Know Your Triggers
Once detox and rehabilitation is complete and you have made your way back to your new and sober life, you will soon find that sobriety is not as simple as merely changing your mind. While in rehab, in a controlled and safe environment, you were given space and tools to heal and return to a normal level of functioning. However, once you step back into life, you will notice a lot of things seem the same. People and places will become triggers that remind you of the life you had prior to recovery, and you will be tempted to fall back into the habits that once fueled your addiction.
In rehab, you will learn what your major triggers are as well as how to deal with them while in the after-care stage of recovery. It is important to acknowledge that triggers will indeed come, and being prepared for them beforehand is essential.
In addition to your unique triggers such as a particular person, location, or environment, there are also some general triggers that most people deal with. The acronym HALTS will help you remember these triggers: Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired, and Sick.
- When we are hungry, we are automatically more irritable and cannot think clearly. It is much easier to make a rash decision when you have not eaten and have low blood sugar. Be sure to eat healthily and regularly so as to not put yourself in the position of being overly hungry and make a decision you will regret later on.
- Anger, bitterness, and resentment are often triggers for those struggling with drug addiction or alcoholism. Especially when the withdrawal symptoms become intense, it is easy to fall back into the pattern of using because it temporary helps with the anger. However, recognizing that covering up anger with substance abuse only perpetuates the cycle you just broke out of. Figure out what specifically makes you upset—particular people, situations, etc.—and make a point to avoid these factors. Check out an anger management class to get practical help for how to deal with anger.
- Loneliness can be a huge trigger for recovering addicts, as addiction is an isolating illness. Isolation only emphasizes negative thoughts and emotions, and can easily lead back to substance abuse. It is essential that you reach out for help when feelings of loneliness emerge. At rehab, you had a team of people committed to your recovery. That team, including your supportive family and friends, still wants to help you stay clean and sober. This is not weakness; rather it reveals strength that you know when to ask for help.
- Getting regular and consistent sleep is important in maintaining a sober lifestyle. When you are tired, you are unable to think clearly or make decisions that you would make when fully awake and alert. Even non-addicts struggle with making bad decisions when tired. In addition, getting good sleep also decreases your chances for depression, improves insulin production, and allows you to be fully alert and functioning during the day. Consider making changes to your lifestyle that promote better sleep. Avoid watching television or scrolling through social media on your computer or phone, and drink caffeine only in the morning.
- Finally, sickness, like sleep deprivation or hunger, increases your chances for making a poor decision due to not being fully alert. Perhaps before recovery, using made your symptoms better and helped you recover more quickly (or so it seemed). It will be tempting to reach for that substance once again, however, realize that falling back into addiction will not be worth the instant gratification of feeling better in the moment. Seek alternative therapies such as counseling or holistic methods to recover from your illness.
Being aware of your triggers and proactively setting yourself up for success will prove incredibly helpful for the maintenance of your sobriety. Call our office today at (888) 238-1038 to speak with a trained treatment specialist about after care options and more helpful information about trigger maintenance.