A significant amount of people struggling with substance abuse find it difficult to resist relapse triggers. The negative side effects of relapsing after enrolling in drug and alcohol recovery programs is another concern.

Some people experience cravings when they’re feeling good because they want to feel even better, while the same person may also experience cravings when they’re feeling especially down or sad. External triggers can be very powerful and sometimes, you may not be able to dissociate certain things with your past substance abuse. As a result, when you are confronted with those things, you may experience a very strong desire to drink or get high again. If you have not been formally diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, a healthcare provider can assess your symptoms and determine the best treatment options for your particular situation.

Use this 4-step method to handle unwanted thoughts that can derail your focus

These typically involve people in your recovery support circle who can help lead you back to a life that is free of substance abuse and help you get back on track. One of the most common and detrimental internal triggers are emotions. Initially, many addicts first use drugs and alcohol to avoid unwanted emotions. Sadness, anger, fear, anxiety, and feeling overwhelmed often engage the feeling of not being in control. Rejection and abandonment are also major triggers for recovering addicts because it typically brings up feelings from their childhood.

How can I stop being emotionally triggered?

  1. Figure out your big three.
  2. Understand what comes right before a reaction.
  3. Identify your story.
  4. Recognize the physical signs.
  5. Find an effective method to interrupt your reaction.
  6. Take deep breaths.
  7. Change the atmosphere.
  8. Practice thought stopping.

When it comes to making changes to your life to remove triggers, be realistic. There’s no way to prevent fireworks from occurring or certain words from being spoken around you. You don’t want to expose yourself to the people or the substances themselves, for example. By numbing yourself to that risk through exposure, you may be able to defeat it.

The Viking Mentality: Eat or Be Eaten

Enroll in a sober living program to receive continued support after rehab. Seeing someone use a substance or even just seeing it sitting on a shelf can cause you to fantasize internal and external triggers about using it again. Fortunately, there are many ways to cope with triggers in recovery. Ask about strategies that work for the person to relax and take care of themselves.

Feelings of inadequacy can lead a recovering addict to desperately seek validation and when the attempts fail, this can also be a trigger. When it comes down to situations, everyone handles adversity differently. While some people manage difficult situations with ease, people in recovery can easily slip back into old habits when dealing with new situations. For instance, the death of a loved one can easily trigger a relapse in a recovering addict. Some, people struggling with drug and alcohol addiction feel as though they can’t mix and mingle without the use of substances. However, payday can also play a huge role in someone relapsing.

Jan Relapse Triggers : Internal vs. External

While it can be difficult to control triggers, those who experience them can learn from past experiences, apply what they learn, and limit the risk of being re-triggered. Avoid only focusing on what happens after a trigger; also focus on what can be done beforehand. After experiencing a trigger, a person may have big, negative feelings – overwhelm, powerlessness, fear, etc.

Therefore, if you’re in a drug and alcohol recovery stage, this environment can inspire you to feel celebratory and want to participate. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.


For how you can avoid as many of the triggers you’ve identified as possible. If we realize that we tend to reach for a substance when bored, we can identify other options for ourselves to manage boredom. 8.1 million of 25.4% of illegal drug users have a drug disorder. 53 million or 19.4% of people 12 and over have used illegal drugs or misused prescription drugs within the last year. There are other triggers such as sights, smells, conflict, aggression, news stories, books, and memories which can cause disruption in our lives. Prioritize self-care with proper nutrition, a healthy sleep routine, and daily physical activity. Remove all alcohol, drugs, and related paraphernalia from your home.

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Practices like mindfulness allow individuals to focus on right now, placing their mindset in the present moment. This encourages detaching from painful or distressing experiences and can reduce stress. Healthy ways of managing triggers allows individuals to thrive without turning to damaging coping mechanisms that can harm them or others. A study from Marquette University pointed out that stress rendered people in recovery more vulnerable to other relapse triggers.

Bars and nightclubs may also be relapse triggers for alcoholics or others who misuse substances. Triggers for relapse are situations that remind individuals of their drug use. Triggers are psychological, emotional, social and situational cues that can induce cravings. Strong cravings that crop up in response to triggers can be difficult to curb without the right support and resources. It’s valuable to work with your therapist to learn ways to manage your triggers in a healthy manner. This could include cognitive behavioral therapy, a method of learning how to change negative thoughts so you don’t relapse.

internal and external triggers

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