The Road To Recovery: Coping With Triggers

Coping with triggers is commonplace when it comes to addiction recovery. All alcoholics have events, people, and emotions that remind them of a time when they weren’t sober. Part of recovery is learning how to deal with those triggers and avoid relapsing when they find themselves in a situation that otherwise may have caused them to drink in the past.

Recovery is all about growth, so it’s important that addicts are prepared to learn and grow when they start treatment. Some people believe that treatment is a one stop shop or a cure all that will turn out people who are perfectly cured of their alcoholism. That just isn’t the case. Even after leaving a treatment program, people will have to work hard to maintain their sobriety every day.

Most Common Triggers

A trigger is something that pops up in someone’s life and brings up memories. Triggers can be people, places, objects, and even smells. Triggers can be attached to anything, like memories of trauma or abuse. In this case, they’re attached to the memories of drinking. These triggers remind alcoholics of past times in their life and may make them feel the urge to drink again. It’s important for addicts to learn strategies and coping mechanisms to ensure they don’t relapse.

Just like each person’s recovery is unique, the triggers that people experience through the recovery process are also unique. What triggers some people may not trigger others. However, there are many common triggers that alcoholics have in common. There are two different types of triggers, internal and external.

External triggers are more common, and often are what people are referring to when they think of the typical trigger. External triggers include places that a person may have drank alcohol at before, being around other people that are drinking, seeing alcohol, times of celebration, and being around people that remind the alcoholic of who they were before they got sober.

Internal triggers have more to do with one’s internal thoughts and feelings. They may include headaches, stress, mental health issues, negative or challenging emotions, anger, and more. Whatever led the person to drink in the past may be considered triggering to think about in the present.

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How To Handle Triggers In Everyday Life

When it comes time to handle these triggers in real life, alcoholics who are in recovery should have a plan in place. After an addict stops drinking initially, it will be more important to avoid a trigger that might easily convince them to drink again. As alcoholics get further and further into their sobriety, they may be able to cope more easily with their triggers.

For example, for an alcoholic who has recently quit drinking, it might be difficult for them to be around people who are drinking. They may not be able to step foot in a bar. A person who is a few years sober, however, may feel more comfortable taking part in these activities that used to trigger them more heavily.

That’s not to say that people who are far into their recovery don’t still experience triggers, because they absolutely do. However, with years of practice, the triggers that people experience will change and coping mechanisms will develop, allowing them to go longer and longer without being affected.

Post-Treatment Statistics: How Often Do People Relapse?

Recovery is not linear, and while some people may relapse right away, others may relapse 5, 10, or even 20 years after initially quitting drinking. It’s important for people in recovery to remember that relapse isn’t the end of a recovery journey. Many people relapse and slip up throughout their journey, and it’s often a learning experience.

In fact, about a third of alcoholics relapse during their first year of sobriety. However, a relapse doesn’t have to turn into a full-blown addiction. There are many ways to get back on track after a relapse occurs.

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How To Get Back On Track After A Relapse

If someone experiences a triggering event that causes them to relapse, they may fear that they’ve backslid, regressing to who they were years ago, but this isn’t the case. A relapse doesn’t reset anyone’s progress. When someone relapses, the best thing to do is use it as a learning experience. What triggers caused the relapse? How can those triggers be better avoided in the future? What tools can be utilized to help face triggers? How could a support system help?

An alcoholic should always take notes on triggering events, relapses, and slip-ups. This information can greatly help them in the future. Learning from one’s mistakes is a great way to progress even further forward.

They can also use the notes they took to share what they’ve been going through at group therapy or Alcoholics Anonymous. By talking about what they’re going through, they may be able to discover where they went wrong or how to better prevent the same thing from happening in the future.

Receiving Treatment After A Trigger Causes A Relapse

Learning how to manage your triggers is instrumental toward your success, but if you’ve recently relapsed because of a triggering event, going back to a treatment facility will help you start fresh once more.

For more information or to find a treatment facility, contact a treatment provider.

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