Learning to cope with stressors, triggers, and urges is a part of each step of the recovery process. Whether an individual is just beginning their detox program or is preparing to celebrate their first year sober, managing triggers is essential for maintaining sobriety. However, that doesn’t mean that triggers can’t also be a guiding force. After addressing a trigger or particularly stressful event, the scenario can be a great source of information on how an individual can further fine-tune their recovery strategies or better understand the kinds of triggers that are more difficult than others.
This approach can empower each individual to overcome stressors or triggers in the moment and further understand their relationship with recovery and how they can mold their environment and lifestyle to avoid such triggers in the future.
What Are Triggers in Recovery?
Triggers are commonplace throughout recovery and can take any number of forms. Objects, topics of discussion, commercials, specific environments, or anything else that reminds a person of their previous engagements with an addictive substance and tempts them to use substances again are classified as triggers. Reminders of past guilt, anniversaries of traumatic experiences, and stressful experiences can all influence one’s recovery.
The brain might be programmed to react to this extreme stress by demanding an addictive substance if it is how an individual used to cope with stress in the past. These are intense experiences where an individual comes into contact with a thing or situation that causes an overwhelming feeling of powerlessness, guilt, and desire to reengage with addictive substances. Learning to navigate these experiences and ground oneself in their sobriety is a complicated and essential task for those in recovery.
While it may be common to slip or relapse during the recovery process because of the intense nature of triggers, it is not a necessary part of the recovery process. Preparing to cope with the inevitability of these triggers is essential from the beginning of one’s recovery journey. It is never too early to begin searching for and building upon effective grounding techniques to cope with them daily.
How Triggers Can Guide You
Despite the potential for a destructive outcome, triggers can also help guide an individual if looked at objectively. Experiencing a trigger can indicate that certain aspects of one’s life may need more direct attention than others. For some, experiencing triggers more often while tending to errands or otherwise engaging in social events can indicate that such interpersonal skills may need to be further tuned. Those in recovery and the professionals involved can begin to explore more interpersonal strategies. This can result in a heavier focus on group therapy, team-based activities and practices, and effective communication techniques to help express themselves to supports effectively during grounding.
Others may find that triggers become more prevalent when moving through certain physical spaces. This can indicate a need to look at one’s various environments and turn a heavier focus on one’s living situation and the availability of supports. It can also prompt the repurpose of certain rooms or spaces to take on new connotations. Exploring more experiential therapies, such as art, writing, or music, can help create new hobbies in an area that previously caused a trigger and helps to ascribe a new connotation to that place.
Finding Ways To Objectively View Triggers
Using a trigger to inform one’s recovery path is a powerful tool, but it can only be adequately utilized if an individual can objectively understand the nature of that trigger. Experiencing triggers is an incredibly intense experience, and all of one’s focus needs to be set on trying to ground oneself. However, after a trigger has passed and an individual has successfully grounded themselves, it can be essential to look back on the different factors involved.
Journaling about which people were present, what was going on, and the location can provide important information, even if they seem innocuous at first. By looking back on these things, especially if an individual experiences another trigger that seems to share certain traits, they can become more empowered to understand their unique situation and hone in on unique elements, strengths, and difficulties throughout their recovery journey.
Texting supports in the moment can also be another way of recording certain pertinent pieces of information and can be used to get another opinion on the intricacies of one’s unique situation. Comparing one’s notes over time and sharing these things with professionals can uncover otherwise latent areas that may need more focus.
Triggers are an unfortunate inevitability throughout the recovery process. Learning how to handle their intense effects and how they can guide you through refocusing your recovery efforts can be a crucial skill. We at Avalon Malibu understand the unique and challenging role that triggers and stressors play in addiction recovery and invite you to embrace your unique recovery story. We offer an array of therapeutic approaches, including art, writing, music therapy, neurofeedback, and individual and group approaches, all designed to help you better understand your triggers, work on relapse prevention, and thrive in your newfound recovery strategies. All of these services are available on our beautiful campus, which provides an atmosphere of fresh air, support, healing, and community. For more information on how we can individualize your time with us or speak to a caring, trained staff member about your unique situation and recovery, call us today at (844) 857-5992.