Even one with a solid 15 years of sobriety under his or her belt may be thrown for a loop when an unfamiliar person, place, or situation unexpectedly produces an urge or temptation to drown feelings in a bottle of Jack or return to the mind-numbing comfort of a handful of prescription pills. While some triggers can catch an individual completely off-guard, they are most often preventable and completely manageable. When handling urges to drink, it is important that you utilize three techniques that have proven extremely successfully in swiftly diminishing cravings.
How To Cope With Triggers in Recovery
Firstly, it is crucial that you recognize and identify the trigger you are experiencing. There are two main types of triggers – internal and external. When the way you feel causes you to want to pick up, this is an internal trigger. A desire to use could be spurned by a negative emotion, a positive emotion, or a physical feeling or discomfort. Internal triggers are less avoidable than external triggers, but with some self-control and coping mechanisms they can easily be remedied. External triggers consist of people, places, times of day, or specific events that offer opportunities to drink or force you to recall past use. These are often more obvious and easy to avoid – simply be cognizant of situations you feel weary about and remember to prioritize your sobriety. And if entering a high-risk situation seems somewhat unavoidable, remember to bring along a sober support or have one on-hand to call if you begin to feel antsy.
Once you recognize your triggers, simply begin by avoiding the things you know will cause you to feel overwhelmingly uncomfortable. If you keep track of what triggers you, you will quickly gain an acute awareness of what it is you should be evading. Socially, at least in early sobriety, it is good to avoid events that you know will involve drinking and drugging. Eventually, when your sobriety is more stable and you have thoroughly learned appropriate and effective coping mechanisms, you may likely be able to socialize with old friends in old situations that were previously too dangerous for you to be involved in.
Remember to Think Things Through
Of course, it is impossible to avoid all potential triggers. Some may be unexpected, and some may just require you to suck it up and tough it out. You are strong, and there is nothing you cannot handle or make it through with a little controlled breathing and the phone numbers of a few close sober supports. If you find yourself in a high-risk situation you cannot leave right away, take a moment to remind yourself why it is you decided to get sober in the first place. Play the tape through – if you pick up now, where will you be in a week? A month? Back in detox, sitting through the same redundant group therapy classes, feeling dopesick and depressed? Is it really worth it? There is no trigger you can not make it through if you practice coping techniques and stay strong.