Relapse Prevention Tips: What are Triggers?

March 26, 2014

Medication, therapy and changing the way we think is not enough to maintain recovery. Despite our motivation and will, everyone is at risk of relapse, especially during the early stages of recovery. Identification of triggers and stressors that may incite relapse is a fundamental step to reducing the risk of relapse.

A trigger is anything that stimulates the desire to use/drink again. A trigger may be a thought, feeling, memory, place or situation in which we find ourselves. A particular day of the week or time of year can also be a trigger – even certain psychical sensations, sounds and smells.

Everyone experiences a trigger at some point during their recovery (sometimes multiple triggers are experienced simultaneously). It’s how you respond to it that will make the biggest difference.

Your relapse prevention plan should include coping strategies to manage triggers. Before you can develop coping strategies, however, you must first be able to identify your triggers and high-risk situations. You can do this by listing possible triggers you experience in each category:

  • Attitudes
  • Feeling (positive or negative)
  • Situations
  • Physical Sensations (sight, sounds, smells)
  • Places
  • Events

This exercise is designed to help you identify your triggers, which will help you better understand what your triggers are, and how you’ll be able to manage them to ensure greater success in your recovery.

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