So, you’re beginning your new sobriety.
Say goodbye to your former self.
That person, the erstwhile user, is now obsolete. And with a little luck and a lot of hard work that person will remain as dead as dada. As you build a new relationship with yourself, those things you used to tell yourself, all of that negative messaging, will need to be upgraded too. Like having an actor girl/boyfriend, this new relationship with the self will be a very high maintenance one. Anything taxing that drains off much needed energy from the self should be avoided – this will include revisiting old toxic relationships and perhaps even forming new romantic ones. It’s true: Many addiction experts recommend avoiding new romantic relationships in the earlier stages of recovery.
Addiction recovery can be a tumultuous and difficult time, but you already knew this.
You can feel vulnerable, weak, and emotionally raw. These feelings offer a kind of vulnerability that your former self would’ve kept at bay by abusing substances. You are entering a whole new paradigm and there will be times where it will seem like this is the most difficult thing you’ve ever had to do. There will be times you will be triggered into wanting to return to your former behaviors.
Most likely you will also have some kind of co-occurring disorder that will need to be addressed as well. In the past, you would’ve coped with these disorders by abusing substances. Now it’s imperative that you learn how to cope in new and healthier ways.
Most importantly, you will also need to learn how to manage your addiction triggers. Triggers are the stimuli that can cause a neurochemical response that induces an intense craving. Often accompanying these triggers can be emotions like anger, fear, and sadness.
Addiction Triggers can be broken down into three categories:
- Environmental: These can include loud noises, social situations, places, or events. These can be physical places such as bars, parks, street corners, houses, or other places where drug or alcohol use took place. This is the easiest trigger to avoid.
- Re-exposure: This refers to specific events or circumstances that can put the person in recovery into an uncomfortably close proximity to alcohol or drugs. When the person is within reach of the offending substances this can be the strongest trigger as well as the most difficult to resist.
- Stress: This relates to cues a recovering addict must face when they attempt to reintegrate into society after completion of a substance abuse rehab program. These stresses of coping with their new life include not having sufficient skills for handling the conflicts, stresses, and negative emotions. This trigger can be especially complicated as it is often these stresses that contributed to the person’s substance abuse in the first place.
An important aspect of de-stressing it is important to learn how to quiet the mind. This is why mindfulness and meditation and even yoga can be such important and effective tools in recovery.
How to successfully overcome your addiction triggers
Triggers are a normal and inevitable part of the recovery process. Being fearful of triggers can actually make them stronger and allows them to take over. Developing the proper attitude with triggers is essential for successful recovery.
- The most important first step must be to not allow yourself to get into places or situations that were associated with your using. This means avoiding those places where you would’ve gotten intoxicated or made drug deals in the past.
- In addition to the places, there are the people – these are known as “person-specific cues.” These cues are unique to every individual and can include things such as spending time with friends who also use. One recent study claimed that these cues can pose the highest risk for relapse.
- Some triggers can be more subtle. These can include such things as a song, clothes, or paraphernalia that remind you of using.
- Back to mindfulness: One well regarded technique in the mind over matter defense against relapse is called urge surfing. This entails visualizing the craving for substances as a large wave that needs to be ridden from beginning to end. You feel the craving, however sever, but recognize that you have the strength to remain calm and collected and in control until the feelings weaken.
- One psychologist suggests that the simplest (not to be confused with easiest) way to fight back is to simply repeat exposure to your triggers – to face them down without indulging them with a reward. Obviously, this could be extremely challenging and even the psychologist himself suggested that it was not one to be undertaken lightly.
- If you’re seeing a therapist – therapy should be an important component of any treatment plan – or a good case manager, tell them about your triggers. Together you can work through them and experience retriggering in a safe and healthy environment.
If you or a loved one have an addiction to alcohol, contact BLVD Treatment Centers. At BLVD Treatment Centers we custom tailor our recovery programs within the safe and nurturing confines of our rehab treatment centers. Located throughout California, in Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego and in Portland, OR, our mission is to assess the severity of your addiction to help you achieve true recovery within 30 days. Call us now at 1-866.582.9844.