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Coping with Triggers: Strategies for Maintaining Sobriety in Outpatient Care

Old temptations will arise as you take new ground in coping with addiction. Still, you can conquer them!

The first step is recognizing the triggers, feelings, thoughts, and situations that led to substance use. Then, you can apply tried-and-true ways to resist and overpower the temptations. This strategy will help you avoid relapse.

Here’s how to cope with relapse triggers and where to turn for help.

Common Triggers in Recovery

Disturbing Emotional or Physical States

An acronym we use in addiction recovery is “HALT.” It stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and Tired. These stressors can weaken your defense against the lure of drugs and alcohol.

Other loaded emotions include:

  • guilt
  • frustration
  • insecurity
  • shame
  • anxiety
  • depression

Coping Tips

First, try to eat healthy meals and sleep on a regular schedule. Also, have a network of supportive people to help you manage overwhelming emotions. Talking through feelings can diffuse their power.

Once you detox and stabilize, you’ll want to continue rehab with outpatient therapy. Trained counselors will teach you substance abuse coping skills. These are effective methods of combating addiction urges.

Relationships With Other Users

A sure path to relapse is hanging out with fellow users. So, steer clear of them.

Coping Tips

It takes strength to sever ties with a boyfriend or girlfriend addicted to substance use. If this situation applies to you, take the help of objective people, such as an outpatient counselor.

Objects Promoting an Addiction Habit

Any items that remind you of drugs and alcohol can prompt the desire for them. For instance:

  • driving past a bar where you were a regular customer
  • a pick-up location for illegal drugs
  • ads for alcoholic beverages
  • empty bottles of wine, beer, or prescription drugs
  • needles, pipes, and other drug paraphernalia
See also  How Does Depression Affect The BrainĀ 

Coping Tips

Recall the many perils of substance use that have unraveled your life. Among them are financial hardship, poor health, panicky states, and muddled thinking. Then, pursue a healthy activity, such as enjoyable exercise.

For example, you might go biking, work out at a gym, or stroll along a beach. Or do something creative, such as cooking, sketching, or planning a garden.

Also, if your home has any old bottles of alcohol or prescription drugs, toss them in a black garbage bag, and keep them outside.

Dramatic Lifestyle Changes

Any new challenge or situation can throw your emotional balance off-kilter. For instance, while advancing in a career is exciting, it can also feel unsettling. Such triggers in recovery include:

  • a promotion
  • starting a new job
  • divorce
  • a loved one’s death
  • unemployment

Coping Tips

Work with a counselor to process the impact of a traumatic or emotionally-charged event.

Habitual Drinking on Special Occasions

Meanwhile, celebrations can prompt the urge to drink a toast. Examples are birthdays, weddings, and holidays. You can stop at one drink. Still, your brain and body will crave more. That’s the force that fuels addiction.

Coping Tips

To avoid binging at a happy gathering, designate a buddy. Explain that you’re coping with addiction, trying to resist the pull of alcohol. Then, ask your buddy to stop you if you reach for an alcoholic beverage, reminding you of your goal.

Telling Physical from Emotional Triggers

Coping with triggers involves discerning physical temptations from emotional ones. Here’s how they differ.

  • Physical – External stimuli that launch the desire for drugs and alcohol. Examples are places, people, and activities you associate with substance use.
  • Emotional – Internal catalysts tied to your thoughts and feelings. Emotional triggers can be subconscious, undetected by your awareness. Thus, they can take more work to recognize, process, and handle.
See also  EMDR and Brain Health

Coping Tips

Whenever you crave drugs or alcohol, identify whether the root is a physical or emotional trigger. Labeling it will create some distance, lessening its power! Then, practice the coping skills above and those you’ve learned in outpatient treatment.

If you’re still struggling, contact a supportive friend or family member. They can coach you through the urges until they pass, which they will shortly.

Then, discuss how you handled coping with triggers in your next therapy session.

Making a Relapse Prevention Plan

Prepare to overcome relapse triggers with a written action plan. An outpatient counselor can help you create one. In the meantime, here’s how to get started.

1. On a piece of paper, make four columns with these headings:

  • Triggers
  • Type
  • What to Do
  • Whom to Call/Phone Number

2. Complete each column.

Here are some examples:

  • If you’re frustrated, an emotional trigger, switch your focus to something pleasant, such as gratitude for a particular friend.
  • If you’re in HALT mode, also internal, write how you’ll resolve feeling hungry, angry, lonely, or tired.
  • At celebrations, a physical temptation, note that you’ll find a buddy.
  • Get some exercise to avoid a former user or an external trigger.

3. Include a person’s name and phone number in your support network.

Keep this list handy, referring to it as needed. Eventually, your freeing responses will be automatic!

Your Addiction Recovery Ally

Mind Body Wellness is a leading outpatient treatment center in Franklin, Tennessee. Our successful program combines traditional and holistic therapies to heal you emotionally, physically, and mentally. Our caring professional staff will help you achieve lifelong sobriety.

We treat mental health conditions, including bipolar disorder, chronic anxiety, and depression. We also specialize in co-occurring disorders like PTSD, eating disorders, and ADHD.

Call us today at 615-637-1532. Let us assist you in coping with triggers in recovery.