Understanding Our Triggers and What Keeps Us Safe

As we leave our recovery process, we find that, unfortunately, the world hasn’t changed with us. We have worked to change ourselves at the deepest levels, but all that work hasn’t impacted the world we live in. Our old vices and temptations still exist and are still waiting for us out there when we come out on the other side. They are still there to tell us to indulge one more time and try to undo everything we worked so hard to rid ourselves of. Relapsing is a very real threat in our lives after recovery, and it is a very serious thing to keep in mind.

 Relapsing is defined as “a deterioration in someone’s state of mind after a temporary improvement”. Essentially, it is falling back into your old, unhealthy habits after working to improve yourself. Relapsing is not just one single event that happens, but rather a cycle of behaviors that involve the cycle of addiction. Having a drink one night and cutting yourself off is not a relapse, but it can be the catalyst that can cause you to reach a point of relapsing. There are three stages that can make up the whole of relapsing: relapsing through thoughts, relapsing through behavior, and then relapsing through controlled use. You may find yourself thinking about using again; these thoughts may influence and affect your mood and treatment of others. Then comes your relapse through behavior. You believe that you’ve earned a drink or indulgence after getting through recovery; you’re cured so what does it matter? Finally, the relapsing through controlled use. If you control your consumption and intake of the substance, you’ll be fine. In fact, using it in a controlled manner can help you function in your daily life. It is at this point that relapsing becomes an event, or something that has happened and its conclusion is set. This is where a former addict may be brought into the first step of the addiction cycle, where their controlled use slowly grows in frequency and amount, eventually losing control as before and causing the person to spiral into it once again. It can be a scary thing, especially with how it easy it can seem to fall back into it. If these temptations are still all around us, how can we avoid relapsing and stay afloat?

Your first step should be in identifying triggers, both emotional and physical. An emotional trigger may be stress, fear, anxiety, depression, and frustration. If you find yourself feeling any of these emotions, it can be easy to want to indulge in order to help cope with them. A physical trigger could be things in your environment. A person who reminds you of using, places that remind you of using, or ever attending a party where using is part of the social dynamic. All these things can add up to causing you to revert back to the unhealthy lifestyle that you left behind. It is extremely important to know what triggers apply to you, which triggers affect you the most and cause you the most harm. If you can identify what you are vulnerable to, you can work to ensure that you avoid those triggers or cope with them.

Coping with triggers can take the form of many different processes. First of all, find and know your support system. Friends and family are there to help you and by telling them how you are feeling, what you are thinking, they can help you move on and keep you accountable. Always be honest with the people in your system so that they know everything that’s going on. Attending meetings will also help you. Consistently exposing yourself to a group and environment centered around the recovery process you went through can help keep you grounded and remind you of why you left your old behaviors behind. Keep reminding yourself of the negative impacts that your use had on your life. Implement reminders and self-talk to help keep strong against the temptation. Tell yourself that you’re not alone in your struggles, that you are not the only person who experiences and struggles with triggers. Tell yourself that you can avoid triggers and that you are stronger than your urge to use. Finally, distract yourself. Get up and move, do something physically, that will take your mind off your urge to use again. Go for a run, walk, lift weights, anything that you can think of that will help you dull the feelings of using. Start a new hobby to fill the time that you may have once spent using a substance. Find the tactics that you need to keep your urges at bay.

You cannot expect the world around you to adhere to what you now need in your life. Drinks, drugs, and temptations will always exist in the world, and it will always be on us to stop ourselves from giving in to those temptations. You don’t need to be afraid of living your life; you are strong enough to adapt to it. 

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction or mental illness, do not hesitate to contact the team here at TrueRecovery.com. Our program, founded in 2014, is built around finding what’s best for you to overcome your addiction. Our facility is located in Newport Beach, California, with our supportive housing located close to our campus in Costa Mesa. Take advantage of the local beaches, nature preserves, and Orange County community while we fight for you. Contact us at (866) 399-6528 and [email protected]