Home Health How to Manage Triggers During Your Recovery

How to Manage Triggers During Your Recovery


Recovery is a long process. Even the best drug rehab centers can only set you up for success. You must do the hard work yourself. One of the biggest challenges you’ll face is managing triggers. To do this, you’ll need to understand how triggers work, identify your own problem areas, and come up with a plan to deal with them.

How Do Triggers Work?

A trigger is something that reminds you of your addiction. It could be an emotion, a place, a time of day, etc. Once you remember indulging in your addiction in the past, you’ll feel a craving to return to your addiction. You have a choice here: the easy way of falling back on old habits, or the harder choice of building a new, healthy habit. The good news is, you can change your old cycle with time and dedication.

What Are Triggers?

Triggers may be emotions, times of day, places, people, and more. A few examples include:

  • Seeing a friend who you shared that addiction with
  • Someone offering a toast at a party
  • Milestones like your birthday
  • Driving down a road where you used to buy drugs
  • Feeling too stressed out after work to fall sleep
  • Seeing a TV ad for your addiction
  • Feeling lonely when you realize all your friends have weekend plans, but you don’t
  • Being fired from work

How to Identify Your Triggers

The first step to dealing with triggers is to understand what they are. However, these aren’t always easy to figure out, so here are a few ideas:

  • Discuss this issue with your therapist and brainstorm the problem.
  • Journal about situations when you’ve felt overwhelmed and turned to your addiction.
  • Talk to family and friends who know you well.  What do they think your triggers are?
  • Work backwards. Think about the last time you used your addiction. What were you thinking? Feeling? Where were you? When did it happen?

Reach Out

The best drug rehab centers will put you in touch with a network of support. This could include a sober companion, therapists, a recovery coach, a group of peers also in recovery, and more. These people may all have useful advice for managing triggers. You can also practice your trigger management strategy with these people.

Make a Plan

Make several plans. First, work out what you’ll do when you’re faced with a specific trigger. Then create a contingency plan. This backup plan can help you keep a minor slip up from becoming a full-on relapse. Finally, don’t hesitate to revise your strategy. Even the best plans may not quite work out in the real world. Don’t give up, adapt!