Today, in the year 2021, the word “triggered” may feel somewhat overused. But, at the same time, the word and its meaning are reasonably accurate. People get triggered by events, people, places, situations, and all these factors pulled in together can significantly affect their general mood. The fact is, more than just substance abusers and ex-addicts become triggered.

In fact, we all get triggered by one thing or another from time to time. In the everyday hustle, getting triggered can sometimes be a funny or humorous experience. But triggers can be severe, mood changing, mind-numbing, even life-altering events that occur. Suppose you or a loved one is in addiction treatment, looking to enroll in a rehabilitation program, or is soon to graduate from a recovery center. In that case, it is vital that they and you know everything you can about triggers and personal hang-ups.

The Definition of the Word “Trigger”

As you may have guessed long before you ever stumbled upon this article, the words “trigger” and “triggered” can have a wide variety of meanings. From mechanical actions, pieces of equipment to human emotion involvement, “trigger” is a multifaceted word form. When defined as a verb, the word “trigger” is used to describe the event in which an intense, adverse emotional reaction is set off in someone by another’s actions. Another definition of the word “triggered” refers to the event in which a person, place, activity, or situation provokes the initiative to respond in a negative or overly emotional way.

Today, the words trigger or triggered are used in a particular manner. Triggers themselves can be anything. They can be events, places, people, words, odors, colors, or even songs that cause a person to remember or recall a past negative experience or traumatic event/situation. Today trigger warnings are labeled everywhere, on anything that someone may feel reminds them of an adverse event in their life. Of course, trigger labels can only put on common trigger points that span large populations of people. Otherwise, anything could hold the potential of triggering a person into a negative response.

Triggers and trigger warnings are nothing new to our society. But as the internet, mainstream media, cyberbullying, and more have begun to pick up speed, increased content producers are warning consumers of the potential to encounter a triggering image, sound, ideal, etc., ahead of time. They do this to allow their consumer base a chance to stop watching, change the channel, cease listening, or get out of the room before they are faced with something that makes them relive an experience they much rather forget.

Unfortunately for most people in the drug and alcohol addiction community, triggers are numerous. Most people who abuse drugs or alcohol have extremely harmful backgrounds, high-stress levels, and poor emotional regulation skills to begin with. It is not their fault; it is the cards life has handed to them. Many of us would fall victim to one form of substance abuse or another if we experienced intense levels of stress, traumatic events, rough upbringing backgrounds, financial distress, and more. It just so happens that many people who struggle with extreme traumas are subject to having drugs used around them as they grew up in highly stressful, frightening conditions. These people grow to use the same substances that caused them grief, to begin with.

What are Some Common Addiction Triggers?

It is essential that you remember not every substance abuse disorder is born or develops in the same way. Addiction looks different in the lives of everyone who ends up abusing drugs or alcohol. Therefore, the events that led them to misuse these types of substances may also be vastly dissimilar. Likewise, their addiction triggers can be vastly different from one person to another as well. Addiction triggers are the events, smells, people, places, etc., that cause an individual to recall either the events that led to substance abuse or the traumatic experiences around them during their time of use.

Addiction triggers are dangerous. They can cause a great deal of mental distress, emotional turmoil and even led to moments of indecision or even relapse. Of course, addiction triggers are many. And everyone can have a distinct set of circumstances that causes them to become triggered. But some triggers in the world of substance abuse and addiction are more common than others. So, what are triggers in addiction? The most common addiction triggers include:

  • Stress – home, work, school, etc.
  • Locations – an old friend’s house, bars, streets, an old workplace, etc.
  • Specific dates – Holidays, anniversaries, time of day, etc.
  • Moods – intense moments of fear, extreme stress, sadness, shame, boredom, etc.
  • People – an old friend, ex-coworker, family member(s), spouse, acquaintance, etc.
  • Smells – like certain foods, places you used to use like restaurants, something you used to use while abusing, etc.
  • Tastes – like certain foods, drinks, etc.
  • Noises – specific songs, music genres, the sound of rain, etc.

Addiction triggers can be broken down into three sections; emotional, environmental, and social. Events like losing a job, a loved one, breaking up with a significant other, encountering an ex on the street, driving by a place you used to frequent when you used, etc., can all culminate in addiction triggers. Even spending a considerable amount of time alone or not getting enough sleep can be a trigger for addiction. Addiction triggers affect everyone differently. Some individuals may feel highly stressed out. Others may feel as though they are spiraling into a treacherous path and losing self-control.

Therefore, it is so important to be in tune with yourself and know your addiction triggers. Sometimes it can be hard to get an idea of what might send you into a negative spiral. But some triggers can be clear as day. Addiction is complex, and you have gone through a lot to beat it. But addiction triggers will always be something you need to take into consideration. You need to teach yourself to be prepared to handle these triggers. Your drug and alcohol rehabilitation program, like the relapse prevention services at St. John’s Recovery Place (SJRP), can help you build the necessary coping skills you need to avoid relapsing and dealing with triggers in health manners, so they don’t overtake you when they occur. Life after rehab ends is a balance. You just need to find the settings that work best for you.

How to Stop Cravings and Deal with Addiction Triggers

So now you know what are some triggers in addiction recoveries. And now you want to know how to stop cravings and deal with addiction triggers in a healthier manner. As we stated earlier, addiction and triggers affect everyone differently. Therefore, the coping methods you use may be vastly different than someone else who suffers from a remarkably similar condition as you. But never mind the differences. Suppose you are looking for techniques to utilize in your everyday life to prevent addiction triggers from overtaking you and falling into relapse. In that case, there are plenty of cooping methods for you to try. Some of the most commonly utilized strategies for dealing with addiction triggers include:

  • Joining a support group
  • Talking to your therapist
  • Getting some moderate exercise in
  • Taking plenty of time to rest
  • Connecting with trusted friends
  • Avoiding areas, you know, will cause you to destress
  • Eating well-balanced, nutritional meals
  • Practicing mindfulness and meditation
  • Practicing breathing techniques to help you focus and destress
  • Exploring a new hobby
  • Reframing your thoughts and negative perceptions when they occur
  • Drinking plenty of water

You can use plenty of healthy coping skills to help you avoid an addiction trigger spiraling out of hand. Life is a balance, and finding ways of coping with triggers will take you some time to do. Luckily, many addiction rehab centers offer clients the opportunity to engage in relapse prevention training. Trainings like these can help teach you new techniques to help you relax, take a step back, and deal with a trigger in a more positive light. Even if you find that a trigger is getting the best of you one day, you do not need to worry. This is not the end of the world. You can still call your therapist or a good friend if you need help to calm yourself down or get distracted.

Healing is not a linear process but one that goes around, twists, and turns in the road. Sometimes an addiction trigger may get the best of you. Other days you may be able to conquer your addiction trigger with excellence. And if none of these methods of coping work for you, or you need to try a more mild or extreme coping strategy, you can speak with your therapist to discuss your options. Addiction triggers are rough, but they are not the end of the world. You can overcome not only addiction but the triggers that come with it as well. Develop a plan for yourself to follow when you encounter an addiction trigger and stick to it. You will be glad you put a plan in place for yourself.