Completing treatment for substance abuse or alcohol addiction is a major accomplishment. But the real work starts when you walk out the door. You will encounter cravings for your drug/alcohol of choice, and for any escape. You will encounter triggers in the form of events, people, and emotions that will make you want to drink or get high again. You may ask yourself, “what can I do when this happens?”
Here are 5 tips for managing triggers during recovery from addiction:
Identify your personal triggers. Everyone is different, so every recovering addict’s triggers are different as well. Some of the most common triggers are walking by a bar, seeing someone who is drunk or high, getting a paycheck, the end of an exhausting workday or week, getting into an argument with someone, and being bored.
Know what you are working with. Triggers and cravings are a real part of recovery. Don’t fool yourself thinking that you won’t experience triggers and cravings. Instead, know what your triggers are, and have a plan for when you feel a trigger or craving.
Practice your plan. Role play, with a friend or even just with yourself in the mirror, practice what you will do when you feel like using again.
Take care of yourself. You can handle triggers more easily when you are eating and sleeping well, exercising, and remaining aware of your emotions. Be familiar with H.A.L.T. hungry, angry, lonely, and tired. These things are known to cause more lapses and relapses. Being aware of your emotions helps you identify when you feel any of these four things and you can take action.
Do not test yourself. If you know that walking by a bar will trigger you, don’t test it to see how well you are doing. You may be able to resist that time, but the seed of a trigger is planted and next time it may not be so easy to resist.
Managing your cravings and triggers can be a struggle when recovering from addiction, but following these tips can make it more doable. If you don’t think you can manage these triggers on your own, seek help. Counseling can be a good way to learn how to better manage and recover from your addiction.
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