Immediate “Next Steps” After Experiencing Known Triggers

How to Manage Your Triggers

Cape Town, South Africa

What Is A Trigger?

The first step in breaking the cycle of cravings, urges and relapse is to identify the unique triggers that prompt the need to drink or use drugs. Triggers can be defined as any situation or stressor that creates a thought, feeling or action to use.

Triggers come from internal and external factors. Sometimes they are obvious and other times they are subtle. Triggers can come out of the blue or intensify over time. These disparities make triggers difficult to recognize because they manifest in different ways for different people.

Let’s take a look at examples of external and internal triggers.

External Triggers

External triggers include people, places, things and situations going on around you. They can be:

  • Old friends
  • An old connection or drug dealer
  • Old hangouts
  • Paraphernalia (i.e., bottles of alcohol)
  • Celebrations or holidays
  • Sporting events or concerts
  • Emotionally charged interactions
  • Certain times of the day

Internal Triggers

Internal triggers come from within and include memories, thoughts or feelings. They can be:

  • Pain
  • Fatigue
  • Panic
  • Negative thinking
  • Insecurities

Triggers are unique to each individual. What may urge one person to use drugs or alcohol may not affect another. This is why it’s important to understand which things set you off and the proper steps to take if you encounter them.

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