on managing triggers after completing a residential recovery program. Green states that the real work of recovery starts after the addict leaves the treatment center or completes treatment.
A trigger is something that suddenly makes us want to drink or get high. It starts the craving for our drug of choice, for escape or the opportunity to numb out. These cravings may be set off by certain events, people or emotions.
So, what will you do when you run face-first into your triggers? Following is a synopsis of Green’s suggestions:
- Identify your personal triggers. Triggers are as different as each addict and their story, but there are some common triggers such as walking by a bar, seeing someone else drunk/high, the end of a difficult work day/week, an argument or boredom. Know your triggers and avoid them when possible. Don’t dwell on them as much as you can avoid doing so.
- Know what you are working with. Triggers and cravings are a very real part of recovery. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you won’t run into them, because you will. Learn what your triggers will be, stay open to surprises and have a plan.
- Practice your plan. Role play what you will do when you come across a trigger. You can role play on your own in the mirror. This could save your from a temporary or full relapse.
- Take care of yourself. You can handle all kinds of stress, including triggers, when you eat and sleep well and exercise. Remember the acronym HURT: Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired. These four things cause relapse. When we experience these states, we can let our guard down, reacting instead of acting and taking control.
- Do not test yourself. If you know a trigger, do not set it off by testing to see if your recovery is as strong as you think it is. You do not need to test yourself.
To learn more about addiction triggers, read here: