What is a “trigger” in the recovery process?
A trigger is any form of stimulus that sets you back down the path into drug or alcohol use. It could be the smell of alcohol, driving past a bar you used to frequent, or even something less direct, just a color or a simple object, that reminds you of a past traumatic experience. It’s different for every person; a trigger for one person usually has no effect on another.
Understanding your personal triggers and how to manage them is one of the most important things a patient can learn at Alpine Recovery Lodge. You can’t avoid your triggers forever. You have to know how to confront them without backsliding.
Understanding Your Triggers
Knowing what your triggers are and how to deal with them is all-important in the recovery process.
Your personal stimulus could be a certain person you used to drink with or do drugs with. It could be the anniversary date of a certain event in your life which was especially traumatic, painful, or horrible in some way. Or it could be nothing specific at all, just the general piling on of stress until you reach your breaking point.
Even before you seek treatment, you probably have a pretty good idea of what your triggers are.
During substance abuse treatment, especially during an in-patient program, you will be tested on facing your triggers in a controlled environment. This will include being forced to confront your triggers and focusing on how they make you feel.
Do your triggers make you depressed, or do they make you furious? Or, most like, you feel a complex mix of multiple emotions… knowing exactly what kind of reaction to expect from your triggers will help you stay on the wagon after you’ve completed treatment.
Learning how to not let your triggers affect your behavior will be your biggest test once you re-enter the real world.
Sometimes confrontation isn’t the best approach. You might have to avoid places that serve alcohol. Or you might have to find a new job (if you work at a bar… well, we don’t have to tell you what’s necessary).
Yoga or meditation, or just exercise in general, will help. These techniques reduce stress and bring a sense of calm to your mind and body.
Even after treatment, everybody needs some assistance now and then. If you feel yourself responding to a trigger in a bad way and the techniques you learned in treatment just aren’t working, don’t hesitate to ask someone you trust for help.