Identifying Relapse Triggers
In early recovery it's important to identify relapse triggers. A trigger is an event or series of events that potentially causes you to drink, overeat or engage in addictive behavior.
You may not aware of your triggers until you have a slip or relapse. What most people don't realize is that a relapse starts weeks or even months before actual use. Really, yep! Keep reading.
A trigger can be a specific event, such as a relationship problem, a loss, or change that causes stress and an inability to cope.
If your first reaction is to ignore it and hope it goes away watch out! Any form of denial is a relapse warning sign.
That's why learning how to handle stress and difficult emotions are vital in early recovery. You must learn to face what's happening so that it doesn't bite you in the rear later.
Part of handling stress is being able to identify feelings in the moment. Anger and resentment tend to surface when newly sober. Know that learning to feel your feelings is a vital part of recovery.
Here are some common situations that can trigger the desire to use again.
- Socializing with people who still drink and use
- Getting into an argument with a friend or spouse
- Getting negative feedback at work or home
- Feeling too Hungry, Anger, Lonely or Tired (HALT)
- Experiencing a major stressor or sudden change
- Any significant loss such as unemployment, a break up or death
- An unsafe or unsupported living environment
- Physical illness of self or family members
- Feeling depressed or worthless about life
- Past traumas that are coming up
- Ignoring emotions and hoping they'll just go away
Learning to handle life without using is a big task in early recovery. That's why going to 90 meetings in 90 days is a great suggestion. You need that continuous support to stay sober.
This commitment to attend meetings helps you feel a part of the group. It gives you a safe place when uncomfortable feelings surface.
You need a safe place to express these emotions so they don't get pushed under the rug. Stuffing feelings is a old behavior that can lead to using again.
Build your tribe
12 step programs are successful because they provide immediate support. Many seasoned members are willing to sponsor because their own sobriety depends on it. You can't keep it unless you give it away.
Regular contact with a sponsor can minimize relapse as long as your honest about what's happening. They can walk you through whatever you're struggling with without judgment.
Here're some tools to use when you're struggling.
Tools to help
- Write your concerns in a journal.
- Go to a meeting.
- Call your sponsor or trusted friend.
- If there is a problem, don't avoid it. Ask for help.
- Pray or meditate.
- Get additional support if needed.
- Make sure you have time to relax and have fun.
- Learn strategies like mediation/mindfulness to handle stress.
- Get vigorous exercise to improve mood.
- Develop better self care by getting plenty of sleep and eating healthy.
- Use the slogans such as One day at a time, or This too shall pass to get through the tough times
Everyone feels tempted to use on occasion but if you stick close to the program you'll learn how to face the pain and move on. If that the pain is too much, please consider seeking professional help. There are counselors like myself who can support you.
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