How to Cope with Triggers in Recovery

How to Cope with Triggers in Recovery

For those in recovery, managing our triggers is a task we face from the get-go. With the immediate escape through drugs and alcohol being gone, we need to learn new and healthy coping tools to minimise the threat that triggers may have to our sobriety. At Transitions Bali, we help our clients develop a range of healthy coping strategies should they come up against triggers in the outside world. 

What are Triggers?

A trigger is an emotional reaction to something based on a previous negative experience. In active addiction, we may react to seeing or hearing from certain people or returning to old places we frequented. These triggers can lead to emotional and physical distress, leading to anger, frustration and fear. It is vitally important that those in early recovery learn how to deal with triggers healthily. With using and drinking no longer a solution for all of our problems, we must learn new tools to regulate ourselves emotionally and avoid the possibility of relapse. Preparation is vital in relapse prevention – knowing your triggers enables us to prepare and implement positive responses. 

 

 

We can Divide Triggers into Two Categories: Internal and External.

Eternal Triggers

External triggers are physical things outside of us that invoke feelings or emotions. External triggers are sometimes easier to manage as we can physically remove ourselves from a situation causing them. Some examples of physical triggers are:

  • People: friends, family, coworkers, former drug dealers/drinking buddies 
  • Places: we used to frequent active addiction
  • Things: e.g. drug paraphernalia, empty pill containers
  • Television or movies depicting drug and alcohol use
  • Stressful situations, e.g. job loss

Internal Triggers 

Internal triggers happen inside the body – these might be thoughts or feelings that result in a desire to drink or use. Internal stimuli can be more challenging to manage than eternal ones, as we cannot just run away from our feelings. However, it is possible to learn tools that can decrease their intensity. Some examples of internal triggers 

  • Anger                                    
  • Fear
  • Frustrations 
  • Grief  
  • Loneliness 
  • Boredom 
  • Stress
  • Depression
  • Anxiety

 

Making a Plan

At Transitions Bali, we are committed to helping clients identify their triggers and develop a plan of action for if and when they occur. Our group and individualised therapy, as well as client workbooks, help clients to see their triggers and then, as a team, we set up a plan for how to deal with them. Simple methods such as removing oneself from a situation and taking a walk or speaking to a trusted friend or therapist are just some solutions that can help alleviate the stress and tension that triggers create. 

 

Without preparation and a plan of action, a trigger for an individual in early recovery can lead to reactionary behaviour with dangerous outcomes. We believe the best plan of action is a preventative one; we want to help our clients to find an empowered solution to their triggers, one that they feel confident and capable of carrying out when they depart treatment. 

 

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