How to Identify Triggers

Nov 26, 2021

Identifying triggers takes some detective work and is not for the faint of heart. Making a full-scale attempt at recovery means you must know your triggers, so you can either avoid the triggers or develop a plan to cope with triggers when they arise. One inescapable fact of recovery is that triggers will arise.

There are various types of triggers. Below, we will focus on a few of them, as well as ways to identify which of these types is triggering you. So, settle in and prepare yourself for some detective work.

Seven Categories of Triggers

#1. Social triggers:

You have likely heard it said that in recovery, you need to evaluate the role of people in your life. The people with whom you surround yourself have a major impact on the health of your recovery. Some people will support your recovery, no matter what. On the flip side, there are people who do not believe in the possibility of recovery. Their doubts are a result of their unreadiness to pursue recovery.

Obviously, hanging out with the latter group of people is going to trigger a desire to use alcohol and/or other substances due to social pressure. However, the first group of people may be just as triggering if they are not actively seeking recovery. Recovery is difficult in the best of times, but surrounding yourself with people who actively use is not conducive to your mental health, nor your recovery.

Another key element of social triggers is availability. When surrounded by people who actively use alcohol and/or other substances, the prospect of alcohol and/or other substances being available is greater. Availability makes your recovery even more difficult because you have to say “NO” to something that is right there, surrounded by others who are using and might be inviting you to use as well.

“One is too many and a thousand is never enough,” is sometimes spoken in 12-Step meetings as a reminder of fallibility and the need for abstinence no matter what.

#2. State of being:

Your state of being plays a powerful role in your ability to abstain. In your history of use of alcohol and/or other substances, there are certain experiences unique to you which make abstinence more difficult. Sadness, exhilaration, pain, stress, tiredness, and anger are just a few experiences that trigger some people to use alcohol and/or other substances. Experiencing discomfort of any sort is often a trigger for those newly in recovery.

Another element of your state of being is your mental health. Self-medicating to deal with the terrifying frustration of a mind that does not seem to conform to the world as you see it often occurs in the use of alcohol and/or other substances.

Do not lay blame at your own feet. You were doing the best you could with the tools and resources you had. A vital part of any treatment is identifying underlying conditions and treating them. Treatment of these conditions will aid in your recovery. Your recovery should build up your state of being and make abstinence from alcohol and/or other substances easier.

#3. Activities and settings:

How often do you sit at a table at a family gathering and watch people drink alcohol and/or go outside to use other substances? As you approach the holiday season, gatherings of family and friends will become commonplace and be potentially triggering. These gatherings invite new stressors in practicing recovery.

So, you might need to begin to make a list of all the activities and places you once used alcohol and/or other substances. Make the list as comprehensive as possible, while understanding the list might require revision as you learn more about your past habits and attitudes about activities.

Your settings also play a key role. Some redecorate and paint their homes while seeking recovery as a means of changing the settings in their immediate space. If you know that the smell of a certain bathroom cleaner makes you want to hide and use alcohol and/or other substances in the bathroom, change your cleaner. Change the rugs. Change whatever you can to make it easier to start living a life of recovery.

Some Things to Remember

You are not alone in your recovery. There are over 50 million people who use illicit substances and/or misuse pharmaceuticals. There is a myriad of services in the USA and around the world to help people battle substance abuse. You deserve to heal, but one of the first things you have to do is ask for help. This can help you begin identifying what in your life makes you more likely to use or abuse alcohol and/or other substances.

Identifying triggers is one of the most difficult aspects of setting yourself up for success in recovery. Identifying triggers requires self-evaluation and often the help of a trusted sober friend and/or mental health professional. If you or someone you know is struggling with substance use disorder, be it from self-medicating for a comorbid condition or other reasons, there is help available to you. At Renaissance Ranch, we offer support in every aspect of treatment. We will never leave you to battle the struggle of recovery alone. We are a clinically driven and gospel-centered treatment center with support from detoxification to sober living homes, as well as the Band of Brothers, who will help you after you leave our supportive facility. You deserve the life you always wanted. Reach out to us at Renaissance Ranch by calling (801) 308-8898 and begin your journey into freedom from the prison of alcohol and/or other substance use today. You are worth your recovery.