Recovering from addiction isn’t a matter of just doing away with your toxin of choice. It’s about creating a new life for yourself. To do so means participating in acts of self-care and avoiding situations that may trigger old behaviours. It's about leaving old habits behind and establishing new ones.
Of course you can’t become a hermit in an effort to avoid all the potential triggers and situations that may arise. But by being aware of them, you won’t be caught off guard when they do arise and you can prevent a mini craving from turning into a major urge and then a full on relapse.
To effectively tackle triggers during your addiction recovery, here are a few tips and tricks to help you along the way:
People, Places and Things
Think of high risk situations as the people, places and things that you associate with using. Places where you’ve used. People who you used to use with or who were related to your substance abuse. People who piss you off or make you sad and thus, make you want to use. People who associate celebrating with you, with using. People who encourage you to use. Or items or places that trigger wanting to use.
Avoid your drinking buddies, don’t walk by your local watering hole just because, don’t keep booze in the house. Avoid people you did lines with, going past your dealer’s house or keeping your particular vice anywhere in your vicinity. The point is to make a bunch of little adjustments to make it much easier for you to create your new life.
By identifying your own personal triggers, you can avoid these situations. Addiction is sneaky and sometimes you won’t see your high risk situations until you’re smack dab in the middle of one. But, by doing away with the people, places and things that you knowingly associate with your addiction, you’re actively making the small changes that add up to saving your life.
The Acronym HALT – Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired
How you feel has a massive impact on what you do and want to do. High risk situations include feeling hungry, angry, lonely or tired. These four things are said to cause more lapses and relapses. Cravings arise when a need is unmet and because addiction is so sneaky, it can be masked behind these aforementioned guises.
This is why taking care of yourself is of the utmost importance. Eating healthy, exercising, getting enough rest, joining a 12 step or support group so you don’t feel isolated means minimizing the occurrence of being hungry, angry, lonely or tired. Again, its about making changes that inhibit these scenarios in the first place. By altering your habits, you are creating your beautiful life free of toxic behaviours.
Learn to Relax
People use drugs and alcohol to relax, reward themselves or escape because they feel the need to relieve tension. It should be noted that everyone wants to relax, feel rewarded, and escape temporarily at times in their life, but not everyone is an addict who uses to do so. Thus, learning to relax is essential for maintaining a healthy lifestyle as well as your sobriety.
Whether its learning to meditate, going for a daily walk where you can turn off the chatter in your mind and be mindful of the moment, going to yoga or just sitting quietly and observing your breath, these techniques do wonders for your brain. Numerous studies have shown that relaxation reduces the use of alcohol, tobacco and marijuana.
By creating a daily practice of relaxation and mindfulness, you tune out the noise. This helps for when you do end up in a situation where a trigger is set off because you can recognize it for what it is (through mindfulness) and also, let it pass knowing you have the inner strength to do so.
Asking for help is one of the most courageous things you can do. To be vulnerable and honest, requires bravery and well, recovery is only successful when you are honest. When you’re completely honest with yourself and your supporters, you don’t give your addiction room to hide.
When the going gets tough, ask for assistance. Call up your sponsor, a trusted friend or family member and talk it out.
Remember, growth comes from change. You need to create a new life where it’s easier for you not to use and that means, making the necessary adjustments to allow you to continue to grow and flourish.