How to Understand Your Trigger Warnings

May 13, 2021

How to Understand Your Trigger Warnings

While there are many ways to avoid relapsing after completing a program, this does not mean it is any less frightening. Oddly enough, often, those who relapse never enter a situation with the intent to relapse. Instead, they find themselves in unforeseen situations where they may undergo an overwhelming amount of stress caused by unknown triggers. In these circumstances, they might even begin to relive traumatic moments in their lives from before they were sober. Found caught off guard in the midst of reliving old mindsets, relapsing can become more likely than desired.

Unfortunately, stories and scenarios like these are quite common due to a lack of recognition. However, this does not mean that having a relapse will become your reality. There are many ways to ensure that you will not slip back into old, undesired behaviors. Identifying and thoroughly understanding your potential triggers can help you avoid relapsing in the future. Extensively learning more about what triggers are, how to be aware of triggers, and avoiding or working through them before experiencing them can ensure you will be as prepared as possible to avoid a relapse.

What Are Triggers?

Triggers are defined as external events or situations that may produce intense feelings of stress, anxiety, fear, and despair for those exposed to them. These triggers are unique to each individual and vary depending on their experiences in life. For instance, a military veteran may perceive fireworks as triggering, and a retired surgeon might find it equally as triggering to see hospitals. Both of these professions have such high stress levels that they end up leaving long-lasting impacts on workers well after the professions are over. Since those on a newfound path of sobriety have gone through traumatic experiences with drugs or alcohol in their past, they are no exception from experiencing similar triggers in their new, everyday lives.

Common Triggers In Recovery

Some common triggers for those in recovery may include financial problems, family issues or disputes, people or places tied to old behaviors, or any kind of stressful life event in general. Stress is a leading trigger for many people because, before recovery, many would turn to drugs or alcohol to cope with stress and the negative feelings that accompany it. Regrettably, stress does not discriminate and affects every person at multiple points throughout their lives, whether they are sober or not.

Although this may be disheartening, experiencing stress does not have to be frightening. There may be many triggers that appear in your future, but experiencing a relapse due to these stressful conditions does not have to be a guaranteed outcome. There are many helpful approaches to avoid this potential event and better manage stressful situations.

Prepare Ahead Of Time

An essential part of ensuring your sobriety is to plan ahead of time for possible triggers you may experience through expanding your awareness. Spending some time alone to consider various circumstances, people, or locations that could cause you to experience stress of any kind can allow you to know how to navigate those situations better. Entering blindly into situations that cause you severe discomfort without being aware of your triggers beforehand may cause you to endure intense feelings of anxiety and panic.

During vulnerable moments like these, it could be tempting to return to familiar, old coping mechanisms that lead to relapse. To avoid being caught off guard in this way, creating lists comprised of our own potential triggers can help us practice better ways of coping with these stressful situations.

While it is acceptable to avoid certain people or places altogether completely, the truth is that we cannot avoid every stressful situation that occurs throughout our lives. In this case, having multiple different methods planned for managing the unpleasant feelings that may accompany these situations may help us to stay sober. We can even begin experiencing these moments with more presence and awareness as opposed to experiencing things through the lens of anxiety along with the use of proper preparation.

Planning and preparing ahead of time by continuously using breathwork, grounding skills, and prayer can help us reach these goals. However, we cannot actualize these intentions unless we begin with conscious awareness. In constantly committing to exercising awareness when considering what triggers you personally, you can rest assured that you are actively expanding the chances of not experiencing a relapse.

Life after being in a program may be difficult at first. You might even come to find that this new lifestyle is filled with distressing, troublesome situations that you initially did not realize would appear. Even though these experiences are quite common for nearly everyone, those in recovery may struggle significantly. Luckily, being as prepared as possible for triggering times can relieve the fear of a potential relapse. Preparing for these triggering events by identifying events, places, or people that may cause you stress is essential. This awareness then gives you the capability to learn how to cope with the feelings that accompany intimidating triggers. Here at the Renaissance Ranch, we understand how important it is to continue developing awareness and healthy coping mechanisms well after your time within the program. This is why we offer support to help you through these difficult, confusing changes. Our Alumni group offers weekly meetings that can help you identify and cope with any trigger you may encounter. Call us today at (801) 308-8898 to learn more.