As you continue along your path to sobriety, it is important that you learn to recognize your triggers so that you can avoid relapse. Triggers can be anything: a situation, a location, a person, or even an emotion. As soon as you know what your triggers are, you can prepare yourself to avoid them, as well as give yourself tools to protect yourself if you do start to slip.
Environmental triggers are one of the easiest triggers to recognize. There are certain locations that you used to use, or remind you of memories of those days that will forever be associated with substance abuse. The quicker you can identify those locations, the quicker you can avoid them. It may even be necessary for you to move to a different city to avoid environmental triggers.
Social triggers are anything that have to do with social interactions that remind you of your substance abuse. Typically this is a person — a friend you used with or a family member that you have a strained relationship with — but it could also be a type of social situation such as a party or event that can drive you to feel the desire to use. Obviously, there are some triggers that you cannot avoid,, but whenever possible, you should avoid social triggers. If you know that a certain party or event will bring up memories of your past, find a way to respectfully decline the invitation.
Emotional triggers are the hardest to recognize, as there could be underlying mental health issues or emotional problems that you might not fully understand. As you strive to avoid emotional triggers, you will have to learn how to manage your emotions. Common emotional triggers are: stress, anger, loneliness, exhaustion, depression, and fear.
Here are some things that you can do to help prevent relapse.
- Try to stay busy, but not too busy. Pick up a new hobby, take a walk, write in your journal, watch a movie, etc.
- Take an anger management class or work with a therapist to help you manage your emotional state.
- Take care of yourself. Eat right, exercise, and make sure that you get plenty of sleep.
- Always be alert, don’t get overconfident, as that can cause you to let your guard down and relapse.
- However, make sure that you build your confidence, as being full of self-pity can also lead you to relapse.
- Take it one day at a time. Instead of thinking whether or not you can stay sober forever, try to just stay sober today.