We often face many obstacles when dealing with recovery from addiction. Whatever substance we may have struggled with, whether alcohol or illicit drugs, we find ourselves faced with temptation at every turn, especially in the early stages of recovery. Maintaining the mental resilience and fortitude to resist such temptations is not easy, but, of course, it’s worth it. Protecting the sobriety you fought so hard to achieve should take precedence over all other aspects of your life, especially since anything you put before your recovery, you inevitably lose. With that in mind, how exactly do you handle drug triggers when they rear their ugly heads?
Drug Triggers and You
For those who are unfamiliar with the terminology, drug triggers or external triggers are high-risk situations or stressors that spark a thought, feeling, or action to use drugs or alcohol and engage in old behaviors associated with addiction. Drug triggers can be anything that the addict or alcoholic associates with using: people, places, or things. When an addict or alcoholic comes into contact with the trigger, it can incite an internal compulsion to use drugs and start the cycle of addiction all over again.
Some drug triggers are very specific to an individual, and others are broader and widely seen as common triggers among the majority of addicts and alcoholics. Some common examples of drug triggers are trouble in relationships (romantic or platonic), stress at work, going to a club or bar, a bottle of wine in the refrigerator, holidays, or significant events.
Even certain feelings themselves can present themselves as common triggers for relapse such as anger, sadness, or even happiness. With so many triggers seemingly at every corner, how exactly can one avoid them? Surely there is no possible way to avoid all of these triggers.
Well, you’re right, there isn’t.
However, there are ways that you can combat your drug triggers and utilize healthy coping mechanisms as opposed to falling back into old patterns of behavior.
Building Your Mental Resilience, One Day at a Time
When we first enter into sobriety, we are like newborn babies. We have spent so long in the dark world of addiction that we have forgotten how to properly function as normal members of society. We look at everything as a foreign concept, even something as seemingly minuscule as making our beds or brushing our teeth. When we enter recovery, we’re given the opportunity to rebuild our lives from the ground up, the way we see fit. This can be both a blessing or a curse, depending on the course of action we take. If we start off on the right foot and continue on the path towards recovery and sobriety, the rewards will be obvious. However, if we fail to change our behavior, we are destined to repeat old patterns and inevitably end up back in active addiction.
Building up your mental resilience to relapse triggers is a process. There are several different methods at your disposal to fight back against drug triggers. From day one you must begin actively working on combating these triggers by using different coping mechanisms that yield healthy outcomes.
1. Change Your Surroundings
As stated above, one of the most crucial things you can do is change the people, places, and things in your life to alternate ones that promote spiritual growth as opposed to stunting your spiritual growth. As difficult as it might be, leaving behind old friends with whom you used to drink or use and no longer hang around at bars and clubs may be what is best for you and your recovery. As your mental resilience against your triggers grows, you may find yourself able to be around those people and places again, but maybe not. Regardless, you should definitely make these changes in the beginning.
2. Never Stop Growing
From day one you must begin actively working on combating these triggers by using different coping mechanisms that yield healthy outcomes, in lieu of indulging. If we cease to work on ourselves and our programs, slipping into complacency, we may find ourselves becoming more susceptible to our triggers once again where once we wouldn’t have given them a second thought. Recovery is a lifelong process, meaning once you start, you can never stop. If you’re not moving forward, you’re falling backward.
3. Find a Hobby or Exercise
As cliché and cheesy as it may sound, when drugs and alcohol are removed from our lives, we may find ourselves with a plethora of time on our hands we don’t know what to do with. Idle hands are the devil’s playthings, so it’s important for your mental health to find constructive ways to use your time!
While attending recovery meetings and spending time with other sober people is great, it’s important to maximize your “you time” as well. Now is the perfect time to pick up yoga, exercise, writing, painting, or any other hobby that peaks your interest. Engaging in these types of activities relieves stress and promotes endorphin release, which is one of the natural “feel-good” chemicals in your brain, helping act as a buffer between yourself and your relapse triggers. Finding a hobby also allows you to explore and learn more about yourself and what your interests really are outside of addiction!
Often cited as the most useful skill and potent medication for all types of ailments, meditation has been proven effective across the millennia. Meditation is perfect for stress relieving, depression, anxiety, and even reducing physical pain. These are all common relapse triggers that plague addicts and alcoholics around the world, and by learning the art of meditation, you can further build your mental resilience to them. Meditation is suggested by holistic and medical professionals alike, so no matter what route of recovery you may be taking, it is sure to fortify your sobriety.
5. Seek Professional Help
Perhaps one of the most important means of mental resilience in the face of drug triggers is none other than professional help. So often viewed as a stigma, seeking professional help, especially for addiction, is crucial to succeeding in recovery. Whether it’s the initial trip to detox and inpatient treatment, or seeking outpatient programs and aftercare, what’s important is recognizing that you need a little help. There is no shame in asking for assistance; it does not mean you are weak, but rather that you’re strong enough to recognize your limits. Outpatient programs are great tools to help you continue your recovery even after you’ve left inpatient. As a lower level of care, it allows you to maintain a level of freedom while still keeping you accountable for your sobriety.
Start Your Journey to Recovery Today
Here at New Perspectives, we combine quality outpatient treatment programs with professionally-administered medications like suboxone to help you deal with both the physical cravings and your mental resilience against addiction.
To get in touch with our addiction specialists for a free consultation and assessment, you can call us at 855-627-3437 or contact us online. At the end of the day, building up your mental resilience to drug triggers isn’t easy, but it is always worth it. It is up to you to pursue recovery and keep pushing through, despite the challenges you’ll ultimately face. The ball is in your court!