The world around us often houses external triggers that interfere with addiction treatment , but so does the world within us. Thoughts, feelings and moods can often make for triggers that are just as powerful as the ones we encounter in the environment. During addiction treatment, you’ll need to identify the places, people and things that increase your desire to use drugs or alcohol, but you’ll also need to think about ways to keep your own mind from working against you.
We often use drugs to mask negative emotions, but not every threat to your resolve will be tied to a disagreeable feeling—your own drug use may be more closely tied to celebration than melancholia. As you focus on your addiction treatment and staying abstinent or becoming abstinent for the first time, be cautious of these internal triggers and try to identify which ones pressure you the most.
A substance addiction is a constant drain on your time. As addicts, we spend countless hours finding drugs, using drugs, recovering from drugs and thinking about drugs, and the departure of these preoccupations during addiction treatment can often leave a gaping hole. During the initial phases of your recovery, free time may prompt your mind to wander towards thoughts of using. When you’re bored, you may imagine what a great time you would be having if you used. Banish this temptation by staying as busy as possible—structure your time and fill it with the healthy activities that reflect the abstinent individual you’re becoming.
Drug use can often be the crutch we use to deal with problematic emotions. Perhaps your previous patterns of drug abuse were prompted by anxiety over your workload, or maybe you’re strongly compelled to use whenever you feel depressed, lonely, frustrated, angry or irritable. During your recovery, you’ll need to focus on dealing with these feelings in a more positive way. Rather than covering up this feeling with drugs, you’ll need to try to resolve the underlying emotional problem. Therapy, in both group and individual settings, can help. Speak with your addiction specialist about your options for overcoming these emotions.
Drug use can be tied just as closely to good feelings and a celebratory mood. This is especially true of sexual stimulation—if you’ve frequently used drugs to amplify your sex drive or sexual experience, arousal may also invite cravings to use your drug of choice. Parties and celebratory occasions can often be triggers because of the excitement we associate with our use during these times. If you find that positive emotions serve as triggers in your own life, think about ways to enjoy them that don’t involve using drugs. If sex seems tied to your drug use, you may need to abstain from sex for a time until you’re able to view the two as separate entities. Again, consulting with your addiction specialist will be the best way to develop a strategy to overcome the triggers tied to these emotions.
Once you’ve identified the triggers that threaten your sobriety the most, you’ll need to develop an action plan that will help you avoid and anticipate their effects. This should include “thought stopping” strategies, removing yourself from and avoiding high-risk situations and developing drug refusal skills. Your addiction treatment will help you learn how to use all of these strategies, so be sure to speak with your addiction specialist about how to cope with triggers in the path to your own recovery.