Triggers are an important component of addiction and recovery. Most drugs have varying effects on people and different symptoms of use, but there is one thing all drug abuse has in common - triggers. Understanding what triggers are and how to deal with them ensures a better outcome in recovery.
A trigger can be a person, place, thing, smell, sound or memory, that when experienced by the addict, creates the desire to use drugs. This can happen long after the addict has gotten into recovery and explains why someone can be clean and sober for a while and then "out of nowhere" use drugs again.
For those addicted to heroin, it can be as simple as seeing a spoon or getting blood drawn at the doctor. When one is addicted to meth, finding an innocent white rock on the car floor can cause a problem. Avoiding such obvious triggers or learning to ignore them is possible. It is the less obvious triggers that often take the addict by surprise.
Examples of such triggers include:
Going to a park-house, store-parking lot etc., where the addict used to buy, sell or use drugs can be a trigger. Seeing the same restrooms, picnic tables or area landscape is a reminder of the drug days. If the addict is not strong in recovery, he or she is at risk for relapse.
It is well-known in the recovery world that associating with those the addict did drugs with can be a fast track to relapse. Whether the addict recovers through meetings, residential treatment or some other method, he will be cautioned not to associate with anyone connected to his past drug activities.
If the addict made a habit of listening to a particular song or group while using drugs, simply hearing that same music can be a trigger.
Studies have determined that stress is a common drug addiction trigger. While stress is a fact of life, and cannot be completely avoided, learning effective coping methods for stress can help avoid a relapse especially during the winter and holiday months.
Trying to avoid all triggers can cause its own stress. It also doesn't mean that the recovering addict must avoid triggers forever, but that avoiding them during the initial stages of recovery makes sense. Identifying triggers so that they can be understood is a tool that can help combat the urge to use.
If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, help is available. Call The Haven at (801) 533-0070 to discuss options.