When you have been addicted to something for years, your life begins to revolve around that substance and the act of consuming it. As you become sober you will have to learn to deal with triggers all around you and constant reminders of your former addiction. Triggers can come in the form of people, places, activities or even emotions that make you want to use again.
A key process in recovery is identifying your triggers and learning to develop effective strategies in handling them. Cravings and the urge to use again are aspects of addiction recovery that you must be completely prepared to deal with especially after you have completed rehab treatment. Here are some crucial steps to managing addiction triggers as a sober person.
Know Your Triggers
While you are in recovery treatment you will have the opportunity to familiarize yourself with your particular triggers in a safe environment. As you learn what particular things cause you to want to use again you will become more adept at identifying a situation that will bring up triggers. Knowing your triggers as well as possible can help you be prepared when they come up and you can execute some strategies instead of giving in to your cravings.
Have a List of Strategies
Once you learn more about your own personal triggers, you can talk with your therapist about coming up with some strategies that will help you. Certain triggers can be dealt with through simple strategies like waiting out the craving or letting it pass. Other, more serious triggers may require you to try to escape or avoid the situation because the craving is too strong.
Leaving a bar, changing the channel on a particular show, or avoiding certain places may all be necessary strategies of escape. Another strategy could be substituting thoughts or cravings with healthy activities or positive thoughts.
Create a Trigger Plan and Practice
Once you have identified and made a list of your major triggers you can come up with a plan for dealing with each of them with various appropriate strategies. Your therapist or sponsor can help you create an effective plan for handling certain circumstances.
It can be beneficial to practice your plan by doing some role play and reacting appropriately to a hypothetical trigger situation. Practicing will make you more confident about your ability to say no to cravings when a real trigger problem occurs.
Take Care of Yourself
Being healthy may not seem important in the process of addiction recovery but eating the rights foods, exercising and getting enough sleep can improve your mental and physical health in ways that help fight cravings. You can also take care of yourself emotionally by talking to a therapist or friend when feelings become problematic.
Your physical and mental state can have a lot to do with how you handle triggers. It can be harder to avoid cravings when you are tired, hungry, lonely or sick. Optimal well-being can reduce the frequency of urges to use again and will keep you stable and strong enough to face triggers effectively.
Don’t Test Yourself Unnecessarily
Even though you might feel strong in your resolve to handle triggers, there is no reason to go out of your way to be in a difficult situation to test yourself. It is much better to avoid triggers when possible because things may never go exactly as you expect.
As long as you are managing your triggers when they happen naturally, then it means that you are effectively handling your recovery. Testing yourself is only an added pressure that could prove to be too dangerous in the end.