“But there was always the curious mental phenomenon that parallel with our sound reasoning there inevitably ran some insanely trivial excuse for taking the first drink. Our sound reasoning failed to hold us in check. The insane idea won out. Next day we would ask ourselves, in all earnestness and sincerity, how it could have happened.”
Page 37, Big Book of Alcoholics
Therapists talk about them, people in meetings talk about them, and now social media has beautifully coined the term. Triggered. What are drug triggers? Why does everyone warn so heavily against them? What’s the big deal? Are they really as dangerous as we have been led to believe in our stay in substance abuse treatment? How can we avoid them?
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What Are Drug Triggers
In short, a drug trigger is any internal or external stimuli that can remind a person of using or bring on a craving to use. They really vary from person to person and can range in anything from a specific place to a song, to an object like tin foil or a bottle opener.
The thing about drug triggers, and why they can be potentially dangerous, is because they can immediately remind the person of a time when they were using, and if the person hasn’t started working a program of recovery yet – it can potentially lead them to a relapse.
Different types of Drug Triggers
Like we previously mentioned, each recovering person will find different things that trigger them, here a few common examples of the most common triggers.
- Being Around Family and Old Friends
- Death of friends or loved ones
- Concerts, Sporting Events
- Certain areas where a person previously used
- Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Stripclubs, Casino’s
A lot of people find that even everyday activities can be pretty triggering in early sobriety, this is usually due to the stress of not having drugs or alcohol to get this person through the day. However, there is good news – there is a way for these triggers to stop.
How to Avoid Them
“And we have ceased fighting anything or anyone – even alcohol. For by this time sanity will have returned. We will seldom be interested in liquor… We are not fighting it, neither are we avoiding temptation… Instead, the problem has been removed… That is how we react so long as we keep in fit spiritual condition”
Page 85, Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous
it can potentially lead them to a relapse. We are actually promised several times throughout the first 164 pages that we WILL undergo a complete psychic change, and our obsession will be removed.
In the beginning of our sobriety, the best way to avoid drug triggers is to literally try to avoid those people, places, and things that we know might set us off. However, there are some things, such as stress, or boredom, that we have to get a little more creative about in avoiding. These things are the quiet triggers, the ones that don’t bring forward that angry or sad emotion that many of us felt the need to muffle with drugs immediately, so these are sometimes the ones that are a little more sneaky and dangerous.
When boredom hits, the best thing to do is literally get up and change whatever you’re doing. I’m not necessarily saying that you need to stay busy during every waking moment because self-care is also very important, but it is definitely a good idea to have your day planned out ahead of time.
Boredom = Active Brain = Troublemaking Thoughts
Stress can be another common trigger for a lot of people in early recovery, as they are most likely in a new place, surrounded by new people, living on their own, working a new job, meeting a whole new daily schedule, so it’s pretty common for people to get a little overwhelmed from time to time. The trick to alleviating stress (there are actually a lot of helpful things, and most of these can work for both stress and boredom relief):
- Find a Hobby – a new one that you have always wanted to try, or an old one that you gave up on during your addiction
- Having something creative or active that we feel passionately about helps to increase our endorphin and serotonin levels.
- It could be a sport, playing an instrument, creative arts, singing, crafting, hiking, rock climbing, snorkeling, the gym, yoga, etc.
- Practice Relaxation Techniques – If you find that you are consistently stressed out or having cravings from drug triggers, it might be helpful to learn some meditation and relaxation techniques. The mind is a powerful thing, get that under some sort of control and it can help immensely.
- Practice circular breathing
- Allow yourself some time every day to partake in self-care – a hot bath, tea time, meditation time, music meditation for 5-10 minutes, etc.
- Take that Minute of Pause – The pause is crucial, the pause is where your Higher Power comes in. If you are getting squirrelly, take that pause in between the thought and the action, or even just the initial thought and the one that follows it, to send some gratitude to a Higher Power.
Work a Program
After a little while, we will hopefully get started on the process of working the steps, the sooner the better, regardless of what 12 step fellowship you choose to work in.
The Steps of either fellowship are what ensures that drug triggers and cravings will no longer haunt us. If we are thorough and willing to do these steps and to change, then we will. If we are willing and open-minded, we are guaranteed a spiritual awakening. Long story short, we are guaranteed to have drug triggers and cravings removed from us.
Sure, many people report that even with decades of sobriety, they can still experience a drug dream every once in awhile, or even a brain flash to the idea that a glass of wine with dinner would be nice. The reason they don’t relapse? Because they have worked a program of recovery and have gained the ability to learn to take that pause when they are troubled or distressed, no matter the situation.
We are absolutely guaranteed to have the ability to go anywhere and do anything in the world that other men and women can do, so long as we stay in fit spiritual condition, i.e., working a program of recovery!
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Freedom From Addiction
If you or a loved one is suffering from alcoholism or addiction, understand that you are not alone in your struggles! If you are ready to change your life and finally be free of your addiction, then FindAddictionRehabs.com can help. We can give you the jump start you need in order to experience the recovery you have always wanted. Our holistic programs are unique in that they don’t just treat the addiction, but rather they treat the whole person, so if you are interested in finding out more information, please do not hesitate to give us a call today at 1-877-959-7271.
Anna M. joined Find Addiction Rehabs with extensive experience in the field of addiction treatment. As a former Nurse Practitioner in Miami, she found her passion for addiction treatment when a family member was lost to his disease. With each article and resource, she hopes to save other families from experiencing the anguish of a loved one’s passing due to drinking or drugs.