Steps To Prevent Relapsing After Already Being Triggered

A large majority of addiction recovery treatment involves learning various techniques that can help patients maintain their sobriety in the long-term. Initially achieving sobriety, the process of recognizing your addictive disorder as well as your issues with substance misuse, asking for assistance in these matters, and going through withdrawal, is a commendable undertaking in its own right. However, this is simply the first step toward recovery from substance misuse while the remainder of your treatment will begin to address your addictive behavioral patterns and co-occurring mental health issues through a process known as sobriety maintenance. 


What Exactly is Sobriety Maintenance?

Sobriety maintenance largely entails learning the self-awareness skills that will help you recognize potential triggering emotions or events; this self-awareness will in turn allow you to take the necessary preventative actions to avoid those scenarios entirely. For the uninitiated, a trigger is an emotional response to a scenario that first instigates the desire for substance misuse as well as further advocating any form of addictive behavior. Triggers are generally personal and vary case by case from certain smells to even hanging out with familiar friends. 


The variety and personal nature of triggering scenarios are why addiction recovery patients must begin to map out their potential triggers during the sobriety maintenance stage of their treatment. Once a potential trigger is recognized, patients can ideally then take preventative measures to avoid/cope with them before they happen. 


What Do I Do if I Find Myself Being Triggered? 

Unfortunately, the ascribed ideal for taking preventative measures is not always an option and you may find yourself triggered in a scenario that is completely out of your control. First and foremost, you have to have the self-awareness and mental foresight to recognize that you are experiencing a triggered emotional response to a situation. Once you recognize the problem, you will be less likely to simply react which decreases your chances of relapsing. Instead of being reactionary, you can then decide to take yourself out of any triggering scenario and into a safer space.


Self-awareness helps recognize the emotional consequences of being triggered and will certainly delay the previous norm of a reaction to relapse into the comforts of substance misuse. However, recognizing the problem does little to help triggered individuals with impulse control. The desire to use will be strong after experiencing any trigger, especially for individuals in early recovery, and the best course of action will be to find a safe space, delay, keep your mind busy, and wait for those desires to pass. Here are some actionable tips on how to abate impulse control issues after being triggered:    


    1. Attend a Meeting: If you find yourself in a triggering scenario, one of the best options is to immediately find a meeting and attend. You can share your recent experience publicly asking for help if you choose, however, simply being in attendance at a meeting and joining the company of fellow addiction recovery patients will help abate some of those impulsive desires. Time is your friend in these scenarios, and filling the time in between with an addiction recovery-focused meeting will only help to resolve your desires for substance misuse while also giving you the nudge in the right direction to remain sober and avoid relapse.
  • Exercise: A wandering mind and free time after being triggered is a perfect recipe for relapsing. Taking yourself out of any triggering scenario through exercise is a healthy way to abate those initial desires to relapse. The exercise itself will keep your mind away from thoughts of substance misuse while doubling down on releasing endorphins which will decrease risks of depression, negative thought patterns, and isolation. If you can find a way to exercise after being triggered, you enter a win-win scenario, and afterward, most of those desires to use will have probably passed.
  • Phone a Friend/Family Member: If you find yourself triggered, one of the best distractions can be immediately picking up your phone and calling someone in your support network. This can be a sponsor, friend, or family member, and you do not even necessarily have to bring up the triggering scenario if you do not feel comfortable talking about it. Changing the topic from triggering emotions and potential relapse to simply catching up can be a welcome diversion and its form of a preventative measure. 
  • Meetup For Coffee: Meeting a friend for coffee is a great way to delay those impulse control issues and can be an exciting event in its own right. Being around people, especially friends with who you are comfortable is a step in the right direction toward finding a safe space. This provides both time and enough distraction to put space between you and the triggering scenario.  
    1. Find a Distracting Activity: Any activity that does not allow your mind to wander toward relapse and substance misuse helps delay impulse control issues. This can involve coloring, playing video games, reading, cooking/baking, etc. The key here is finding an activity that occupies your attention enough to let you abate those inclinations to relapse.
  • Work: Unless the stresses of work are the triggering event, work can oddly enough be the perfect distraction as long as your workspace is not a solitary operation. Communal work environments provide enough time and distraction to avoid potential relapse.


These tips are to help you abate desires and impulse control issues, but it should also be noted that any recognized triggers should be mapped out and avoided in the future; These triggers should also possibly be brought up in therapy sessions to help you better get to the root of your addictive disorder.


If you or someone you love needs help with an addictive disorder with co-occurring mental health issues, then Choice House has dual-diagnosis treatment services to help. We offer men the opportunity to achieve and maintain sobriety through a variety of therapeutic modalities as they craft a new foundation of love, empathy, and understanding. Our addiction recovery treatment program includes a 90-day inpatient service, an intensive outpatient program, and the chance to take up residency at our sober living campus. Located in the Boulder County region of Colorado, our facilities are ideally located at the footsteps of the Rocky Mountain National Park. We take full advantage of having the Rocky Mountains in our backyard by offering a unique outdoor wilderness therapy that allows men to reconnect with nature, fellow recovery patients, and themselves through physical activities like hiking, rock climbing, and kayaking. We feel the bonds of friendship that you will form in our outdoor therapy will last a lifetime and prove vital to the recovery effort long after you have left Choice House facilities. Our facilities are also just a short drive from the bustling city of Louisville which proves beneficial to both outpatient services as well as those residing at our sober living campus. For more information regarding Choice House facilities and programs of service, please give us a call at (720) 577-4422.


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